Authentic experiences and big names are lined up for a new Hebridean September festival.
Traditionally, September has signalled the end of the holiday season, but a new Outer Hebrides festival – Hebtember – aims to change that.
Tourism bosses in the islands are encouraging visitors to consider a visit this September and to sweeten the deal are offering a programme of island entertainment, exhibitions, attractions and events – as well as signing up some exciting household names as Hebtember headliners.
The programme for Hebtember’14 features more than 100 events in venues from the Butt of Lewis in the north to Barra in the south, meaning no island visitors will miss out.
Visitors can join members of island crofting communities for one of a series of eight Celtic ceilidhs, at which they will be invited to don their best Harris Tweed outfits (there are prizes for the best ones) and take part in song, dance and celebration.
The ceilidhs will feature performances from acclaimed Gaelic singers and top local bands, with pre-event workshops on offer to allow the uninitiated the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the traditional steps and calls in advance of the dance.
Art and craft exhibitions and shopping opportunities will be on offer at more than 80 gallery and retail spaces, 14 museums and five markets across the islands, including a specially created showcase at Uist Wool’s Scotvein spinning mill, exploring the relationship between island makers and locally sourced materials, complete with demonstrations and onsite installations.
And to top it all off, Hebtember organisers have secured headline performances from top Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis and favourite Scots funnyman Fred MacAulay.
Ian Fordham, of the Outer Hebrides Tourism Industry Association, said: “We’re excited to be launching this first Hebtember programme as we know it will really enrich the experience of visitors to the Outer Hebrides in September.
“Choosing a break outwith the traditional rush period for the area means visitors will have a greater choice of accommodation and more-flexible travel options.
“The welcome on the islands for September visitors will be just as warm and, as well as being able to access all the same island facilities as those who come in the height of summer, visitors will also be able to benefit from an exciting festival programme ranging from arts and film to literature, lectures and live music, put together purely to enhance their enjoyment and experience of our islands.
“Hebtember’14 is sure to be a memorable month, combining the excitement of big-name performers with intimate, authentic and inimitable island experiences.”
The programme runs throughout September.
Full details at www.hebtember.co.uk