September may mark the traditional end of the Scottish summer, but a new Outer Hebrides festival planned for the month means that it’s never too late to plan an island break.
Hebtember is a programme of authentic island entertainment, exhibitions, attractions and events.
Organisers have secured headline performances from top Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis and favourite Scots funnyman Fred MacAulay – both of whom will perform at venues across the archipelago as part of the festival programme.
Ms Foulis will perform the haunting Gaelic songs that saw her selected to be the voice of the north; singing the theme tune to the Oscar-winning Disney blockbuster Brave, while BBC Scotland broadcaster and seasoned stand-up MacAulay will treat audiences to a performance of his Edinburgh Fringe-born The Frederendum tour, taking a timely and topical look at the issues affecting Scotland this September.
Hebtember’14 will combine truly traditional Outer Hebrides pastimes and pursuits with the very best in contemporary arts and entertainment, with more than 100 festival events on offer in venues from the Butt of Lewis in the north to Barra in the south meaning no island visitors will miss out on any of the action.
Visitors can join members of island crofting communities for one of a series of eight Celtic ceilidhs, where they will be invited to don their best Harris Tweed outfits (there are prizes for the best outfits) and take part in this island tradition of 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 – helping them to ceilidh with confidence like an authentic islander.
There art and craft exhibitions and shopping opportunities on offer at over 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.
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.”