A record attendance!

And so the broad headline stats are in (out?), as ever on Celtic Connections’ final day, and again previous records have tumbled. The 25th festival scored 130,000 attendances at more than 350 events, featuring over 2300 artists from 30-plus countries, across 28 Glasgow stages. Phew. You know when you’ve been Celtic-ed.


Hearty congratulations to our six Danny Kyle Open Stage Finalists for 2018, also announced today: take a bow Dlu, Savannah Donohoe & Charlie Galloway, Lynnie Carson, Sam Begbie & Joe Doyle, The Canny Band and Joel Gardner. Enjoy your well-earned celebrations tonight – and assuage any pains tomorrow with the knowledge that you’re the first acts booked for Celtic 2019.


Earlier on at the Holiday Inn, a last sprinkle of Nashville stardust blew in with The Mavericks’ arrival, ready and raring for their Fruitmarket show tonight (and looking scarily fresh-faced even after the long flight, compared to those of us for whom this is Day 18).
Given how much fun their frontman Raul Malo had with the Transatlantic Sessions gang, back in 2012 - including a trip to Shetland - we’re a little worried he might need physically restraining to stop him boarding their tour-bus in the morning.


In yet another announcement, following Elephant Sessions’s positively seismic sellout at the Fruitmarket on Friday, they’ll be continuing their seemingly unstoppable ascent to rock’n’roll glory with a gig at King Tut’s in May: somewhat more bijou than this weekend, and with limited scope for crowdsurfing/giant inflatables, but with loads of extra points for coolness.


Talking of animals (as we kind of were), it’s hard to believe we’ve reached the penultimate instalment of this year’s Celtic chronicle without mentioning the massive stuffed monkey/gorilla/orang-utan – some kind of oversized simian soft toy - who’s been sat behind reception, greeting every arrival at the Holiday Inn, ever since the festival started: it’s a bit worrying how quickly it just became normal. At least one of the local musicians who’s been eyeing up photo-opportunities with said monkey (the latter being actually in residence as a Marie Curie fundraiser: you’ve to guess his/her name) was spotted in the hotel lobby following his gig last night, looking more than a little on pasty side, having preceded the performance with a night that began on Friday lunchtime, and ended at 7am.


“I woke up with Kinnaris Quartet stamps all over my belly,” he said wonderingly. “So I must have been running about with my shirt off at some point. That would have been the Festival Club. But then, I was trying to keep up with the big boys. . .” Given our man’s own pretty fearsome stature in the drinking dimension, we wondered who these gargantuan figures could possibly be? “Iain MacFarlane and Allan Henderson” – of course. Although after Henderson’s contribution to his idol Fergie MacDonald’s Pavilion show last night, suitably attired in full Highland tweeds, by his evening journey’s end, via the scenic route back to the Holiday Inn Express, he truly gave new meaning to the concept of being monumentally blootered.