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Haal traditional music festival declared a success


By Kyle Ritchie

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Organisers of Portsoy’s Haal festival celebrating traditional music have hailed the event as a resounding success.

Folk at the Salmon Bothy delivered a plentiful programme of concerts, sessions, workshops and sing-arounds, showcasing traditional music, song, dance and stories as part of the event which was held in the town from May 31 to June 2.

Now in its 14th year, the three-day event attracted numerous participants and large audiences.

A lively performance of toe-tapping tunes from the Cloughmor Ceili Band quickly earned them the accolade as an audience favourite. Picture: Mary Masson Photography
A lively performance of toe-tapping tunes from the Cloughmor Ceili Band quickly earned them the accolade as an audience favourite. Picture: Mary Masson Photography

As the sun shone for much of the event, attendees enjoyed the buoyant atmosphere and melodic tunes aplenty, as a plethora of performers delivered enthralling concerts and sessions across the town.

Organisers maintained their reputation for booking high quality professional acts, with headliners including two of the biggest names in British folk music, Allan Taylor and Jacqui Mcshee.

A wonderful songwriter and guitar player, Allan Taylor captivated the audience with numerous hits from his musical collection, whilst Jacqui Mcshee's Pentangle, a reincarnation of the 1960s groundbreaking group, delighted the audience with their musical repertoire, accompanied beautifully by Jacqui's rich voice.

Veteran Scottish traditional singers Arthur Watson and Chris Miles performed, as well as young award-winning Aberdeenshire fiddler George Davidson, and Irish guitar maestro Gearaidh Matthews.

A lively performance of toe-tapping tunes from the Cloughmor Ceili Band quickly earned them the accolade as an audience favourite.

The Haal Fringe was a new introduction to this year’s programme and was well received by event visitors.

Acts including Fil Campbell and Tom McFarland from Belleek, Bob Sharp, Alyson and Neil MacConnachie, Moonshine Madness, Dick and Maggie Trickey, The Sir-Reel Clarks, SC&T Youth, and Beyond Boyndie, performed across venues in the town.

Bob Philips, chairman of Folk at the Salmon Bothy, said: “Feedback from performers, audiences and local businesses has been resoundingly positive.

“I would like to record my personal thanks to our local business for their massive vote of confidence and support towards the event.

“Also, our thanks go to our sponsors Kenway Tyre Services, Hydrasun Aberdeen, Portsoy Thrift Shop, Portsoy 75 Club, Hamlyns of Scotland, and our local businesses, whose continued support allows us to host the event, and offer tickets at affordable prices, as well as a range of free sessions across the weekend.”

Dates have already been set for the 15th Haal which will take place from May 30 to June 1, 2025.

Folk at the Salmon Bothy invite attendees to their open mic sessions, frequently with guests performing extended sets, which are held in the Salmon Bothy on the third Friday of each month from 7pm. All are welcome to come along and sing, play, tell a story, or simply listen and enjoy.

Further information on all Folk at the Salmon Bothy events is available at www.bothyfolk.org or on the Folk at the Salmon Bothy Facebook page.


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