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Arts / Folk festival sales have ‘absolutely exceeded expectations’

Strong community support as organisers prepare for event’s first outing since 2019


ORGANISERS have described sales for the return of Shetland Folk Festival this spring as “extremely encouraging”, with music fans buying up tickets in greater numbers than expected.

The 40th helping of the festival will take place on the final weekend of April – the first time the enduringly popular roots music jamboree has been staged since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Festival booker Mhari McLeman said sales had been brisk with rural concerts and new late night shows at the Lerwick Legion “in particularly high demand”.

While most Covid-19 restrictions have now been lifted, there was inevitably a degree of uncertainty and trepidation as to how ticket sales would fare.

“It’s so unbelievably great to be back with a festival offering once more,” Mhari said. “After a very different two years for everyone, we really had no idea how it would go but it’s such a relief to say that early sales have absolutely exceeded our expectations.

“A huge thanks has to go to all of our supporters who have backed our efforts to provide concerts and a festival club in an appropriate way this year.”

The positive sales to date will provide hope that the second half of the year could see the local social scene slowly nursed back to health – with several country shows also expected to go ahead this summer following an unwanted three-year fallow period.

Québécois group Le Vent Du Nord.
Québécois group Le Vent Du Nord.

Mhari said many of the festival concerts “literally just have a handful of tickets left, but it’s not too late to snap up tickets for concerts staged in the larger venues”.

Some availability remains for the Sunday night foys which this year will showcase 10 visiting acts, while there is also space for a star-studded Friday night at Clickimin featuring a veritable smorgasbord of talent: Grammy-nominated bluegrass outfit Della Mae, multiple award-winning Quebec five-piece Le Vent Du Nord, Irish songstress Heidi Talbot and Shetland’s own powerhouse duo Ross & Ryan Couper.

Mhari said the big Saturday night concert at Clickimin was “absolutely flying” and so far organisers’ instinct to move the family-friendly “peerie spang” standing gig to the larger leisure centre venue was “proving to be absolutely correct”.

“As well as increasing capacity to better meet demand, it also offers a much bigger dance floor for families and our younger music fans to spread out over.”