It all starts here!

Tonight mounting collective anticipation (with every second email being signed off 'See you in Glasgow!', and online squeals of excitement from eager musicians and fans proliferating daily on Facebook), gives way tonight to the happy, hug-filled hubbub (a bit like some gigantic, delightedly convivial family reunion) that precedes, puncuates and follows each year's Opening Concert - and to the first delectable course of 2014's 18-day musical feast. 

Tonight's mouth-watering piece de resistance, of course, is the presence of stellar Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, performing together with traditional musicians including Aly Bain, Phil Cunningham and Julie Fowlis, a collaboration that thrillingly encapsulates the extent to which Celtic Connections has helped transform the Scottish musical landscape - both at home and in an international context - since its very first opening concert back in 1994. With rehearsals for this and other sections of the show - including its inaugural dash of Commonwealth flavours, courtesy of artists from Quebec (ex-La Bottine Souriante accordionist Yves Lambert) and Malawi (Peter Mawanga & The Amaravi Movement) - taking place all week in various locations, the festival’s almost seismic momentum is building apace, as dozens of artists around the world prepare to board flights (or are already airborne) for the first weekend’s tally of some 40 shows. 

And starting as most of us doubtless mean to go on, the Late Night Sessions get under way tonight in their conducive new home of the Piping Centre, before the Festival Club kicks off tomorrow night. Ready or not, Celtic Connections 2014 is now under way, and with it starting under a full moon (as if any additional cosmic energies were needed), the omens are certainly propitious for as epic a spree as ever.​