Our guide to Celtic Connections 2020

From 16 January - 2 February, Celtic Connections brightens the winter months with a creative and collaborative programme of concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, workshops and free events in Glasgow.

There is an amazing range of events, spanning an incredible 16 genres and 18 days - we’ve picked some highlights, but view the full programme for even more!

A large orchestra are on a stage lit in shades of purple and blue

Opening Night: The GRIT Orchestra 'The Declaration'

16 January, 7.30pm

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Supported by the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund, GRIT Orchestra is an 80-piece ensemble of folk, jazz and classical musicians. Six of their members were commissioned to create new symphonic compositions inspired by the Declaration of Arbroath, ahead of its 700th anniversary in April, which will be performed at the opening night concert.

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Breabach @ 15 with Seamus Egan Project

17 January, 7.30pm

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Multi award-winning Scottish contemporary folk band Breabach are joined by an array of past members and special guests, as well as multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan's solo project.

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Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 and Carla J. Easton

17 - 18 January, 9.30pm

Old Fruitmarket

Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 take inspiration from diverse acts such as Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, Frank Zappa and Bob Marley. At Celtic Connections, they'll be joined by Carla J. Easton, who has been working on a PRS Foundation Women Make Music supported album, and has recently joined Scottish band The Vaselines on live dates.

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Coastal Connections: STORM

18 January, 10am

Walking Tour

Edinburgh's Vision Mechanics epic new project will be unveiled on Celtic Connections Coastal Day on 18 January. STORM is a ten metre tall female puppet made in Scotland from woven willow, steel and timber - her purpose is to urge care for the environment she stems from at every step. Her first appearance will be accompanied by a specially commissioned soundscape from award-winning musician Mairi Campbell.

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SIAN / EBEN and the Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail

24 January, 7.30pm

City Halls

Gaelic song trio SIAN join together with Breton counterparts EBEN to sing songs in their own and each other's languages, highlighting the intriguing similarities between traditional songs in each. Support comes from the Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail, a strand of activity that provides visitors to Scotland with the opportunity to experience authentic traditional Scottish music in a wide range of settings, while providing young musicians with a professional development opportunity.

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Elaine Lennon Album Launch and support

24 January, 7.30pm

The Glad Cafe

Elaine Lennon's first performance was in 2018. Since then, she has earned comparisons to Carole King, Stevie Nicks and Linda Ronstadt, and was named as one of the Nashville Songwriters' Association International 2019 'One To Watch'. In addition to the album launch, Elaine will also perform on the 19th at the Danny Kyle Winner’s Showcase.

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Kinnaris Quintet and Westward The Light

31 January, 7.30pm

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, New Auditorium

Belhaven Bursary winners Kinnaris Quintet, made up of highly respected Scottish folk scene musicians on three fiddles, a mandolin and a guitar, are joined by Westward The Light, launching their debut album following a number of sold out shows including at 2019's Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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Alex Rex Album Launch featuring Lavinia Blackwall and Stilton, Cath and Phil Tyler & Boss Morris

1 February, 7.30pm


Following on from two critically acclaimed solo albums, Alex Rex returns to Celtic Connections for the exclusive launch of his new album Andromeda, joined by singer, songwriter and arranger Lavinia Blackwall and Stilton, Anglo-American folk musicians Cath & Phil Tyler, and all female Morris Dancing Boss Morris.

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Salsa Celtica 25th Anniversary Big Band and Project SMOK

1 February, 8pm

Old Fruitmarket

Salsa Celtica are an 11 piece band featuring musicians from Scotland, Ireland and Cuba, and celebrate their 25th anniversary with old friends and new, with Project SMOK, who are launching their debut album, Horizons.


365 featuring Aidan O'Rourke & James Robertson

2 February, 7.30pm

The Mackintosh Church

365 stems from James Robertson's 2013 project to write a 365 word short story every day of the year (subsequently published by Penguin as 365:Stories). Fiddler, composer and curator Aidan O'Rourke decided to build on the project by writing a song every day in response - listen to the highlights of the albums, performed with Kit Downes on piano and harmonium, Sorren Maclean on guitar and special guests, with readings from James and guests Tam Dean Burn, Gerda Stevenson and Iona Zajac.

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Bogha-frois: LGBT+ Voices in Folk

2 February, 8pm

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Strathclyde Suite

Bogh-fhrois (Rainbow) is a project that gathers LGBT+ folk musicians from all over the country to write, collaborate on and perform songs in the folk tradition, which tell stories about life as a member of the LGBT+ community. It returns to Celtic Connections following a much-lauded inaugural showcase at the 2019 festival.

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Showcase Scotland

29 January - 2 February

As part of Celtic Connections, we are proud to be a partner to Scotland's largest international music industry event, Showcase Scotland, annually bringing 200 global delegates to Glasgow during the festival. Find out more about this industry event on the Celtic Connections website:

Showcase Scotland at Celtic Connections

Image: The Grit, credit - Mihaela Bodlovic

This article was published on 09 Jan 2020