Celtic Connections 2003

15th January – 2nd February

By 2003 we’d made it into double figures and decided to celebrate our tenth birthday in style. Big name acts and exciting projects were part of that year’s festival. Arguably the lasting legacy of 2003 was the creation of programming strands that promoted emerging talent and passed on traditional music and song between generations.

Artists appearing at the festival in 2003 included

Sinead O’Connor
Eddi Reader and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Salsa Celtica
Tom Paxton
The Waterboys
The Dubliners
Bob Geldof
Evelyn Glennie
Didier Squiban
Bow Brothers
Billy Bragg
Stacey Earle
Laura Cantrell

What the critics said...

Born into a country where despite a groundswell of youthful interest, traditional music was, and remains, marginalised by the media, and held during a month, January, when tourists were as likely to visit Glasgow as alligators to swim up the Clyde, Celtic Connections is arguably the success story of recent Scottish arts history. The Herald

Celtic Connections has always been committed to promoting and bringing together the best young names and talent. BBC Music Magazine

Keeping the Tradition Alive

Celtic Connections from the start had a strong commitment to promoting young talent and passing traditional music from generation to generation. In 2003 this was further demonstrated by the introduction of two brand new strands of programming in The Piping Centre.

The Young Tradition showcased the range of emerging young talent working within the traditional music scene.

In a modern day revival of a time honoured tradition the Master and Apprentice series aimed to forge a direct link between musical generations. "Apprentice" players and singers were invited to choose a “master” musician they regard to be a particular influence or inspiration.

First and Last


Celtic Connections launched with Scottish Women. A host of great singers from both the Gaelic and Scots traditions came together under the direction of composer and multi-instrumentalist Brian McNeill. The mega line-up of Scots singers include Elspeth Cowie, Ray Fisher, Sheila Stewart, Sheena Wellington, Karine Polwart, Emily Smith, Ishbel MacAskill, Flora MacNeill, Maggie MacInnes, Anna Murray, Mairi MacInnes and Margaret Bennett. The band featured Annie Grace, Corrina Hewat, Catriona MacAffer and Emily Smith. The concert was such a success that it resulted in a tour around Scotland two months later.


The very last concert of 2003 was also the final performance in The Old Fruitmarket prior to refurbishment and reopening in 2006. The concert was opened by piper Finlay MacDonald and continued by the mighty Blazin Fiddles. The Fruitmarket’s final fling just about blew off the already rain damaged roof with pipers and fiddlers finishing the tenth festival in awesome style.​