Celtic Connections 2014

16th January – 2nd February

Celtic Connections celebrated its 21st year by welcoming a record number of visitors to the festival and by expanding into a new venue – Scotland’s leading arena, the SSE Hydro. Del Amitri took to the stage of the Hydro on Friday 24th January 2014 and blew away the biggest crowd Celtic Connections had seen to date.  The night after festival fans were treated to an International Burns Night, again at the Hydro, with a stellar line-up including Capercaillie, The Mahotella Queens, Karine Polwart, Dougie MacLean, Rachel Sermanni and Salsa Celtica. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra was in residence for the night and there was also a very special tribute to Seamus Heaney by John Spillane and Bongani Tembe paid a moving tribute to Nelson Mandela. 

In the summer of 2014 Scotland welcomed the world in for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. To celebrate Scotland’s biggest year a number of Celtic Connections shows explored and celebrated Scotland’s influence on the cultures of the other Commonwealth countries. Shows included Cluaidh’s a’ Cho Flaitheas ¦ The Clyde and the Commonwealth and The Folk Nations Kolkata project. 

Showcase Scotland at Celtic Connections 2014, the largest gathering of the international music community, also worked with two international partners from the Commonwealth. Musicians from India and Australia performed across the Showcase weekend and the strong cultural ties between India, Australia and Scotland were explored.  

Other festival highlights included: Imelda May, Capercaillie, Bobby Womack, Amadou & Mariam, Lúnasa, AR Rahman & BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Mogwai, Peatbog Faeries, Julie Fowlis, Elephant Revival, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Manu Dibango, Treacherous Orchestra, Shawn Colvin, Nicola Benedetti, Stockton's Wing, The Gloaming, Lau, Suzanne Vega, Seth Lakeman, RANT, Boban Marković Orchestra, Alkinoos Ioannidis, The Olllam, Bill Callahan, De Temps Antan, RM Hubbert, Lloyd Cole & the Leopards, Kathleen MacInnes, Tim Finn, Dick Gaughan and The Stray Birds.
Music fans attended approximately 300 concerts, ceilidhs, talks, free events, late night sessions and workshops, which took place in nearly 20 venues across Glasgow over the 18 days. 

The festival is renowned for its ambitious programme of one-off shows, world exclusive performances and unique collaborative events. The 2014 line-up explored the connections between Celtic music and cultures across the globe, bringing musicians from all over the world to Glasgow, with acts from as far afield as Australia, India, South Africa, Mali, Malawi, Cuba and Jamaica as well as across Europe, the USA and Canada. 

Celtic Connections continues to have an international appeal and enhance Glasgow’s reputation as a major tourist destination. Fans visited from all corners of the globe to experience the best in traditional, folk, roots, world and indie music. In 2014 Celtic Connections saw an increase to 7% of visitors from overseas and 4% of the audience visited from the rest of the UK. 29% of festival fans accompanied their visit to Celtic Connections with an overnight stay. An impressive 89% of visitors stated that attending Celtic Connections was their sole or main reason for visiting Glasgow and 61% said they had also attended Celtic Connections in 2013. Festival fans attended an average of 3.5 events. 99% of festival goers rated the overall quality of the festival very highly - either ‘good’ or ‘very good’. 

Sold-out shows included Celtic Connections Opening Concert with Nicola Benedetti, Capercaillie 30th Anniversary Concert, Julie Fowlis, Cherish the Ladies, We Banjo 3 with Chessboxer, Rab Noakes, Mogwai, Tim O’Brien & Darrell Scott, Imelda May, De Temps Antan, Karan Casey, Suzanne Vega, Flook with Mairearad and Anna and of course the hugely popular Transatlantic Sessions, which is now touring, bringing a dazzling international cast of Celtic and Americana musicians to concert halls across the UK following its sell-out success over two nights in Glasgow.

The reach and engagement of the festival's social media was outstanding in 2014. The Celtic Connections Facebook page topped 20,000 likes and Twitter followers stood at over 13,000. Artists also interacted with the festival through their own social media networks – with AR Rahman posting that he was at Celtic Connections 2014 to his 16.5 million supporters on Facebook.

The Celtic Connections Education Programme celebrated a successful 17th year, with high profile festival acts including Treacherous Orchestra and Mairearad & Anna performing free concerts for school-children in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. 

Every year at Celtic Connections the cream of new musical talent perform at the Danny Kyle Open Stage. A diverse panel of judges – from industry stalwarts to members of the general public – then picked six winners from the eighty acts which took part. The Danny Kyle Open Stage 2014 winners – all of whom will perform a support slot at the 2015 festival – were Hò Rò, Griogair Morrison, The Mischa Macpherson trio, The Chaplins, Arthur Nicholson and Austen George. 

First and Last

The Celtic Connections 2014 Opening Concert was a very special collaboration between one of the world’s most astounding classical music stars, the multi-award winning Nicola Benedetti, and Scottish traditional musician extraordinaires Julie Fowlis, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham.

On the opening night of the first ever Celtic Connections, on 9th January 1994, when the suitably bumper line up of Dhais, Four Men and A Dog and Wolfstone performed - it would have been unimaginable that on the same occasion and in the very same venue twenty years later one of the world’s most dazzling classical music stars, premiering new collaborative work with Scottish traditional musicians, would be showcased. 
After another excursionary triumph as a centrepiece of 2013’s Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Derry, during its reign as European City of Culture, and yet more rave reviews for the TV version’s sixth series, The Transatlantic Sessions returned once again to round off another fantastic festival with an amazing cast of Scottish, Irish and US roots music maestros settling into the customary onstage ‘green room’. 

Appearing in her first Transatlantic Sessions, US singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin was originally spotted singing harmonies on Suzanne Vega’s hit ‘Luka’, before winning a Grammy for her 1989 debut Steady On. She remains among the leading luminaries of that 1980s generation, continuing to evolve her intensely personal, elegantly polished alloy of folk and pop, most recently on 2012’s All Fall Down. Multi-talented new-acoustic prodigy Sarah Jarosz may well choose a track or two from her stunning new third album, Build Me Up From Bones, which alchemises bluegrass elements with boundless musical imagination, plus the vocal and technical chops to match. Fellow Americana virtuosi and Transatlantic regulars Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien as always were welcome return visitors. Also performing from stateside was multi-talented premier old-time fiddler Bruce Molsky, while the night’s Scottish vocal ambassadors included Julie Fowlis and Kris Drever. Double bass icon Danny Thompson again graced the all-star house band, along with musical directors Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas, Phil Cunningham, Russ Barenberg, Mike McGoldrick, John Doyle, John McCusker, James Mackintosh and Donald Shaw.

What the critics said: 

“The 2014 Opening Concert effectively became a showcase for everything Celtic Connections can be, skipping across continents and genres with confidence and demolishing any lingering doubts that we now have one of the world's major music festivals on our very doorstep.” 
Sunday Herald, 19th January 2014 

“Whoever came up with the idea of mixing the stalwarts of Scottish folk and Americana in one concert spawned a musical phenomenon that is now an integral part of the Celtic Connections festival…What makes these nights unique is that every musician is a star in his or her own right…The formula is a huge success. Long may it continue.”
Sunday Herald on Transatlantic Sessions, 31st January 2014

“No British city defies the drab winter blues with such impressively Saturnalian vigour as Glasgow, where the streets are pulsating with music and song for the annual 18-day Celtic Connections festival."
The Times, 22nd January 2014

“In its 21st year, there seems little risk of director Donald Shaw falling into any  formulaic 'safe-bet' booking policy .The healthy diversity of the programme reaches beyond the homegrown and Celtic diaspora to traditions and cultures from around the world.” 
fRoots, 1st April 2014