NORMALLY at this time of year Carol Anderson would be preparing to head to the eastern Caribbean in preparation for the Barbados Celtic Festival.

However, as we all know these are not normal times and, after Covid forced the cancellation of last year’s event, the show will go online next week as travel is still restricted.

Anderson, director of Edinburgh public relations company The Business PR, took her first holiday to Barbados in 1999, and immediately fell in love with the small island and its people.

She returned several times and 10 years ago became director of the Celtic festival, which started in the 1990s, when a Welsh woman persuaded her father’s male voice choir to perform from Wales.

Their concert, and a band of visiting pipers were hugely. successful – and the Barbados Celtic Festival was born.

“I took over directorship in 2011 and since then we have had some great well-known names in our line ups over the years, all of whom have offered us footage for the online event next week,” Anderson told The National. “We are sharing one or two tunes from all 19 acts – which are pre-recorded and you can watch each day from May 25 to 30.

“These include the iconic Eddi Reader, the Peatbog Faeries from Skye, fiddler John McCusker, vocalist Heidi Talbot, Arturo Tappin the awesome saxophonist from Barbados who regularly plays the Edinburgh Festival but who joined in with the former Average White Band musicians Hamish Stuart and the late Molly Duncan when they played Barbados with us in 2018.

“We will have pieces from pipers who have joined in our Big Band Street parade since 2017, the Strathallan School Pipe Band, Reading Scottish Pipe band, piper and bagpipe maker Hamish Moore, Duncan Mackinnon.”

The list of talent seems never-ending, and also includes the band Old Man Flanagans Ghost, who play Celtic music in Canada and award-winning vocalist Jeana Leslie and her band Fara from Orkney.

Borders fiddle band Riddell Fiddles, will also take part, along with pupils from the Suzuki violin school in Barbados and Glasgow’s Public House Orchestra. Edinburgh chef Paul Wedgwood will demonstrate some of the dishes he has cooked up in Barbados, with vocal backing from the Haverford West Male Voice Choir from Wales.

“Every year we have a street parade with visiting solo pipers and pipe bands from around the world – making up our ‘Big Band’ and playing alongside the Barbados Defence Band marching band, sharing tunes like Amazing Grace,” said Anderson.

“It’s an event I am hugely proud of having built it up a bit more in the last 10 years since I took over as volunteer director, and developed the cultural exchanges.

“The festival has grown to be of global interest attracting musicians from all over.

Anderson added: “Our last events on the ground included a Welsh choir from Swansea who had the privilege to meet the renowned cricketer Sir Garfield Sobers who they remembered scoring six sixes in Swansea many decades ago.

“They then did a flash mob song from Barbados at the airport on departure which was filmed by a local and went viral on social media.”