Island music-lovers are being urged to pick up their tickets for the Hebridean Celtic Festival – before the big influx of visitors begins to swamp the shop.

Off-island festival-goers – both visitors and homecomers – are expected to begin arriving from Saturday, making the most of a holiday week in Lewis while the festival is on. That means Buth HebCelt will soon see queues forming and longer waits to pick up tickets.

Festival director Caroline Maclennan told welovestornoway.com today (Tuesday July 9th): “Islanders have the chance to get their tickets and merchandise ahead of the rush, and we’d really like to see more of them in here. You’ll get a really warm welcome if you come in nice and early. You can collect tickets ordered online, buy those that are still available and get yourself a nice snug hoody or bobble hat while you are here.”

The invitation comes on the day that groundwork began on the Castle Green, ahead of the major set-up schedule which begins later in the week. The big tent is due to arrive on Thursday night’s ferry and fences are already up to cordon off the main arena area.

Also announced today was the launch of brand new HebCelt apps for iPhone and Android which provide dates, times and venues for every concert during the four-day festival, from 17th to 20th July.

Their development was supported with funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and was a labour of love for Sam Jones, son of the festival’s finance director, Martin Jones.

He has been helping at the festival since he was eight, first in the tuck shop at the children’s event and later as part of the on-site teams. He completed the Android app last year as the final part of his computing degree with the Open University and this year worked on converting it to use on iPhones.

Sam said: “The app is essentially a digital version of the festival brochure; users can see all the information about the different artists, where they are playing and when. There's also information about the various fringe events surrounding the festival and they can save their favourites to create a personalised schedule, as well as a map to help find their way to the different venues.”

HebCelt Director Caroline Maclennan said: “Having this technology available is going to be a great addition to our promotional tools to help keep our audience informed about the festival. We are extremely grateful to Sam for developing these apps and to HIE for supporting the project.”

You can download the app for iPhone here (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/hebcelt-2019/id1468536195?ign-mpt=uo%3D2)  and for Android (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hebcelt) here. Buth HebCelt is on Kenneth Street, in the former Gazette shop, right opposite main town centre venue An Lanntair.

The pictures show Sam with his app ready for use, the Buth HebCelt team with Caroline Maclennan (centre) and early customers collecting their tickets today.