Celtic Connections: After Hours

celtic-connectionsThere is an after-hours advantage when festival performances are held on the pavements, pubs and platforms of a city.

Admittedly, driveling drunk in dribbling drizzle can have its funny moments and tents can be the ultimate shenanigan shelter but in general being inside is mighty nice.

Moreover, rather than the musicians being lewd back stage they are more likely to be lured on stage for another round.

Festival Club

Festival Club is renowned for providing quality entertainment into the early hours, with acts that have featured during the day playing finale upon jam upon encore upon session.

Many would claim that until you’ve frequented the Festival Club, you haven’t really been to Celtic Connections.

So, if you want to go to Celtic Connections… like really really go… then get a Festival Club ticket before they sell out (which they do).

Unfortunately in the last few years the Festival Club has found itself homeless.

2014 was supposed to be the year that it went back into the Vic Bar at the Art School.

This was an exciting prospect for many; a night at Festival Club and also a chance to snoop at the renovation, however, the Art School is not ready to reopen, and therefore, through no fault of Celtic Connections; we are stuck in Walkabout again.

I feel sorry for Plan B, no one likes Plan B, because Plan A is just so darn shiny.

Walkabout? I’m sure there is a tenuous link in there somewhere about how the Aboriginal culture and didgeridoos but it just doesn’t click; it just doesn’t connect.

It’s small, there are surfboards on the wall and it’s just. not. the. same. at. all.

Late Night Sessions

The Celtic Connections crew is a canny bunch and knows all about that supply and demand and stuff.

They know some people don’t resonate with the venue or being rammed so tightly in.

Plus, with Festival Club being a constant sell-out they know there are still gig goers scouring the city for fun.

The Late Night Sessions at the National Piping Centre are the perfect antidote to that.

Offering just as many acts with a more relaxed atmosphere, the Late Night Sessions are a fairly recent addition to the festival that has been very well received.

Hosted by the respected and charismatic Findlay Napier (Findlay Napier and the Bar Room Mountaineers), it’s a brilliant alternative to the Festival Club.

Hell, try both!

Unofficial nights

With two official Celtic Connections after dark affairs you would think that the party market would be saturated but, believe it or not, holding a citywide event with 2,100 artists attracts folk.

Increased population + January blues + post-gig elation = drams.

You may find that some of the unofficial nights that crop up around Glasgow provide as much entertainment at a cheaper price.

They may not have the swishy italics of the Celtic Connections logo but there’s banter to be had off the beaten track.

I mean, even those with the purest of lungs will admit there is craic to be had in the smoker’s area.

Broadcast is one of the pups that has picked up the CC scent – it’s ears perked up at the word ‘festival’, it had a sniff of the line-up and now it’s marking its territory with some fine bookings.

So far Donald MacDonald & the Islands, Macanta and Urban Teuchtars have performed.

On the opening weekend of the festival they have a night dedicated to electronic Celtic music.

The night features acts that have played at past Celtic Connection’s event ‘Beat Bothy’ and somewhat highlights the lack of dance music on this year’s bill.

The night features DJ sets from Jason Seagull (Subcity/Salad Days), Innes Strachan (Niteworks) and Dolphin Boy.

The music will be predominantly house and disco with traditional elements mixed in.

The Flying Duck is a stone’s throw from Walkabout and makes a handy refuge for those who can’t stand the Australian heat.

Home to Folky Town (Where the Folk’s at?), a night run throughout the year that comes into its own during CC season.

Most Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the festival folkies’ll gather under the duck’s wing – the wing being extended by Calum MacCrimmon of Breabach and Man’s Ruin – to drink/strum/sing/dance until the early hours in the venue’s makeshift kitchen.


Words: Leonie Colmar


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