Saturday 22 June 2024
 15.3°C   WSW Gentle Breeze

Showcases / Showcase: Unst gears up for music festival

The inaugural Shetland Reel Music Festival is to be held indoors so that everyone can enjoy the music without being distracted by the poor Shetland summer weather.

The organisers had originally planned to erect a main stage on the astroturf at the Saxa Vord resort where the festival is being held.

However the generally wet and windy conditions persuaded them that shelter for festival goers and musicians, including Marley’s Ghost, Jim Salestrom and Liv Taylor from the United States and more than 30 local bands, was necessary.

There will be three stages for the Petrofac-sponsored festival which begins on Friday 14 August and runs until Sunday – the Shetland Reel Stage in the former RAF Saxa Vord supplies building (re-named “Da Factorie”), the Crew Room Stage in the ex-crew room and the Flugga Stage in what was the great hall.

“After the poor summer we’ve had, we were worried that a poor weekend would affect everyone’s enjoyment of the great musical feast we have in store,” said Saxa Vord owner Frank Strang.

“So we’ve effectively moved everything inside. It probably means we’ll end up getting good weather, but if it’s really nice we have a little plan up our sleeve!

“I just hope as many people as possible can come and enjoy a blend of top US and Shetland musicians and savour what should be a very different kind of music festival.”

He added: “A successful music festival would be a huge boost to Unst and set us up nicely to make it an annual event.”

The fun will begin at 6pm on Friday with Blind Summit opening on the Shetland Reel Stage and Wulver taking to the Crew Room Stage half an hour later. The Flugga Stage will be a session space from 6pm until midnight when the after party starring DJ Lyall begins.

Emmy Award winner Jim Salestrom, guitarist in Dolly Parton’s band and a celebrated performer in his own right, will be on the Shetland Reel Stage at 9pm with his son James and his friend Liv Taylor while West Coast band Marley’s Ghost will headline the Crew Room Stage at 10.15pm.

The music will begin again on the Saturday at 12.30pm, going on until 11.45pm, and on the Sunday from 12.30pm until 6.30pm, followed by an Open Mic night run by the Shetland Singers & Songwriters Group.

The full line-up can be seen on the festival website

Livingston Taylor, who is a professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, will also hold a much-anticipated workshop – How to Get an Audience to Listen to (and Pay for) Your Beautiful Music – on the Saturday at 5.30pm on the Flugga Stage.

Tickets for the festival come in two types – weekend tickets and day tickets.

Adult weekend tickets (for those over 18) cost £45 and grant you access to all three days of the festival. Teen weekend tickets (for those aged 13-17) cost £35. Children aged 12 are under can attend for free, but tickets must be booked in advance.

Adult day tickets cost £16 and grant you access to one day of the festival (Friday, Saturday or Sunday). Teen day tickets cost £13 and again children aged 12 or under go free, but tickets must be booked.

All tickets include ferry trips to and from Unst on the special Festival Ferries schedule, details of which are on the website.

The festival will also feature a Shetland Reel Gin afternoon tea, gin tasting sessions, a cocktail bar, a bouncy castle and soft play area for children, a merchandise shop and a local marketplace.

In this the Year of Food & Drink, lots of delicious food and drink will also be served up, sourced locally where possible, and prepared by the on-site catering team in the Saxa Vord kitchens.

The organisers are still looking for volunteers to help out over the weekend and an invitation remains open to local businesses and makers to book table spaces at the on-site market place to sell their wares.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact the festival organisers at while those wishing to book a table should email

Profits from the festival will be donated to charities Horseback UK and Alzheimer Scotland (Shetland branch) as well as Baltasound Junior High School to help with funds and allow local children to join trips out of Shetland.

For those who would like to bring a tent and camp at the festival, or a caravan to stay in, this is free of charge, but the organisers ask that you call 01957 711 711 to let them know in advance so they can assign enough space.

Tickets are available via the Shetland Box Office at, on the phone (01595 745 555), or in person at Mareel or Islesburgh.

You can also follow the festival on Facebook ( and Twitter @shetlandreel.


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