A MAJOR Gaelic festival has kicked off in Paisley today with a programme packed full of music and culture lined-up over the next week.

The Royal National Mòd has arrived back in the town for the first time in a decade with an opening night concert set to take place on Friday evening in the first full-scale show at Paisley Town Hall since its reopening.

Around 7000 visitors are expected to descend on the Renfrewshire town over the coming nine days – with the festival finishing on Saturday, October 21 - to soak up the vast range of performances, competitions, recitals and cultural activities on offer.

Around 2000 participants will take part in 200 competitions, with stages, halls and libraries in more than 20 venues across Paisley and its surrounding areas bursting to life for the event which is expected to generate in excess of £2 million to the local economy.

READ MORE: Senior Scottish Labour figures at odds over devolution comments

James Graham, chief executive officer of organiser An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “We are incredibly excited to welcome faces old and new to The Royal National Mòd in Paisley.

“It’s wonderful to officially get this year’s event underway with the incredible sounds of Breabach at such a special venue like Paisley Town Hall. It’s been a decade since we brought the Mòd to Paisley and the town has already shown such warmth and enthusiasm for hosting this event once again.

“We appreciate locals welcoming us honorary ‘buddies’ for the next nine days as we bring our music, culture, friendship and hospitality to the streets, pubs, libraries, venues and concert halls of Renfrewshire.”

Friday evening will see the Mòd’s programme of performances and competition kick off with a concert headlined by multi-award winning five-piece group Breabach from Lochaber, while the first Mòd Festival Club will burst into life tonight at The Sneddon.

These relaxed sessions will provide a place for attendees and musicians to socialise and soak up the festival atmosphere throughout the week, with the Graham McLennan Trio first up to entertain audiences.

The town’s pubs will also play host to some lively trad music from artists around the world over the nine days for the Mòd Phàislig 2023 Late and Live programme. It all kicks off on Friday night with Canadian folk duo Pierre Schryer and Adam Dobres playing in The Bungalow, Celtic folk fusion band Reely Jiggered getting a ceilidh going at The Old Swan and Irish-Scottish folk duo Fuaim getting toes tapping at The Keg.

Competition highlights across the piece will include the An Comunn Gàidhealach Gold Medal final next Wednesday and the Traditional Gold Medal final next Thursday.

The Combined Rural Choirs' Competitions and Combined Area Choirs' Competitions will also return on Thursday and Friday next week bringing choral singers from across Scotland together, while the event’s fringe programme sees everything from history-making sporting clashes to late-night pub sessions and concerts from the brightest talent across the Gaeldom.

Competition get underway on Saturday for pipers, fiddle players, accordionists with plenty of shinty action also lined up.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak 'masterminded Lisa Cameron's Tory defection'

The Mòd Football Cup will see two fluent Gaelic-speaking teams, Gàidheil Ghlaschu and Na Gàidheil, play off against one another for the first time since the annual match launched in Perth in 2004.

Maggie Cunningham, president of An Comunn Gàidhealach, added: “The event will showcase the national and international importance and profile of the Gaelic language, provide an important opportunity for Gaels and Gaelic supporters to come together in celebration, share the significant cultural benefits of the event with musicians, artists and audience members alike and have a positive impact on the economy of our host town of Paisley.”

To mark the opening of this year’s event, organisers An Comunn Gàidhealach have announced the Gaelic Ambassador of the Year as Gaelic singer, researcher and broadcaster, Linda MacLeod.

Over the years MacLeod has voiced many BBC ALBA programmes and now works part-time as a presenter on CBeebies ALBA. In 2015 she was awarded Bòrd na Gàidhlig and The Daily Record’s Young Gaelic Ambassador of the Year award.

She said: “It is a huge honour and a lovely surprise to be named Gaelic Ambassador of the Year. The Gaelic language has been a constant in my life and is very important to me, without it I don’t know where I’d be or what I’d be up to today.

“I have been very fortunate to have worked on various Gaelic projects and with every age in the community. The Gaelic language is very dear to me and I’m proud and thankful that it is such a big part of my life.”

To find out more about events or to book tickets, click here.