Celtic Connections: 2018 programme unveiled

Celtic Connections returns for its 25th anniversary edition with over 300 events in January and February 2018

Preview by The Skinny | 24 Oct 2017

The centrepiece of this year's Celtic Connections programme is a 20th anniversary celebration of the late Martyn Bennett's second album Bothy Culture. The huge show at the SSE Hydro on 27 January will see the 80-piece GRIT Orchestra perform the record with a special appearance from stunt cycling phenomenon Danny MacAskill, and support from Skye-based trad/electro crossover act Niteworks. 

Elsewhere, the Roaming Roots Revue – featuring musicians such as Natalie Prass, Nerina Pallot and Pictish Trail – break with their usual tradition and dedicate their entire Celtic Connections show to the late, great Tom Petty (27 Jan, Royal Concert Hall), and across the festival programme there's a huge mix of styles on display from the staunchly traditional to acts who blend myriad influences and styles together in their sound.

Launching the 2018 programme, Celtic Connections artistic director Donald Shaw praised the ways in which trad music has stepped outside its traditional bounds over the festival's quarter-century history. Shaw says: "Since the inception of Celtic Connections in 1994 the Scottish music scene has developed and diversified hugely.

"When the festival began there was still significant compartmentalisation of genres, which although has its place at times, has become less prevalent over the years. The influence and inspiration that the traditional music scene has had across the whole musical landscape in Scotland and worldwide has helped to make the journey of Celtic Connections all the more adventurous and exciting."

Celtic Connections 2018 runs from 18 Jan to 4 Feb, and tickets go on sale on 25 Oct – we've picked out a few of the shows we're most looking forward to; check them out below.

Celtic Connections 2018: Our highlights

Broken Records and Special Guests
The Edinburgh folk-rock collective celebrated their own milestone recently, with a tenth anniversary show in the capital last Christmas. They play the Hug & Pint at Celtic Connections, and bandleader Jamie Sutherland joins Siobhan Wilson for her show at Mackintosh Church on 3 Feb. 18 Jan, 8pm, The Hug & Pint, £11

This is the Kit with Last Horizons
Bristol/Paris-based songwriter Kate Stables' latest album as This is the Kit was an intriguing blend of styles and sounds pulled together by PJ Harvey producer John Parish. Hear tracks from Moonshine Freeze under the giant disco ball at the ABC. 19 Jan, 7.30pm, O2 ABC, £16

Jupiter & Okwess and Les Triaboliques
Kinshasa pioneers Jupiter & Okwess are a powerful force, driven by a desire to reactivate and reinvigorate the forgotten rhythms and melodies of Congo. Jupiter Bokondji shared some of his musical influences with us earlier this year – check out his playlist here20 Jan, 7.30pm, Drygate, £16

SOUNDING: Modern Studies & Lomond Campbell with The Pumpkinseeds Chamber Orchestra
Two of Scotland’s most critically acclaimed new acts, Modern Studies and Lomond Campbell present their unique collaboration which premiered at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe. Their work is further enhanced by intricate arrangements for the renowned Pumpkinseeds strings, brass and voices – not to be missed. 21 Jan, 8pm, Saint Luke's, £14

Start to End
The classic covers specialists are at it again, and for Celtic Connections the Start to End crew (featuring members of Pronto Mama and Admiral Fallow) are taking on not one but two classic albums. They play Joni Mitchell's 1974 classic Court and Spark on Mon 22 Jan, and follow it the next night with a run through of Solid Air by pioneering singer-songwriter John Martyn. 22 & 23 Jan, 8.30pm, Hug & Pint, £11

Hannah Peel 
Peel's latest album Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia is a tale of one person's journey to outer space, with each piece composed using both analogue synthesizers and a full, traditional 29-piece colliery brass band. The results are extraordinary, as, we suspect, will be this live show which sees Peel joined by the Tubular Brass ensemble. 27 Jan, 8pm, Old Fruitmarket, £16

Marnie and Special Guests
Ladytron vocalist Helen Marnie's second solo record acts as a showcase for song craft artfully attuned to the dancefloor, so come prepared to shuffle as Marnie plays tracks from Strange Words and Weird Wars. 27 Jan, 8pm, Hug & Pint, £11 

Isle of Eigg 20th Anniversary Celebration
Another anniversary to celebrate, with the two-decade independence of the Hebridean isle marked at this Celtic Connections show. This is a reprise of the knees-up that took place on the island in the summer, featuring a host of locally-connected acts ranging from the cosmic indie of Lost Map label boss Pictish Trail to local metalheads Massacre Cave. 28 Jan, 7.30pm, Drygate, £15

Declan Welsh and Friends
A social firebrand who's been tearing it up at venues across Scotland with his band The Decadent West, Welsh hosts an evening at Celtic Connections. 1 Feb, 8pm, Hug & Pint, £11

Out Lines and Hamish Hawk
Kathryn Joseph, Marcus Mackay and The Twilight Sad vocalist James Graham's collaboration has been one of the most talked-about in Scottish music ahead of the release of their debut album, and this is a rare chance to catch the atmospheric project in the flesh. 2 Feb, 7.30pm, Saint Luke’s, £15

Siobhan Wilson Band with the Demi Octet and Jamie Sutherland
Elgin-born singer-songwriter Siobhan Wilson's new album There Are No Saints is a sparse, tender record tying English indie-folk with European classical music to spellbinding effect. It's a sound that should be perfectly suited to the cerebral surroundings of the Mackintosh Church. 3 Feb, 7.30pm, Mackintosh Church, £15