16 Jan - 2 Feb 2025

Celtic Connections announces an array of new acts for the 2023 line-up

Celtic Connections, the home of world-class music and one-off collaborations, has announced a host of new acts to be added to the dynamic bill for its celebratory 30th edition this January. The internationally renowned event will mark its 30th festival with an ambitious and eclectic programme of music that will be showcased between Thursday 19th January – Sunday 5th February 2023.

Thousands of musicians will perform at venues across the city over the course of the 18-day event, with concerts and performances spanning traditional folk, roots, Americana, jazz, soul and world music. 

Post-punk indie rockers The Twilight Sad are back after having to cancel their performance at last year’s festival. Famed for their notoriously loud live performances, the band will bring a very special and intimate show to Celtic Connections, featuring stripped-back songs from across their critically acclaimed body of work. 

Glasgow’s southside venue Tramway will host two very special performances across the last weekend of the festival. Genre-defying Scottish composer and performer Anna Meredith will bring her acoustic and electro performance to Celtic Connections 2023 on the final Friday, straddling the different worlds of contemporary classical, art pop, techno, large-scale installations, and experimental rock. The penultimate night will welcome Malian singer and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré to the Tramway stage to present his new album Ali, described by Elton John as “one of the albums of the year.” 

Gaelic supergroup Dàimh will also set the Celtic Connections stage ablaze this January. Regarded as giants of the bagpipes and fiddle, Angus Mackenzie and Gabe McVarish lead the melodic powerhouse, with fellow founder member Ross Martin underpinning the groove on guitar. The band are joined by ’new guy‘ Murdo “Yogi” Cameron on mandola and accordion to complete the instrumental line up. Joining them on vocals is the Gaelic firmament’s rising star, Ellen MacDonald.

Joining Dàimh on this bill will be Irish singer-songwriter Karan Casey who has been blazing a trail for over 25 years. A lover of ballads, love songs and searing versions of social justice songs, as well as a great storyteller, Karan has toured the world connecting with her audience through Ireland’s past, while crucially repositioning women and songs in a universal and a modern setting.

Award-winning folk band CARA will celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band with a special anniversary line up, including Jeana Leslie (FARA), winner of the 2010 World Bodhrán Championship, Aimee Farrell-Courtney, and Steffen Gabriel (Northern Light). 

Sam Kelly & the Lost Boys will also take to the Celtic Connections stage as part of its 30th edition. The brainchild of BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Sam Kelly, The Lost Boys band has gained a reputation as one of the best live acts in the UK, with the virtuosic talents of Jamie Francis (banjo), Graham Coe (cello), Toby Shaer (whistles/fiddle), Archie Moss (melodeon) and Evan Carson (drums) showcasing an eclectic and innovative reworking of traditional songs and tunes from England, Scotland, Ireland and the USA. 

Former BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year Claire Hastings will perform her varied repertoire of traditional, contemporary and original songs, with the accompaniment of her full band.  

The Friel Sisters will bring their traditional Irish music and song to the festival, while Shetland fiddle player Ross Couper will make his return to Celtic Connections, this time with his own band. Joining him is BBC Radio Scotland’s Traditional Musician of the Year 2021, Michael Biggins and drumming legend Paul Jennings. This will be the first outing of The Ross Couper Band and it’ll be a chance to hear some material from his greatly received Celtic Connections New Voices commission last year, alongside some new material. 

Rokia Koné, aka the Rose of Bamako, visits Celtic Connections for the first UK live performance of her debut album Bamanan, a collaboration with Irish-born, California-based rock producer Jacknife Lee (U2, R.E.M, Snow Patrol, The Killers)

Rokia’s voice soars – pure, clear and true — above bass and synths, traditional percussion and infectious Mande guitar grooves. A stop-you-in-your-tracks voice instantly familiar to anyone in Mali, West Africa – and previously a core member of supergroup Les Amazones d'Afrique - her captivating performances run the gamut of emotion from joy to despair and fury to tenderness, wielding her astounding voice with grace and power. Jacknife Lee has become one of the most sought after and highly influential producers, having worked with some of the most influential artists on both sides of the Atlantic including Taylor Swift, U2, R.E.M, Snow Patrol & The Killers. Working together across three continents on Bamanan, Rokia and Jacknife have reimagined the Malian sound in ways leftfield and groundbreaking.

Marking 100 years since James Scott Skinner recorded ‘The Strathspey King’, Alice Allen (cello) and Patsy Reid (fiddle) will celebrate this milestone at next year’s festival by releasing their own take on his last, iconic recording from London, 1922.

Patsy and Alice both grew up steeped in the Northeast fiddle tradition, becoming effortlessly fluent in their native strathspeys, reels and airs, whilst simultaneously pursuing a hybrid musical education, achieving much sought-after string technique (that Skinner himself flaunted) whilst remaining true to their respective roots. Together, Alice and Patsy breathe new life into these wonderful tunes, and it is hoped their recording may be enjoyed by Scottish music lovers for another century.

Cottiers Theatre will be the venue for a unique Celtic Connections show entitled When Mountains Meet / Jub Milain Pahaar: A musical adventure from Scotland to Pakistan. The performance will showcase a unique musical journey with Scottish and South Asian influenced music and storytelling, alongside striking visual images. Composed and musically directed by Scottish violinist Anne Wood (The Raincoats, Deacon Blue, Michael Marra) the show will navigate along her unforgettable voyage from the Scottish Highlands to the Himalayas, in search of her Pakistani father whom she had never met.  

Scottish folk quartet Westward the Light will bring their powerful and dynamic music to the 2023 edition of the festival. Comprising musicians Charlie Grey, Sally Simpson, Owen Sinclair and Joseph Peach, they will also be joined by Scottish Uilleann piper, flautist and composer, Calum Stewart and percussive Scottish step dancer, Sophie Stephenson

Other names added to the 30th edition of Celtic Connections include, Adam Sutherland, Ainsley Hamill, Alastair McDonaldAmythyst Kiah, Archie Fisher, AssyntCLR Theory, Early James, Firelight Trio, Fraser Bruce, Gavin Paterson, Grainne Brady, Hamish Napier, Ian Bruce, Madison Violet, Malcolm MacWatt, Nae Plans, Pete ClarkRon Jappy, Scott Wood Band, Seckou Keita, Session A9, Staran, Sylvia Barnes, Terra Kin, The Coaltown Daisies, The Routes Quartet, The Special Consensus, Tim Baker and William Prince.

Visit the what's on page to see the full line-up.