Celtic Connections 2024 launches winter festival programme in Glasgow today

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Celtic Connections begins today in Glasgow!

Europe’s premier folk, roots and world music festival Celtic Connections opens in Glasgow today, Thursday January 18, for what will be one of its biggest-ever capacity programmes.

Running until Sunday, February 4, the renowned 18-day event will kickstart Scotland’s annual cultural calendar and showcase Glasgow’s UNESCO City of Music status and its role as the country’s cultural powerhouse, welcoming celebrated artists and enthusiastic attendees from around the world for an inimitable celebration of cultural exchange and musical innovation.

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Delivered by charity Glasgow Life as part of the city’s annual cultural events programme, Celtic Connections attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees, and the contribution the festival makes to Scotland’s cultural landscape and international reputation, as well as Glasgow’s visitor economy, cannot be understated.

Over the course of the next two weeks, 1200 artists will perform at over 300 events, lighting up 25 venues across the city with world-class performances and exclusive collaborations for what is the biggest winter music festival of its kind in Europe.

With a programme which famously expands year on year, the music of this Celtic festival and its all-important connections will cover everything from trad, folk, roots, Americana and jazz to soul, rock, orchestral, experimental and world music. 

With a number of shows already sold out, and an anticipated 110,000 attendees expected to make their way to Glasgow for Celtic Connections 2024, organisers are encouraging music lovers not to delay in booking tickets so they don’t miss the chance to experience some unforgettable live performances.

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Kicking things off in spectacular style is tonight’s sold out Opening Concert which will see an expansive and genre-defying spectacle with the European premiere of ATTENTION! The remarkable new symphonic work from American Grammy winner Chris Thile – referred to by Billboard Magazine as “the best mandolin player in the world” – will also welcome the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra to the stage, with guests including festival favourites Rachel Sermanni, Dreamers’ Circus and Sarah Jarosz.

The Barrowland Ballroom will be hosting a number of shows at this year's Celtic Connections festival. Picture: Gaelle BeriThe Barrowland Ballroom will be hosting a number of shows at this year's Celtic Connections festival. Picture: Gaelle Beri
The Barrowland Ballroom will be hosting a number of shows at this year's Celtic Connections festival. Picture: Gaelle Beri

In another groundbreaking collaboration, the trailblazing Scottish Ensemble will join forces with American double-bassist and composer Edgar Meyer at Barony Hall on Saturday 20 January. On this dynamic evening of music where classical meets folk, world-renowned Edgar Mayer will perform a set of soul-stirring Gaelic songs with celebrated Scottish fiddler Donald Grant, award-winning Gaelic singer Mischa Macpherson, harpist and composer Ailie Robertson and renowned Uillean piper Jarlath Henderson.

Among the array of international acts gracing the stages is Swedish folk ensemble Väsen, set to enchant audiences at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on Friday 26 January with music both intense and full of humour. Formed in 1989 by the duo of Olov Johansson, master of the nyckelharpa, and Mikael Marin, a virtuoso on the viola, Väsen's music finds its roots in the traditional melodies of Uppland

Adding to the rich tapestry of global sounds is musical luminary Angélique Kidjo, set to perform at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Monday 29 January. Renowned for her three-decade-long career and unmatched artistry, Angélique is an icon in the realm of international music, inspiring countless artists and creators of West African music, Afrobeat, Afro-pop, dancehall, hip-hop and alt-R&B. 

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Also performing at the Royal Concert Hall on Tuesday 30 January is Carlos Núñez. The international star of Galician music will be joined by very special guests including a rare appearance from one of Canada’s finest fiddlers, Natalie McMasterand Capercaillie vocalist Karen Matheson. On Thursday 1 February, acclaimed American banjo player Bèla Fleck performs with his Grammy winning bluegrass line-up. Over the past four decades, Bèla has pioneered a musical journey that has taken the instrument from its bluegrass roots to genres including jazz, classical, pop and world music.

Celtic Connections 2024 launches today (January 18)Celtic Connections 2024 launches today (January 18)
Celtic Connections 2024 launches today (January 18)

Norway is this year’s Showcase Scotland international partner country and the Scandinavian talent represented at Celtic Connections 2024 includes Tromsø-born violinist, singer, and composer Julie Alapnes, Slovakian-Norwegian orchestra Angrusori, Norwegian traditional trios Erlend Viken and  Ævestaden, and Sámi band Gabba, who blend traditional yoik with influences from Norwegian folk music, Americana and other world musics into their own 'Tundra Blues’.

On Thursday 25 January, Barony Hall will welcome a host of musical talent for New Tradition, a celebration of folk artists from across the UK and Ireland, featuring award-winning singer Fiona Hunter, celebrated musician Adam Holmes, acclaimed Irish singer and flautist Steph Geremia, Scotland’s bouzouki powerhouse Aaron Jones and special guests including John McCusker, Kris Drever and Alan Kelly. 

Another programme highlight comes from Orcadian folk quartet Fara, who are set to bridge borders, cultures and genres with an unforgettable night of international collaboration at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 3 February. With guests from Mali, America, the Caribbean, Quebec and Syria, this performance highlights the undeniable connective power of music.

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As well as music for listening to, Celtic Connections is famed for bringing people together through dance. On the roster for 2024 is A Ceilidh for Gordon, a night to celebrate the life and legacy of Tiree accordion tutor Gordon Connell, The RSCDS Ceilidh, which promotes Scottish country dance and all related dance forms as inclusive, exciting activities that can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere, and Ando Glaso, set to take the ceilidh format known and loved in Scotland, and introduce a Transylvanian dance element.

The Treacherous Orchestra at the Old Fruitmarket during Celtic Connections 2022. Picture: Gaelle BeriThe Treacherous Orchestra at the Old Fruitmarket during Celtic Connections 2022. Picture: Gaelle Beri
The Treacherous Orchestra at the Old Fruitmarket during Celtic Connections 2022. Picture: Gaelle Beri

Scotland’s famous hospitality will be on full display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery on Thursday January 25 at the Celtic Connections Burns Supper. Attendees will have the chance to toast the famous bard in style with a Lochlea dram amid striking surroundings, a gourmet musical menu and much loved exponents of Burns song performed by the likes of Fiona Hunter, Sean Gray, Hannah Fisher, Sorren MacLean, and the Glasgow Chapel choir, amongst other special guests.

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 18 January to Sunday 4 February. The programme can be viewed in full and tickets purchased at www.celticconnections.com.

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