"It now seems inconceivable that three years ago Celtic Connections did not exist." Colin Hynd Festival Director
1996 saw the festival extend to include performances at the Tramway (a New Orleans Cajun weekend), the Barony, Adelaides Church on Bath Street and the first year of the now infamous festival club at The Central Hotel.
Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys
"Undoubtedly the most precocious three year old in the festival calendar. Celtic Connections continues to develop at a seemingly unfeasible rate. It bestrides the folk world like a colossus and yet has shown conclusively that may not mean unwieldy" The Scotsman, 4th January 1996
"A wondrous place, The Royal Concert Hall. Where else can you sit in the bar quaffing beer, listening to the bells count down time till the gig kicks off? Wait till the last minute then toddle into The Hall as the stage lights come up and the show begins? Outstanding." The Herald 9th January 1996
In 1996 you could book a ticket for Barbara Dickson at Celtic Connections for £12.50
You could also:
1996 was the first year you could become a friend of the festival. Benefits for those who joined the scheme included complimentary tickets to see events throughout the festival, 10% discount on Celtic Connections merchandise from The Concert Hall and advance notification.
"We were all privileged to be there" Belfast Telegraph
What a start to Celtic Connections 1996. Concert goers were treated to a Gala Concert featuring the legendary French jazz violinist, 89 year old Stephane Grapelli performing with Galway fiddler Frankie Gavin. The repertoire covered everything from Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Django Rheinhardt.
"All you've got to do is hear her. She has one of the most traditional voices, yet she doesn't sound like anyone else you've ever heard before" Garth Brooks
24 year old Alison Krauss ended a busy festival. Her album "Now That I've Found You" swept the boards at the 1995 Country Music Awards. Even at this point in her career she was credited as the women who brought bluegrass back into the mainstream of country music's consciousness.