WITH stunning, white sandy beaches, world-class surf and more sunshine than almost anywhere else in the UK, it’s hard to see how the “Hawaii of the north” could add to its attractions.

Yet Tiree has managed to do just that by staging a music festival that has become so popular that tickets for this year’s event sold out within five hours.

This Friday, July 17, the island’s population will swell to more than three times its normal size when 1,700 festival-goers celebrate the start of the weekend’s Tiree Music Festival.

Voted the Best Small Event at the UK Event Awards last November, the judges said they were “blown away by the application and impact that the event has had on such a remote area”.

This year Scottish band The Fratellis are the headline act and will close the festival on the main stage on Sunday, July 19. It is the band’s only Scottish festival this summer.

“We are really looking forward to playing TMF,” said Jon Fratelli. “We have heard the crowds are brilliant and it looks like a stunning setting. It will be our only festival performance in Scotland this summer as we are in the studio at the moment so TMF punters will have the chance to hear some of our new tracks.”

Festival director Daniel Gillespie added: “Since the creation of TMF in 2010 we have been annually striving to attract an iconic Scottish band to Tiree so we are just ecstatic to have The Fratellis headlining TMF2015.”


WE BANJO 3, Skerryvore, Manran, Gentlemen Of Few, Skipinnish, The Chaplins, Cherry Grove, Trail West, Gunna Sound, Dun Mor, The Lowground and Chunks are also performing and this year BBC Alba will record highlights from the island festival for the first time to be broadcast later this summer.

“We are absolutely delighted BBC Alba will be broadcasting the festival,” said Gillespie. “It will be the first time that TMF has been aired on live television, so [it] will be a great opportunity for those who missed out on tickets, or who are considering attending next year, to get a feel for the festival and the island.”

Channel editor Margaret Cameron said: “BBC Alba has become renowned for showcasing some of the finest music on offer in Scotland and the Tiree Music Festival fits that bill, quickly establishing itself as a highlight in the nation’s musical calendar. The festival has a real family feel and we are certain that its charm and warmth will appeal to viewers as they get to witness some of the finest performances from the event.”

The festival was the brainchild of Tiree local Stewart MacLennan and Gillespie, who was playing at festivals around the world with Skerryvore and wanted something similar on his own island that would help boost the economy by sharing its beauty with visitors.

The first event in 2010 resulted in sold-out, 600 capacity event. An army of volunteers has helped grow the festival and it is still selling-out as capacity increases.

“As each year goes by we are overwhelmed by the response to tickets; the festival is consecutively selling out faster than the previous year and often before we have even announced the full line -up,” said Gillespie.

Famed for its breezy, laid-back atmosphere and idyllic setting, the multi-award-winning event attracts a diverse audience and is well-known as being one of the most family-friendly in the UK.

Funbox, the Singing Kettle’s new guise, will be hosting a Pirates and Princess beach party on the Friday afternoon and shows throughout the weekend, while top chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will be cooking dishes using local produce with the star from his River Cottage apprentice scheme, Sam Lomas.

Explained MacLennan: “Our annual visitor survey is crucial to our planning for each festival and some of the key feedback from last year was to have more activities for children and families. The Singing Kettle has been the premier family show in Scotland for decades so to have the exciting new show Funbox at TMF2015 is a fantastic addition to our family activities and shows throughout the weekend.”

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall added: “As a regular visitor to Tiree I am looking forward to collaborating with one of Tiree’s best-known caterers, Sian Milne of Beachcomber Café, to create a pop-up café and take-away at the festival.”


TIREE Music Festival is just one of a multitude of folk festivals taking place this summer in Scotland. This weekend alone sees Butefest on the Isle of Bute and the Lossie Folk Festival at Lossiemouth.

On Friday, July 24, there is a Traditional Singing Weekend at Cullerlie, Aberdeenshire, while the Southern Fried Festival takes place in Perth on Thursday, July 30, with Speyfest the following day at Fochabers.

Shetland holds its Fiddle Frenzy on Sunday, August 2, and the popular Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival is on Thursday, August 6, in Beauly, offering a mix of local and international artists.

Wednesday, August 19, sees Marymass Folk Festival in Irvine and the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival in Campbeltown with Innerleithen Music Festival on Friday, August 21.

September offers the Blas Festival in multiple Highland locations on Friday, September 4; Linlithgow Folk Festival on Wednesday, September 9, and Dunbar Traditional Music Festival on Friday, September 25.

In October there is a choice of Feis Na Mara in Mallaig on Friday, October 2; Glasgow Americana on Wednesday, October 7, and Blazin’ in Beauly, which will be held in Beauly on Sunday, October 11.

The ten-day music festival of Perthshire Amber is running this year from Friday, October 30, until Sunday, November 8, and will again see a wide range of music from Scotland and across the globe in unusual venues all over Perthshire, including the Iron Age crannog on Loch Tay and the prestigious Perth Concert Hall.

The separate event of Perthshire Accordion and Fiddle Festival is on Saturday, October 31.

Festivals continue into November, beginning with the Denholm Folk Festival on Friday, November 6.