20th Hebridean Celtic Festival, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides of Scotland, 15 – 18 July 2015.
The cream of international folk and Celtic music have heaped praise on a Scots island music festival as it celebrated its 20th year by hosting its biggest number of live performances ever.
Award-winning artists who took part in this year's Hebridean Celtic Festival hailed it a huge success after bosses laid on new venues and returned to its roots for the showpiece event.
The performers joined fans in taking to social media to praise HebCelt after organisers managed to overcome storm forecasts which badly affected other weekend events.
This year's line-up included artists who took part in the original HebCelt, others who have found worldwide acclaim after making their debut at the Stornoway-based festival, including fiddler Alasdair White, and other local talent including acclaimed singer/songwriter Iain Morrison.
This year's celebration also helped to showcase local island food, drink and produce, continued its promotion of Gaelic, strengthened its links with tourism operators and businesses and further boosted its green credentials through an innovative Ecocups initiative.
The festival presented its biggest and most diverse programme to date with more than 50 hours of music and arts events staged in the main arena in the grounds of Lews Castle, an Lanntair arts centre in the town centre and other venues in rural areas.
The Caladh Hotel also staged its first series of booked out Late Sessions, compered by Celtic Connections stalwart Findlay Napier, to expand the range of experience on offer to festival-goers across the town.
Audiences included visitors travelling from throughout the UK and Europe as well from the US, Australia, Japan, Canada, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – giving the island another huge economic boost during times of continued austerity across the UK.
Bands and artists lined up to thank organisers for laying on what many of them say has been among their best festival experiences to date.
Shooglenifty, who helped kick off the first HebCelt 20 years ago, played both the Island Stage and closed this year's Festival Club at an Lanntair to great acclaim, showcasing their new album The Untied Knot. Taking to Twitter afterwards, they said: "Thanks to everyone at HebCelt festival for a great weekend of gigs and looking after us so well! If you haven't been yet, get yer tickets booked for next year! Cheers!"
The Afro Celt Sound System turned to Facebook to thank the thousands of fans who turned out to watch their spectacular set, and raved: "Hugely enjoyable to give the closing performance last night - thanks to all who were there for a great response. We love visiting Stornoway for this!"
Salsa Celtica, who have just been nominated for the Songlines 'Cross Cultural Collaboration Award' wrote on their official facebook page: "Thank you Hebridean Celtic Festival!!!!! Great to be back on Isle of Lewis after all these years, playing an island festival on the west coast of Scotland is such a pleasure. Yes!!!!!"
Treacherous Orchestra, nominated as having this year's Scottish Album of the Year nominated for Grind, said in a Tweet after their packed out main stage: "Thanks for having us @HebCelt! You're all great!"
Award winning Mànran, who will join the legendary Donnie Munro and his band at the world famous Barrowlands in Glasgow on December 5, showed their affection for the festival too, Tweeting: "Thank you @HebCelt! You've been special as always!"
HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: "The 20th festival was a real milestone for us. To have continually staged an event like this in our relatively remote part of the world for two decades, against a backdrop of challenging economic conditions, is a huge achievement."
"We have seen HebCelt grow from a small local, festival attracting 1,000 people, into an international festival which attracts over 50 per cent of our audience from off-island, many coming from all parts of the world. We are still very rooted in our community and we are grateful for our loyal local following."
She also paid tribute to the sponsors, supporters and volunteers who contribute time and resources to help sustain HebCelt and to help ensure it can continue to attract quality artists despite its location.
"The festival is such a positive time of year, all look forward to it and to seeing friends and family travel home for it. The economic benefits are very much justified so we will be working hard in the coming months to build the funding case as early as possible. That way we can continue to stage a diverse and appealing programme for our local and visiting followers and ensure HebCelt continues as a ground-breaking event."
"We were delighted with our line-up this year. We have never had such positive feedback about the programme and we are proud of the fact that, as well as a range of top International acts, a feature of HebCelt has always been to give fans the opportunity to be amazed by artists they have never seen before and who would otherwise be unable to perform in the Outer Hebrides," she said.
"We are now looking forward to our coming of age 21st party next year and welcoming friends old and new back to the island."
Photo Credits: (1) HebCelt logo, (2) Shooglenifty, (3) Afro Celt Sound System, (4) Treacherous Orchestra, (5) Mànran (by HebCelt).