A HEARTFELT tribute is being planned for the founder of a much-loved music festival as it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Moray folk festival Speyfest was founded in 1995 by the late James M Alexander who realised Fochabers would make a spectacular setting for a summer event showcasing ­traditional music, dance and crafts.

The festival was founded on the premise that it would give musicians a chance to meet and learn from the best known musicians on the scene and with help from the local Fochabers Gala Committee, fellow musicians, the headteacher and pupils of Milne’s High School and many others, Speyfest became a reality.

Over the past 25 years, it has grown from a local event with one small tent holding around 300 ­people, to a 1500-capacity tented village ­welcoming visitors of all ages, from pre-school children to senior citizens.

James died earlier this year but his musical legacy will be marked by a performance from some of his closest musical colleagues, including Charlie McKerron, Douglas Lawrence, Paul Anderson and Gregor Borland, who will share some of the tunes they played together over the years.

“This year’s festival is made all the more poignant by the passing of our dear friend and founder James Alexander and we have every intention of doing him proud with this year’s milestone event,” said Speyfest Association vice-chair Ashleigh Macgregor.

Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Skerryvore, Elephant Sessions, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham are among the performers along with Rura.

The festival will also welcome Celtic pop act Dougal’s Jumper, trad band Tir-Mor, ceilidh band Makarakit and Moray seven-piece The Forty Elephants, local talent Colin Campbell And Friends, Speyside trio Kilderkin, Elgin rock artist Danny Mortimer and Edinburgh’s group Chameleon Lady.

The Speyfest Young Entertainer of the Year competition will return and entries are open now, with the winner bagging a coveted spot on the Speyfest 2022 line up.

Alongside the mix of music and culture hosted in Speyfest’s Tented Village, the best in local food and drink will be showcased throughout the weekend.

“To mark the festival’s 25th anniversary, a bespoke commemorative gin created in partnership with AVVA Scottish Gin will be launched. There will also be a craft fair, traditional music workshops and a non-denominational Celtic kirk service.

The festival is on from July 22-24 and tickets are available from www.speyfest.com.