16 Jan - 2 Feb 2025

World-renowned winter festival Celtic Connections opens

Europe’s premier folk, roots and world music festival Celtic Connections opens in Glasgow today, 18 January, for what will be one of its biggest-ever capacity programmes.

Running until 4 February, the renowned 18-day event kickstarts Scotland’s annual cultural calendar and showcases Glasgow’s UNESCO City of Music status and role as the country’s cultural powerhouse. The festival will welcome celebrated artists from around the world for an inimitable celebration of cultural exchange and musical innovation.

Delivered by Glasgow Life as part of the city’s annual cultural events programme, Celtic Connections attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees, and the contribution the festival makes to Scotland’s cultural landscape and international reputation, as well as Glasgow’s visitor economy, cannot be understated.

Over the course of the next two weeks, 1200 artists will perform at over 300 events, lighting up 25 venues across the city with world-class performances and exclusive collaborations for what is the biggest winter music festival of its kind in Europe.

Featuring a programme which famously expands year on year, the festival will cover everything from trad, folk, roots, Americana and jazz to soul, rock, orchestral, experimental and world music.

With a number of shows already sold out, and an anticipated 110,000 attendees expected to make their way to Glasgow for Celtic Connections 2024, music lovers are being encouraged not to delay in booking tickets so they don’t miss the chance to experience some unforgettable live performances.

Kicking things off in spectacular style is tonight’s sold-out Opening Concert which is staging the European premiere of ATTENTION! The remarkable new symphonic work from American Grammy winner Chris Thile – referred to by Billboard Magazine as “the best mandolin player in the world” – will also see the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra performing, and guests including festival favourites Rachel Sermanni, Dreamers’ Circus, and Sarah Jarosz.

In addition to shining the spotlight on a wealth of established and emerging talent from Scotland, Ireland and throughout the UK, this year's festival includes an array of acclaimed international artists and acts from almost every corner of the globe. 

The international partner for this year’s Showcase Scotland programme – which encourages creative collaborations – is Norway. The Scandinavian talent represented includes Tromsø-born violinist, singer and composer Julie Alapnes, Slovakian-Norwegian orchestra Angrusori, Norwegian traditional trios Erlend Viken and Ævestaden, and Sámi band Gabba.

Donald Shaw, Creative Producer for Celtic Connections, said: “As the name affirms, this festival has always been about connecting people and nations, uniting them through a shared love and appreciation of music and culture. This year's line-up, one of our biggest and most ambitious to date, is packed with amazing talent from across Scotland and all over the world, reflecting just how far the festival has come over the past three decades, and underlining our ambition to showcase music of all genres and backgrounds.

“I extend my heartfelt thanks to all those whose efforts have made this year's festival possible. Your support has allowed us to curate an exceptional event that represents the heart and soul of Celtic, folk, roots, jazz and world music.

“It’s incredibly exciting to see proceedings kick off today; I know our musicians and everyone involved in the festival is ready to make this one to remember. If there is still a show you would like to see, I would urge you to buy yourself a ticket – you most certainly will not regret it.”

Glasgow Life Chair, Bailie Annette Christie, said: “Audiences from near and far really are spoiled for choice by this year’s wonderfully expansive Celtic Connections programme which features a wide range of musical genres and an incredible line-up of home-grown and international artists.

“Shining the spotlight on Glasgow’s global status as a UNESCO City of Music, and the city’s richly deserved reputation as a superb destination for events and entertainment, Celtic Connections is renowned for showcasing outstanding established and emerging talent. The fact that the festival attracts such a high calibre of acts is testament to how well-regarded it is by musicians, not only in Scotland and Europe but worldwide, and how great the appeal of its diverse programme is to lovers of live music.

“As an annual highlight of Glasgow’s rich cultural programme, which attracts thousands of visitors and enriches the lives of so many, Celtic Connections is hugely important to the city, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming everyone attending this year’s festival.”

Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, Christina McKelvie MSP, said: “Celtic Connections is an annual high point in the calendar bringing artists and audiences from all corners of the globe together in Glasgow to celebrate the music of Scotland and our Celtic neighbours. This breadth of this year’s festival programme speaks to the huge wealth of talent our country boasts and the superb worldwide reputation of this iconic festival.

“The Scottish Government is proud to continue our support for Celtic Connections with £101,000 this year through our EXPO fund, which seeks to raise the international profile of Scottish artists and help maximise opportunities for them at home and abroad.”

Alan Morrison, Head of Music at Creative Scotland, said: “Celtic Connections is a world-class showcase for Scotland’s wonderful musical heritage and a celebration of the incredible wealth of our established and emerging talent. The festival provides a high-profile, prestigious platform for Scottish artists spanning traditional and contemporary music across all genres. This year’s programme also features what is arguably the festival’s strongest-ever international line-up, enabling creative collaborations from so many different countries and cultures.

“Every day boasts major headline shows and unforgettable intimate performances, as well as workshop sessions that encourage people to try out instruments and schools concerts that will inspire the artists and audiences of the future. With so many ways to connect to the music on offer, Celtic Connections 2024 promises something for everyone.”

Celtic Connections began in 1994 when it offered 66 events at one venue. It has since grown more adventurous, experimental and diverse each year, with an unwavering ambition to showcase the very best traditional folk, roots, Americana, jazz, soul, indie and world music and nurture unique local, national and international cultural partnerships.

For the full news release on the opening of Celtic Connections 2024, visit our Press Releases page.

For details of all of the events included in the festival programme, and to book tickets, visit our what's on page.