HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan; Dr Vicki Ooi; Steve Taylor; festival site manager Iain Macphail; Oscar Fung  

The Hebridean Celtic Festival opens for the 23rd time tonight (Wednesday July 18th) and has already proven inspirational for some overseas visitors.

A delegation from Sha Lo Wan, a village of just 50 people in Lantau Island, Hong Kong, has travelled to Stornoway to learn from HebCelt ahead of hosting its first music, dance and drama festival in November.

Artistic director Dr Vicki Ooi and Oscar Fung, of AFTEC (the Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection), watched the final preparations for HebCelt this week and will enjoy the opening two days of the award-winning festival, which runs until Saturday night.

The Hong Kong visitors were also able to question HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan in a meeting arranged by Steve Taylor, an environmentalist and economic development advisor who has worked with major events including HebCelt, T in the Park, the Lake of Stars Festival in Malawi and Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games Festival.

He said it has been a great experience for the visitors: “It’s been fascinating for them to see the festival being set up and find out about things like community support and raising funds.

“They have learned a lot already and will take home many ideas, including the fact that festivals can create many opportunities for a small community, including jobs.”       

Sha Lo Wan is accessible only by foot and ferry and suffers from depopulation and a fragile economy.  The villagers decided to organise a festival and develop it as a cultural hub to help regenerate the area, using HebCelt as a model of using traditional culture as an asset.

 

Caroline Maclennan said: “It was a pleasure to welcome our visitors from Sha Lo Wan and hopefully their visit here will give them some ideas and encouragement to get their own festival established.”

Day tickets are available from the festival shop and website. See www.hebceltfest.com