This year looks set to be a golden year for Scottish festivals, all the major players are back with a 2019 instalment (update: except Electric Fields) and most can make a strong claim to have their best lineups yet. Whether you’re a true city slicker, a wilderness explorer or looking for something traditional and community-based, we can safely say that whatever you’re into, there will be a festival for you. Take your pick, there’s everything from celtic and world music in the wilderness to the cutting edge of modern pop, big-name acts to the tiniest DIY bands, good time funk to the deepest dub. It’s only March but we can’t wait for summer.
Stag and Dagger 5th May Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow
Ah, the return of the annual day-long stagger around Sauchiehall Street way. Scotland’s biggest new music showcase is back this May Bank Holiday weekend with Honeyblood, Rat Boy, Dream Wife, Goat Girl, The Ninth Wave and Pip Blom topping the bill. With early May, you can never be sure if it will teem rain from the heavens or if you’ll end up melting in shock spring sunshine. Who cares, it’s an indoor festival, you’ll be inside most of the day anyway
As always, it’s a great opportunity to broaden your musical horizons: Let’s Eat Grandma, Man of Moon, Royal Blood, Ezra Furman, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Mac DeMarco, White Denim, Warpaint, Courtney Barnett and Fat White Family have all played Stag & Dagger in previous years. Basically what we’re saying is there’s a more than decent chance you’ll find your future favourite band somewhere in this year’s lineup.
It runs from 2 pm until 3 am. Clocking in at 13 hours of new music, it’s a long day, so if you’re wanting to make the most of it you’re going to want to pace yourself. Your ticket gets you a wristband, giving you access to see over 50 of the best up and coming artists from Scotland and beyond.
Travel – All the venues are in Glasgow City Centre – you know how to get there right?
Kelburn Garden Party 5th – 8th July Kelburn Castle, Fairlie, North Ayrshire
Kelburn Garden Party is celebrating its 10th anniversary and following on from its 3,000 ticket sell out in 2018, they’re back with an awesome line up and all the usual spontaneity, creativity, colour and madness in one of the most magical festival settings in the country; building on its reputation as one of Scotland’s favourite boutique music festivals.
The first wave of this year’s acts has been announced with Leftfield and LTJ Bukem heading things up and a wildly varied undercard including Scottish favourites Bossy Love, Tom McGuire and The Brassholes, The Girobabies and Shooglenifty. Expect dub, funk, world, breaks, RnB pop and loads more besides.
Of course, the spectacular setting will, as always, take things up that extra notch; where else can you enjoy eclectic beats next to a 17th-century castle and 20ft waterfall?
Adult camping weekend tickets start at £128.50 – 3-month payment scheme available
The Kelburn Bus runs from Edinburgh and Glasgow to the festival on the Friday and back on the Sunday/Monday. Full details on their website.
Alternatively, make your way to Largs Train Station, which is 50 minutes from Glasgow and under 2 hours from Edinburgh. The festival site is 5 a minute taxi ride from the station or get The Kelburn Shuttle Bus for £1 each way (bring change).
Knockengorroch 23rd-26th May Carsphairn, Dumfries and Galloway, DG7 3TJ
Knockengorroch does things a bit differently. Who’s up for a world ceilidh in the hills? Officially the longest running camping music festival in Scotland, they’re yet again sticking to their roots: presenting some of the best music from around the globe alongside Scottish trad.
This year’s main headliner is poet, author and political activist Benjamin Zephaniah who’ll be bringing dub-reggae juggernaut sounds and delivering his message of compassion and love with his band The Revolutionary Minds.
Other highlights include Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers, Scotland’s own authentic taiko drumming outfit complete with after dark UV show, Glasgow dub heavyweights Mungo’s Hi-Fi (they’re bringing their complete system) and voodoo blues rock priestess, Moonlight Benjamin.
It’s not just about the music, the weekend will also feature comedy and theatre shows, arts, crafts, nature and heritage workshops. It’s one of the most family-friendly festivals on the circuit, open to all ages with a dedicated quiet family camping area plus a children’s tent and procession. Soothe your weary soul with real ales, good food and a visit to their healing area.
Adult camping weekend tickets start at £105 – monthly payment scheme available.
The Knock Bus runs from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Carlisle And Dumfries to the festival on Thursday and Friday, returning on the Monday. Full details on the festival website.
Alternatively, the best route from the central belt is to get to Glasgow and from there travel to Ayr by bus or train, then take a bus to Dalmellington where a local taxi firm will be providing a shuttle service to Knockengorroch.
Hebcelt 17th-20th July Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
Picture a festival for all ages on a rugged Scottish island populated by warm friendly locals and abundant wildlife, peppered with standing stones, sandy dune-backed beaches and ancient churches and you’ll pretty much have Hebcelt.
Now in its 24th year, Hebcelt is an old hand at this festival malarkey. This year they have lined up multi-million selling KT Tunstall, The Shires, Newton Faulkner, Tide Lines and loads more besides. Their focus is still firmly with celtic, traditional and contemporary music with Gaelic culture at its heart. Mixing local, national and international acts; established and emerging talent, Stornoway will be buzzing with visitors and locals alike.
Demand for hotels and b&b’s on the island is high during the festival, you’re best to get your digs booked up soon. There’s no camping on the festival site but there are a few good quality campsites with shower facilities around the island – Laxdale Holiday Park is the one nearest to the festival site.
A weekend arena ticket is £95, this allows entry to all arena shows, Thursday till Saturday. It’s a multi-venue festival and some events outside the main arena are ticketed separately. Check the festival website for more details.
From the central belt, take the train to Inverness and from there catch the Citylink bus to Ullapool. CalMac run a direct car and passenger ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway. It is essential that all travellers including foot passengers pre-book their ferry travel with CalMac.
Burnsfest! 4th May Rozelle Park, Alloway, Ayr
Celebrate the 260th Year since Rabbie Burns’ birth in Ayrshire’s pretty Rozelle Park complete with live music, Burns Wine Bar and a cracking Beer Garden. They’ve also A-Coo-Stick Tipi (acoustic gigs in a tipi tent), The Mercat (Burns merchandise, retro gifts, crafts and more), Performance Pokey (storytelling, comedy, songs and Burns poetry recitals), Bairns Bunnet (children’s entertainment tent – featuring fun, interactive and educational games with Cassius Crab), a Burns Fair and more!
On the music side they’ve lined up some top quality music for your ears and feet: with the superb Tom McGuire and The Brassholes serving up top quality slabs of funk (pack your dancing shoes) and Glasgow’s The Pearlfishers bringing their smooth pop tunes to the party.
Free, no tickets required
The free Burnsfest Shuttle Bus will pick up and drop off regularly throughout the day of the festival from the front of Ayr Train Station and Blackburn Park ‘n’ Ride – 12:30 pm till 10.30pm
Doune The Rabbit Hole 19th-21st July Cardross Estate, Stirlingshire
DTRH consistently put together some of the best festival lineups in Scotland and this year is no different. Their focus is on celebrating the very best of Scotland’s independent/DIY arts scene alongside top-notch international guests. For 2019 they’ve put together a bill that puts many bigger festivals to shame with The Wailers, Battles, John Grant, Lee Scratch Perry, BEAK>, John Cooper Clarke, Shonen Knife, PAWS, Free Love and a tonne more besides.
Plus they’ve just added Sister Sledge, Blanck Mass, C Duncan, The Damned, Asian Dub Foundation, Hawkwind, Medicine Men, The Girobabies and a whole heap more.
When you’re needing a break from the party there’s also storytelling, slam poetry, yoga classes, art and craft workshops and (usually) friendly dogs to pat.
There’s an ethereal and magical quality to DTRH that’s hard to put your finger on. Maybe it’s camping amongst ancient oak trees and going for a morning swim in the river? Maybe it’s the bramble wine?
Adult camping tickets are currently £95 – 3-month payment plan available
The festival site is quite remote so unless you’re travelling by car you’re probably best getting one of the Doune The Rabbit Hole buses from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Stirling. The Stirling buses are timed to meet Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth trains. See the festival website for more details.
Peaceful and gentle by day while riotous at night, Eden is the perfect Ying and Yang festival. The main campsite is not for the faint-hearted. It’s full-on hedonistic fun and there’s no doubt it can take chunks off you but, if you have the energy, there’s nothing quite like it. This year they’ve Chinese Man, Irvine Welsh (DJ set), John Cooper Clarke, Optimo (Espacio), Trojan Sound System, Barely Legal and Auntie Flo providing the party tunes and This Is The Kit and (as always) Mr Motivator to ease the pain.
Adult camping tickets are currently £125.
Details on The Eden Bus will be announced on their website in the next month.
Alternatively, you can get the Stagecoach X74 bus from Glasgow or the 101 from Edinburgh. Once you get to the bus stop, wait for the Eden shuttle bus to take you down to the ticket office.