Every year, the Celtic Connections Festival launches with a torchlight procession through Glasgow city centre.This happens this evening, 16th January. It’s start of three weeks of more than three hundred events across the range of Celtic cultures with collaborations, new voices, and looks back at classics, ballads and ceilidhs, and more than one thousand artists from more than twenty contries sharing their music with audiences who also come from across the globe.

Tonight, the Scottish Power Pipe Band and Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Pipe Band lead a mass of blazing torches from George Square to the Concert Hall steps, as Glasgow lights up for the first day of the festival.

Celebrations commence inside the Hall, as torch-bearers are invited to the Lord Provost’s Drinks Reception, and the festival is pronounced officially open!

It all begins at 5pm Glasgow time

followed by

Celtic Connections Opening Concert “Common Ground”

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Main Auditorium

Celtic Connections 2008 will launch with “Common Ground”, with a host of musicians who have become synonymous with the festival over the years uniting on-stage to celebrate the festival’s 15th birthday.

Fiddler John McCusker will assume the role of Common Ground’s Musical Director, and will be joined on-stage by an all-star line-up of artists for whom Glasgow in January has become a home from home. Featuring Karine Polwart, Kris Drever, Kate Rusby, Sharon Shannon, Luka Bloom, Damien Dempsey, Michael McGoldrick, Karan Casey, Dezi Donnelly, John Joe Kelly, Mike Scott from The Waterboys, Julie Fowlis, Aidan O’Rourke, Iain MacDonald, Lauren MacColl, Jim Murray, James Mackintosh, Ewen Vernal, Kane, Welch and Kaplin and Chris Thile.

Minister for Culture Linda Fabiani who will attend the opening concert said:

“I am greatly looking forward to the 15th Celtic Connections festival. Celtic Connections has placed Scotland at the heart of international interest in Celtic music and heritage. It’s great to see artists from many countries joining our local talent to bring Celtic music lovers together and to give audiences world-class performances they will never forget.”

Common Ground is a distillation of the spirit of collaboration and camaraderie that Celtic Connections is renowned for, with McCusker describing it as “a huge big glorious session.”

The festival will run in venues across Glagsow through 3 February, with artists inlcuding Altan, Danu, Liam Clancy, Cherish the Ladies, Mindy Smith, Paul Brady, Eddi Reader, Tim O’Brien, Emily Smith, Chris Stout, Cara Dillon, Fribo, Alison Brown, and others.

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