Summer in Scotland couldn't have been better this year with the outstanding Largs Viking Festival where I did some readings and fun activities for my children's book ‘Vikings and Skylarks on Cumbrae'.
The launch at the Garrison in Millport was so special with a flurry of friends and family dropping in and then there was the Bearsden Writing Festival at Kilmardinny House with special guest Sally Magnusson.
But perhaps the highlight was the Belladrum Festival in Inverness.
This Family Friendly Musical Festival in the Highlands is one of Scotland's best kept secrets. With at least 5 main stages and umpteen smaller venues, its wide appeal means that every age and musical taste is catered for, including rock, pop, disco, Celtic, trad, reggae and jazz. This year, Torridon rubbed shoulders with Emily Sandé; Siobhan Miller warmed up before Van Morrison. Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 (Peace Love and Mustard!) applied some heat and audience collaboration before the world-class performance of Nile Rogers and Chic. It helped that the weather was warm and hazy, and as the sun set around 10 o’clock, the northern skies stayed alight long, long into the night.
We had booked a pine lodge about a five-minute drive from the Belladrum Estate. This meant we couldn’t over-indulge in alcohol, but this wasn’t too much of a sacrifice. Instead, we treated ourselves to the luxury of the VIP Club Clan Bella area where fresh coffees were complimentary; daily newspapers available and leather sofas and deckchairs graced the open-air awning areas. The toilets were as white and bright as a private clinic. We ate well too from the wide variety of catering stalls. Our favourite was the Red Shank serving delicious, fresh fish dishes such as scallops with black pudding in a bap or beer battered haddock in a wrap. In the evenings the queues drew longer at the food and drink stalls. There was a last-minute plea to social media for more workers. Like everywhere this summer, Belladrum struggled for staff.
But that didn’t put the crowds off dancing, singing, chanting, Highland-flinging to every band that performed. Girls in long dresses with flowers in their hair provided a Woodstock vibe, magical dragons bopped with the adolescent boys and grannies and grandads swayed in a midsummer’s daydream, reminiscing of the halcyon days of the sixties and seventies.
It wasn’t just the headline acts that had an impact. I noticed When watching bands live, and not through the accustomed TV camera lens, just how much the performance is a team effort. The backing singers, drummers, pipers and guitarists, saxophonists and flautists, all contributed so much to making it a cohesive festival of music.
Emily Sandé’s backing singers were soulfully superb. The Fratelli’s three girl backing group, the Wild Tonics, attired in dinner jackets and bow ties, wowed the crowds with “Yes Sir, I can Boogie”, and the stunning girls from Chic, clad in silky, sophisticated dresses, more in keeping with Studio 54 in New York, than a country estate in Inverness, smoothed and curved every sharp edge of Nile’s guitar. As the crowds surged and thronged, we were left in no doubt, that ‘Belladrum can Boogie.’ And we’ll be back next year.
3 responses to “Belladrum! Inverness! Boogie!”
Thanks for your blog, nice to read. Do not stop.
Thank you Mark for reading my blog on Belladrum and summer festivals in Scotland. There’s no place like it.
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