Highlands & Islands Blàs Festival returns with piping front and centre
Live piping performances will return in full force at the 2021 Blàs Festival, the nine-day celebration of Gaelic creativity across the Highlands & Islands of Scotland November 19-27, with the likes of James Duncan Mackenzie, Dàimh (featuring Angus Mackenzie), Assynt (featuring David Shedden), Ross Ainslie, Dr. Angus MacDonald, and Brìghde Chaimbeul taking various stages.
Like just about everything else on earth, the annual festival took a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, and most of the performers, who include every manner of Gaelic culture and Scottish traditional music performance at venues from Staffin in Skye to Strathy and Applecross to Arisaig.
The November 19th opening night in South Uist will see piper Catriona Garbutt joined by Sineag MacIntyre. Dr. Angus, Niall Campbell and Ruairidh Gray, and then the recently-married 2019 Northern Meeting Silver Medallist James Duncan Mackenzie and his wife, Gaelic singer and harpist Katie Mackenzie, will perform at An Lanntair in Stornoway, Lewis, as Celtic music’s newest super-duo.
Ross Ainslie performs with Tim Edey in Arisaig (Nov. 20th) and Resolis (Nov. 24th); Brìghde Chaimbeul headlines in Inverness (Nov. 20th) and Roybridge (Nov. 22nd); the folk band Dàimh plays in Gairloch (Nov. 22); and Assynt, featuring David Shedden, plays Croy (Nov 25th).
A total of 26 in-person concerts and cèilidhs and a host of workshops and livestreamed performances comprise the Blas Festival.
Inspired by the Celtic Colours traditional music festival in Cape Breton, Canada, the Blàs Festival was created in 2003 by the Highland Council with local and Fèisean nan Gàidheal and promoters, primary funders and supporters, including Creative Scotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, and Highlands & Islands Enterprise.
The Gaelic “Blàs” in English means “taste” or “sample.”