Preparations are well underway for world-renowned Glasgow festival Celtic Connections, which is set to warm up dark winter nights with its vibrant programme of sensational live sounds from Thursday 18 January to Sunday 4 February 2024.
With just two weeks to go, the countdown is on as much-loved venues across the city, such as the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and Barrowland Ballroom, as well as The Pavilion Theatre and Barony Hall, get set to welcome audiences with open arms for what will be one of the biggest capacity Celtic Connections to date.
Glasgow’s status as a UNESCO City of Music will be on full display as, over the course of the 18-day event, 1200 musicians perform at over 300 events. Audiences can expect workshops, recitals, screenings, dementia-friendly performances, full-scale concerts and intimate gigs, spanning genres of traditional folk, roots, Americana, jazz, soul, rock, orchestral, experimental and world music.
Among the many must-see shows from artists from as far as North America, Australia and West Africa are:
- Bringing the warm spirit and true grit of Americana music to Glasgow’s CCA on Friday 19 January, Wild Child is a dynamic act comprising the musical talents of Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins. Hailing from Austin, Texas, the celebrated singer-songwriters have garnered a dedicated following since their formation in 2011, producing music which is both thought provoking and nostalgic.
- Also performing at the CCA is rising Scottish star Rosie H Sullivan, who will grace the stage on Friday 26 January. Growing up on the Isle of Lewis with stunning landscapes from which to draw inspiration, the promising young musician has been writing songs since her early teens. Now based in Edinburgh, Rosie has two EPs under her belt, both receiving widespread acclaim across Scotland and beyond.
- Alison Brown, a GRAMMY-winning musician, producer, former investment banker and co-founder of The Compass Records Group, is set to extend her impressive musical repertoire to Glasgow City Halls on Friday 26 January. Celebrated for her banjo artistry that transcends its Appalachian roots by infusing bluegrass and jazz influences, Alison’s album On Banjo showcases original compositions and collaborations, garnering accolades from The Wall Street Journal, CBS Sunday Morning and People.
- John Francis Flynn, known for his prowess in traditional Irish folk, is set to showcase his talents as a singer, guitarist, flautist, and double tin whistle practitioner at his intimate performance at Drygate Brewery on Saturday 20 January. His solo debut album, I Would Not Live Always earned two RTE Folk Awards and was named The Guardian’s top Folk Album of 2021 for its intense portrayal of human experiences. With his highly anticipated second album, Look Over The Wall, See The Sky, John continues to ascend as an uncompromising and exceptional figure in folk music.
- Berlin’s Jembaa Groove are gearing up to bring their vibrant debut album to the Celtic Connections stage on Saturday 20 January, infusing the festival with the pulsating rhythms of West African highlife, blended with the essence of classic US jazz and soul. Drawing from both sides of the Atlantic and influenced by Berlin’s hip hop and jazz scene, the band’s energy and musical philosophy echo the spirit of their name.
- An Dannsa Dub, the embodiment of fusion music, are renowned for merging traditional Scottish folk, dub reggae and dance through a blend of cèilidh and sound system sessions, and are set to put on a vibrant set at Glasgow’s iconic Oran Mòr. The group will be supported on Saturday 27 January by the illustrious Gaelic singer Joy Dunlop, known for her profound connection to Highland traditions and Scotland’s ancient dialect.
- Leading lights in Breton music, Skolvan will join forces with multi-instrumentalist Irish group Shorelines Trio on Friday 19 January for a spellbinding performance at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’s Strathclyde Suite. Skolvan, revered in Breton music for four decades, are known for captivating audiences with their remarkable renditions of Brittany’s dance music, while Shorelines Trio are sure to bring their enthralling fusions of traditional Irish song and instrumental expertise to this unique night of music.
- Award-winning Kyiv world music quartet DakhaBrakha, which translates to give/take in old Ukrainian, will bring their astonishing trans-national sound rooted in Ukrainian culture to Glasgow when they play The Pavilion Theatre on Saturday 20 January. The group were scheduled to make their Celtic Connections debut in 2020, but the global pandemic and war in Ukraine have prevented them from reaching the festival until now.
- In a commemorative celebration, Celtic Connections 2024 will see the Traditional Music and Song Association revisit the landmark Scots Women concert from the 2001 festival. On Saturday 3 February at City Halls, Scots Women – Generations o’ Change will honour the original singers of the first performance, while welcoming a new wave of Scottish female folk singers, showcasing a blend of a capella and band-accompanied songs. Featuring an esteemed lineup, the event will be overseen by Musical Director Iona Fyfe and hosted by Scots Poet Len Pennie, promising a vibrant, collaborative journey through Scottish folk music.
- Bríghde Chaimbeul and Maxwell Quartet will unite their diverse musicality in their extraordinary showcase entitled Thar Farraige (Over Sea) at The Mackintosh Church on Saturday 3 February. Brìghde Chaimbeul is widely celebrated for her experimental Celtic music on her mesmerising Scottish smallpipes, crafting entrancing textures and virtuosic melodies. The Maxwell Quartet, renowned for blending classical finesse with folk traditions, present an enchanting repertoire spanning ancient Celtic chants to contemporary compositions. This unique pairing promises an intriguing convergence of styles, amplifying the event’s breadth and depth. Adding to the impressive lineup is Linda Buckley, an acclaimed Irish composer and performer, known for her evocative electronic and acoustic works.
Along with the talented roster of musicians making their way to the city, there are an anticipated 110,000 attendees expected to make their way to Glasgow for Celtic Connections 2024. Organisers are encouraging anyone who has never attended what is the biggest winter festival of its kind to come and experience its magic for themselves.
Donald Shaw, Creative Producer for Celtic Connections, said: “As we gear up for Celtic Connections 2024, the anticipation is palpable, not just for those of us who have been working behind the scenes, but across Glasgow as a whole. We are so looking forward to welcoming folks from near and far – musicians and audiences alike – to the city’s iconic venues for a celebration of music from across the globe.
“To the incredible musicians and dedicated Celtic Connections team, I extend my heartfelt thanks. A huge amount of effort goes into a festival of this scale, and everyone has been working extremely hard to make this year’s 18-day event one of our most memorable. With a diverse lineup across the city, world premieres and rare performances from some of the most coveted artists in the world, there’s truly something special to be uncovered in every corner. Here’s to an incredible Celtic Connections, and to the joy of music bringing us all together on cold winter nights, we’ll see you all very soon!”
Celtic Connections began in 1994 when it offered 66 events at one venue. It has since grown more adventurous, experimental and diverse each year, with an unwavering ambition to showcase the very best traditional folk, roots, Americana, jazz, soul, indie and world music and nurture unique local, national and international cultural partnerships.
Celtic Connections 2024 will take place from Thursday 18th January to Sunday 4th February. The programme can be viewed in full and tickets purchased at www.celticconnections.com.