Top traditional musicians descend on Ullapool for weekend of tuition and performances

Next month some of Scotland’s top traditional musicians will descend on Ullapool for a weekend of Gaelic and Scots music tuition and performances as part of this year’s Adult Fèis Rois.

Fèis Rois nan Inbheach, (Adult Fèis) is run by Dingwall arts organisation, Fèis Rois, and celebrates Gaelic and Scots music with a weekend of workshops, concerts and sessions. The event is open to adult learners and runs from Friday 28th April to Monday 1st May, including three days of music tuition as well as a full Fringe programme.

This year sees the 33rd edition of the event with a tutor line-up including fiddle players Lauren MacColl, Anna Massie, Chloë Bryce, Charlie McKerron, Gordon Gunn and Amy Geddes, accordionists John Carmichael and Mairearad Green, wooden flute player James Duncan Mackenzie, Dave Milligan on piano, singer and clarsach player Corrina Hewat, Evanton-based clarsach player Cheyenne Brown, guitarists Innes Watson and Jenn Butterworth, mandolin player Laura-Beth Salter, piper Fin Moore, Eddie Seaman and Kim Richards on whistle, Lewis Gaelic singer, Mischa Macpherson and bodhran player Martin O’Neill.

As part of the Fringe programme, there will be several concerts taking place around Ullapool over the long weekend. On Friday 28th April, mandolin player and singer, Laura-Beth Salter and guitarist Jenn Butterworth will perform at The Ceilidh Place and on Saturday 29th April, The Macphail Centre will host a concert featuring well-known Ross-Shire fiddle player, singer and song writer, Olivia Ross who will perform music from her forthcoming debut album, Grace The Blue. During the day there will be a range of lunchtime recitals, which are also open to the public, from some of the tutors including Ullapool local musicians, Mairearad Green and Kim Richards, and piper, Fin Moore. There will also be a Gaelic conversation group from 4.30-5.30pm on the Saturday and Sunday, open to those who wish to use and practice their Gaelic in a friendly and informal setting in The Ceilidh Place Parlour Bar.

Fiona Dalgetty, Chief Executive of Fèis Rois, commented: “Fèis Rois nan Inbheach is one of our key annual events. Since the first event took place in 1991, the Adult Fèis has grown to attract an international audience as well as enjoying lots of local support. We have another stellar tutor line-up this year, featuring several musicians who started their musical journey as children on our youth programmes. We are looking forward to welcoming new faces as well as participants and tutors who have been coming to Fèis Rois nan Inbheach for many years.”

The full Fringe programme can be found on the Fèis Rois website, along with details of how to book a place on the tuition programme or purchase tickets for the Fringe events,


Edinburgh Tradfest’s 2023 Full Programme Announced

Today (Wed 15 March) Edinburgh Tradfest launched its 2023 programme of traditional live music, storytelling, dance, workshops, talks, ceilidhs, and special events taking place at various venues across Edinburgh. TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) and the Scottish Storytelling Centre are delighted to take part in this annual celebration, bringing folk art and culture to life this spring from 28 April – 8 May 2023.

At the Scottish Storytelling Centre, the festival kicks off with the return of dance festival Pomegranates – a weekend of dance, performance, and workshops run by the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland to celebrate International Dance Day (29 April); and the second North Atlantic Song Convention run by the Traditional Music Forum takes place, with delegates from around the world gathering in Edinburgh to celebrate and learn about our rich song traditions.

Daniel Abercrombie, Programme & Events Manager, Scottish Storytelling Centre:
Tradfest is a chance for us to celebrate a range of traditional arts through live performance and participation. The Storytelling Centre’s programme has themes of nature and the environment running through it with ceilidhs, long-form storytelling, dance and song events, sitting alongside Celtic opera, BSL digital storytelling and family events. Something for everyone this spring!

Week one of the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s programme is packed with fantastic events including a talk on naturalist Nan Shepherd (author of The Living Mountain) conducted by Erlend Clouston; a performance by the Scots Opera Project of the acclaimed The Seal-Woman written by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Granville Bantock in 1924; Shapeshifters which returns with more terrifying and tragic folktales from Scotland including the Seal Killer of Duncansby Head and Saba the deer mother told by storyteller Fiona Herbert with song, harp and fiddle from Emma Durkan; open-floor storytelling at the Waverley Bar with Ailsa Dixon; and for younger audiences, folklorist Allison Galbraith will be telling stories from her latest collection Funny Folk Tales for Children. Plus, to celebrate Deaf Awareness Week, Solar Bear will present a panel discussion and a series of new films created and developed over the last three years exploring deaf folklore, deaf identity and disability.

Week two of the Festival also offers a packed programme including spring ceilidhs at the Scottish Storytelling Centre; the traditional May Day March – Fighting Back Together (6 May) which travels down the Royal Mile culminating in a rally against unjust labour laws and the cost of living crisis at The Pleasance; a performance of the ancient and much-loved border ballad of Thomas the Rhymer narrated by Julia Munrow and with music by John Sampson; tales of bees, birds, and international stories performed by Susan Strauss (Oregon, USA) chosen from her book Tree with Golden Apples; the launch of Stuart McHardy’s new book The Nine Maidens: Priestesses of the Ancient World; and Donald Smith presenting his recently published Storm and Shore a bardsaga for our times, reflecting our need for contemporary solace and sanctuary close to nature.

Steve Byrne, Director of TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland): “TRACS is delighted to contribute a rich offering from across the traditional arts to this year’s Tradfest. The festival is a fantastic platform for singers, dancers, musicians and storytellers to follow in the great Edinburgh spring tradition of celebrating our traditional cultures both local and global.

For tickets and more information follow the links below:

Tradfest at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

Full Tradfest Programme


Portsoy Haal Music Festival Line Up Announced

📷 Tommy Sands Music

Folk At The Salmon Bothy has revealed the line up for the 2023 Haal music festival

Now in its 13th year, the Haal will take place from 2 – 4 June in Portsoy, bringing together renowned folk musicians and performers from across the globe.

Acts from Scotland, Ireland and the USA will take to various stages across the town to entertain during the weekend.

Headlining the event is The Sands Family from Northern Ireland. Irish songwriters, singers and musicians, Anne, and her brothers Tommy, Ben and Colum, have travelled the world performing as a group and individually. Tommy and his brothers will also lead a song writing workshop on Saturday 3 June, giving budding songwriters the opportunity to learn from the masters of music.

Karine Polwart, Scottish singer, songwriter, composer and essayist, and one of the top acts in the present Scottish folk scene, will headline the Saturday showcase concert.

On Sunday 4 June, a group of like-minded musicians will perform ‘Steele the Show’, featuring songs from the late Scottish singer-songwriter and instrumentalist, Davy Steele. Davy’s widow Patsy Seddon, his son Jamie, Karine Polwart, singer and harpist Mary Macmaster, and singer-songwriter and keyboard player Beth Malcolm, are just a few of the performers set to join together for this unique and unmissable tribute.

Also performing during the weekend will be Scots troubadour Jim Malcolm, drummer and percussionist Donald Hay, and American born singer songwriter Kathy Stewart, along with a host of others.

The Haal programme will also include a number of informal sessions and sing-arounds at various venues across the town.

The full programme will be available soon online at

The Haal line up was announced at the club’s recent Bothy Ballads and Burns event, held at Portsoy Bowling Club, and hosted by the Lennox Family, supported by Doug Hay, Bill Gray and Ron Gardner. The audience was regaled with songs and poems from the pen of Robbie Burns, as well as a selection of north east bothy songs, including The Hearst o’ Rettie and Drumdelgie.

Bob Philips, chairman of Folk At The Salmon Bothy, commented, “We are excited to be welcoming a number of high profile musicians and performers from across the folk scene to Portsoy for the 13th Haal, as the event continues to grow in popularity. We are especially delighted to welcome The Sands Family, it is fantastic they have agreed to support our wee festival. We are confident that once again the Haal will offer a rich and plentiful programme showcasing the best of the Scottish folk music, with something to delight all visitors.”

As a prelude to the Haal, the club will welcome Irish singer songwriter Tommy Sands to Portsoy on Saturday 25 March, where he will perform at the Salmon Bothy. Doors open 7.30pm, tickets £10 available at the door or in advance.

Tickets for all events are available from Bob Philips on 07968 872217 or [email protected]

Folk At The Salmon Bothy continue to meet on the third Friday of each month at the Salmon Bothy in Portsoy.  Doors open 7pm, entry is £4, tea and coffee provided. The next open mic event takes place on Friday 17 March, all welcome.


New Folk Tunes from 100 Women to be published by Faber Music in bumper collection

8th March 2023

This International Women’s Day, Faber Music is proud to announce a tune book like no other. ‘Folk Tunes from the Women’, to be released on 5 May 2023, is a bumper book of over 150 contemporary tunes from 100 female composers from Britain and Ireland, brought together all from different areas, traditions and backgrounds. Available to pre-order now from and other retailers.

‘Folk Tunes from the Women’ has been curated by Northumbrian piper and fiddle player Kathryn Tickell, OBE. After a request in 2021 from a friend who was looking for female-composed material to teach to her fiddle group, Tickell realised that everything on her ‘possibles’ list was written by men. Having then contacted a few of her female tune-writing friends to ask if they knew of any collections of tunes by women composers, they all said “no… but there absolutely should be such a thing.”

And so the project was launched, Tickell put out the call, and the composers came in their droves. From successful professional musicians with many compositions to their name, to those who may have only written one tune. All these composers answered the call to submit material for ‘Folk Tunes from the Women’. They all felt passionately that there was a real need for the book to exist, not only to make their own tunes more visible and accessible, but also to make it easier to learn and champion tunes from other women tune-writers.

Featuring a wide selection of Jigs, Hornpipes, Reels, Airs, Marches, Polkas, Waltzes, Mazurkas, the book also includes many tunes which don’t fall into a natural category.

Curator Kathryn Tickell explains “Although this material is presented collectively, I hope people will get a sense of the women involved and the processes and motivations behind our music. Some of these tunes were written in the darkest depths of grief, others are expressions of pure joy. There are stress-relievers, protests, distractions, memorials and meditations. Many tunes were written in gratitude – for life, for health, for friends and family. Some are professional commissions; others were given freely as gifts. Some are for dancing, some for listening. They are for births, deaths and everything between and beyond.”

The tunes are presented as melody lines with chord symbols, to make it the most useful book for teachers and players alike.

Kathryn Tickell OBE, curator

Kathryn Tickell is a Northumbrian piper, fiddle player and composer whose music is inspired by the landscape and people of Northumberland. In 2009, she was presented with The Queen’s Medal for Music, awarded to those deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to British music and she was awarded an OBE in 2015. She has released many albums and has collaborated across many genres with musicians such as Sting, Evelyn Glennie, Andy Sheppard, Penguin Café Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia and The Chieftains.

The ‘Tunebook Team’

Amy Thatcher, Jo Freya (England), Mairearad Green, Anna Massie, Corrina Hewat (Scotland), Angharad Jenkins (Wales), Rebecca McCarthy Kent (Ireland)

The Composers

Adèle Commins, Ailie Robertson, Ali Jones, Alison Rowley, Amy Geddes, Amy Thatcher, Angharad Jenkins, Angharad Jones, Anna Massie, Anna-Wendy Stevenson, Annette Davies, Beth Salter, Bethan Rhiannon, Branwen Mai Roberts, Breesha Maddrell, Bryony Griffiths, Carolyn Francis, Catherine Geldard, Catherine Robson, Catrin Ashton, Catriona Macdonald, Cerys Hafana, Chloë Bryce, Christine Edwards, Claire Gullan, Cli Donnellan, Corrina Hewat, Delyth Jenkins, Éadaoin Ní Mhaicín, Eilidh Steel, Elsa Davies, Ernestine Healy, Fiona Driver, Grace Smith, Grainne Brady, Gwen Màiri, Harriet Power, Heather Woodbridge, Helen Bell, Helen Gentile, Helina Rees, Imogen Bose Ward, Inge Thomson, Isla Callister, Isla Ratcliff, Jane Harbour, Jess Arrowsmith, Jo Freya, Karen Gledhill, Karen Tweed, Karen Woods, Kate Strudwick, Kathryn Tickell, Kerry Russell, Kirstie McLanaghan, Laura Beth Salter, Laurel Swift, Lauren MacColl, Llio Rhydderch, Louise Mackenzie, Lucy Rivers, Maeve McCann, Maire Fielding, Mairead Casey, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Mairearad Green, Margaret Robertson, Margaret Watchorn, Mari Morgan, Marie Fielding, Marina Dodgson, Marit Fält, Martha Woods, Mary Macmaster, Mel Biggs, Mirain Angharad Owen, Niamh Ní Charra, Olivia Ross, Pam Bishop, Patsy Reid, Patsy Seddon, Rachael McShane, Rachel Cross, Rachel Newton, Róisín Ward Morrow, Rona Wilkie, Rowan Rheingans, Ruth Angell, Sarah Allen, Sarah McFadyen, Sarah Northcott, Sophy Ball, Stacey Blythe, Sue Harris, Susie Cochrane, Tamsin Elliott, Tina Jordan Rees, Valerie Bryan, Vicki Swan, Zoe Conway


Folk Tunes from the Women
Releases 5th May 2023
Pre-order now from Amazon


Edinburgh International Harp Festival: 7th – 11th April 2023

📷 Ruth Keggin & Rachel Hair – photo by Amore du Plessis

The Edinburgh International Harp Festival (EIHF) returns for its 42nd year. After two years online and a fully hybrid event in 2022, they are excited to announce to be back in person (with a few Zoom events) to new home, George Watson’s College.

With Scotland’s clarsach at its heart, the festival showcases all aspects of the harp with a host of concerts, courses and workshops in a welcoming and inclusive environment, cementing its reputation as the friendliest harp festival in the world. They are very grateful that once again they can be host to renowned musicians and participants from around the world, who will come together to entertain, inspire, educate and learn.


This year’s Festival will showcase an abundance of harp music from around the world demonstrating the versatility of this amazing instrument.

It is over ten years since they last welcomed renowned North American harpist Kim Robertson, who will be celebrating her Scots-Irish American heritage.
Appearing at the EIHF for the first time, DRÅM with Erik Ask-Upmark and Anna Rynefors hail from Sweden and will perform traditional music from Scandinavia with a fresh and unique approach, featuring not only harp, but also säckpipa and nyckelharpa.

Eva Curth from Germany will bring pedal harp and clarsach side by side, in a programme dedicated to the music of French composer Bernhard Andrès.
Renowned Breton harpist Clotilde Trouillaud has formed Lune Bleue Trio, combining harp, drums and electric guitar to perform arrangements in blues/jazz/rock style.


Another focus of the Festival will be the strong connections with other Celtic nations.

Straight from across the Irish Sea comes Michael Rooney, one of the foremost players of the traditional Irish harp and he will perform many of his well-known compositions.
Gwen Mairi, brought up in a Welsh speaking family in Scotland, presents music which is firmly rooted in the Welsh tradition, but combines Welsh and Scottish influences in a contemporary style.

Manx Gaelic singer Ruth Keggin and Scottish harpist Rachel Hair will celebrate the vibrancy and growth of the Manx Gaelic language and the connections between The Isle of Man and Scotland.


The EIHF proudly celebrates home-grown talent.

Scottish harpist Gillian Fleetwood and Ensemble will present Music from Hospitalfield House; a suite of music inspired by the recently restored Erard Grecian harp, which is over 200 years old and located at Abroath’s Hospitalfield House. Ailie Robertson was brought up in Edinburgh and is now based in Argyll. She will perform a selection of traditional tunes and her own compositions.

Glasgow based Neil Wood presents music on both gut and wire-strung harps, exploring ornamentation and texture from a range of places, periods and sources.
Heal and Harrow, Rachel Newton on harp and Lauren MacColl on fiddle, seek to pay a humanising tribute to those accused in the Scottish witch trials in the 16th and 17th century.


The EIHF has a history of providing a platform to the next generation of professional harpists.

Grace Stewart Skinner (awardee of the Hands Up For Trad ‘Inspiration Award’), was brought up playing harp in the Highlands and recently graduated from Edinburgh University in Celtic Studies.
The EIHF is also delighted to welcome Music Generation Ireland Collective, comprised of harp ensembles from Music Generation Laois, Louth, Mayo and Waterford and are led at the Festival by Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla.


Bringing harpers of all ages and experience together, the EIHF will celebrate and showcase the power and variety of harp ensembles in a concert that will feature three distinct groups.

Isobel Mieras will direct na Clàrsairean, the orchestra of the Edinburgh Branch of The Clarsach Society, to perform the new suite Changing Seasons.

The Power of Pedals, led by Eva Curth, will be comprised of students from her EIHF pedal harp course playing Elégie pour la mort d’un Berger by Bernard Andrès.
HARPA is a unique ensemble of seven harpists from all parts of the United States, who tour biennially.


The future of the harp lies in the youth and this year the EIHF will host 2 free to attend outreach projects for young people.

Our Beautiful Planet will see primary aged children attend workshops with renowned teachers Isobel Mieras and Elinor Evans before the festival, culminating in a free-to-attend performance on the festival opening day, also featuring Royal National Mod prize winner Cara Conway.
High school aged students will be given the opportunity to attend and be inspired at a workshop with respected Irish harper Michael Rooney, funded by Tasgadh, the small grants for Traditional Arts.


A core element of EIHF is the chance to learn and share skills and knowledge in a wide range of workshops and courses led by the EIHF international guest performers and teachers.

Workshops, 11 in total, will explore a variety of topics including music from the Isle of Man, Sweden, Ireland and Scotland, Jewish Music, various aspects of singing, Calm Your Nerves, Harp Maintenance, Live Looping and an opportunity to observe renowned harpist Eva Curth at work in a masterclass.

Courses, 39 in total, at every possible level, include Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Manx, Breton and Scandinavian music, various techniques incorporating ornamentation, accompaniment patterns, chords and wire harp, as well as singing and ensemble play. Taught by over 30 world-class and experienced tutors, courses include harp classes for adult and child beginners (with harps provided), come-and-try sessions on wire harp and Yoga. There will also be informal session to learn basic phrases in Gaelic.


Makers from all over the UK and beyond will be on hand at this vital element of the festival, displaying instruments ranging from faithful historical reproductions to the very latest developments in harp construction.


Isobel Mieras, Artistic Adviser to the EIHF and President of The Clarsach Society: “After many months of planning, our Festival Team is looking forward to welcoming friends old and new to Edinburgh in the Spring to share our programme of concerts, courses, workshops and much more with performers, teachers, harp makers and enthusiasts from far and near.”

Patsy Seddon, Artistic Adviser to the EIHF: “Having settled so comfortably into our new venue last year, I can’t wait to welcome more people this year to enjoy all the harping goodies we have planned from inspiring concerts to informal gatherings.”


Full program & box office at:


School of Dàimh: 17th – 19th March 2023


On the weekend of 17th – 19th March, Highland folk legends Dàimh will present a relaxed and informal atmosphere to learn, play and socialise with like-minded musicians and locals right here at Arisaig Hotel.

Workshops by day. Fast, slow and singing sessions by night. Food and accommodation available all under one roof. All levels and instruments are welcome!

Do you play an instrument but lack the opportunity or confidence to play with others?

Anybody ever found joining in on a high-octane pub session an intimidating experience? 

Interested in developing your existing skills and breaking through to that elusive next level?

Maybe you are more comfortable in a different style of music but would like to learn the mechanics and subtleties of a traditional session? 

Have you ever wanted to learn some Gaelic songs or sing the ones you know with some accompaniment or harmonies?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above then School of Dàimh presents the perfect opportunity to improve your session skills and repertoire with mixed instrument and singing workshops.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 01687 450210


Award-winning music group, The Kiltearn Fiddlers, return with new leader

Lauren MacColl to lead monthly sessions in Dingwall for young musicians in S1-6

28 February 2023, An award-winning music group, which started more than 30 years ago in Kiltearn Primary School, has been relaunched after a break due to Covid, with a former member now leading the group.

The Kiltearn Fiddlers was established by Alpha Munro as part of Fèis Rois’ weekly music classes. Alpha Munro worked tirelessly to provide young musicians from across the Highlands with high quality fiddle tuition and fantastic performance opportunities. The group performed throughout Scotland as well as travelling to Wales, Denmark and France to perform at festivals and some of the Highland’s top traditional musicians were involved as youngsters including Lauren MacColl and Graham Mackenzie.

Covid restrictions meant the group was no longer able to meet in person but Fèis Rois is delighted that The Kiltearn Fiddlers has now returned with a former member at the helm; Lauren MacColl. Lauren, originally from the Black Isle, is considered one of Scotland’s most expressive fiddle players and after studying music in Glasgow returned home to the Highlands where she draws much of her musical inspiration. A founder member of both chamber-folk quartet RANT and song-trio Salt House, Lauren’s recent multi-disciplinary project ‘Heal & Harrow’ with Rachel Newton launched in 2022 with a critically acclaimed album based on the Scottish Witch Trials, and the duo won the Composer of the Year category at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2022. Her 2020 album ‘Landskein’, her fourth under her own name, is almost entirely solo traditional airs recorded in Abriachan Hall in the Highlands.

Lauren was fiddle tutor for RCS (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) Junior Conservatoire for over a decade, and continues to teach her own students and community group. Her work as a session musician on viola and fiddle as seen her record for a wide variety of artists across the Scottish music scene including Julie Fowlis, Blue Rose Code, Ewan MacLennan and Siobhan Miller.  In 2019 she realised a book of her own tunes titled ‘To The North…’ and toured her Fèis Rois commissioned work ‘The Seer’ across major Scottish venues.

Lauren MacColl – photo by Elly Lucas

Lauren MacColl said: “The Kiltearn Fiddlers years gave me my first taste of arranging, recording and playing gigs with a group. It was a chance to meet with people my age who loved the same music as me, and exchange tunes I was learning at home. We had some brilliant experiences playing far and wide as a group, and Alpha Munro selflessly passed on so much energy and passion for music which was a huge influence on me. It is great to be back leading this new incarnation of the group, working with brilliant young musicians to share in the music we all love. Especially after the last few years, the need to be in the same space to play music together is even more important.”

The Kiltearn Fiddlers is open to young traditional musicians in S1-S6, and you don’t need to be a fiddle player to take part. With thanks to a generous donation to Fèis Rois from a private donor, the monthly sessions are completely free to attend and are aimed at intermediate and advanced players. It’s a great chance to learn new music, hone skills and meet new people. The workshops take place on the first Sunday of the month in Dingwall Community Centre and Lauren will be joined by multi-instrumentalist Mike Vass who will lead the intermediate players.

Tilly McMyn, a member of Kiltearn Fiddlers, added: “The Kiltearn Fiddlers is a lot of fun! I’ve really loved the music we’ve learned so far and Lauren encourages us to give ideas about what we play and how we can play it together.”

Upcoming workshop dates for The Kiltearn Fiddlers are: 5th March, 2nd April, 7th May, 4th June. If you would like to find out more and sign up, please email [email protected] or visit


Latvian Ceilidh

Review by Wangxiu Cheng

Did you know that Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland commissions and publishes reviews of trad dance events across Scotland and beyond? Following Meditarraneo, Cosmic Dance and Auld Lang Syne, this is the fourth review by our student-in-residence Wangxiu Cheng – an award-winning graduate of the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy. Wangxiu is currently undertaking her MSc studies in Dance Science and Education at Moray House School of Education and Sport, the University of Edinburgh. 

It is 2023. Scotland. Chances are that you have raised your hands with excitement in a Ceilidh near you. But have you ever tried a Latvian Ceilidh?

On the last Friday night of February, the romantic and passionate atmosphere of a Latvian Ceilidh filled the entire Teviot Row House in Edinburgh. Organized by the Edinburgh-based Latvian folk dance group Dindaru Dandaru and LaTS, the University of Edinburgh Latvian Society, the Latvian Ceilidh offered a memorable experience to hundreds of attendees, including myself. We warmed up together, danced away, enjoyed authentic folk dance performances, sang Latvian folk songs, and ultimately ended with three of Scotland’s most popular Ceilidh dances.

It was during the Dancu dancing segment, that we were treated to 13 different styles of Latvian Ceilidh through a set of steps, spins, and leaps. Among them, my favourite was the Pankukas dance, where “pankukas” in Latvian stands for “pancakes” in English. Accompanied by humorous music, Pankukas left us with an aftertaste of joy and happiness.

It transpired that both Scottish and Latvian Ceilidh have a social aspect, where dancers strengthen relationships through physical and eye contact and share common interests. The Latvian Ceilidh appears to be set to more diverse musical rhythm and its dance moves grow livelier as they keep pace with the music.

As anticipated when Dindaru Dandaru took centre stage we witnessed some of the classic dances that they would perform at the national Latvian song and dance festival held every five years. In July 2023 Dindaru Dandaru is due to represent Scotland at this important event in Latvian culture and social life. As one of the Baltic song festivals, it is also on the list of the UNESCO Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2008.

The unique formation changes of Dindaru Dandaru performance left me frequently marvelling. Their show also reminded me of the Xinjiang Uyghur dance in China which just like the Latvian folk dance seems full of joie de vivre and youthful energy.

The differences between Latvian and Scottish culture are also reflected in the costumes. The ladies’ costumes in Latvian dance are distinct in their unique national style, with long trumpet skirts that appear richer and more colourful while spinning. Although the men’s costumes are simpler in style, mostly black, white and grey, they look quite elaborate during the brisk dance moves.

There were many familiar faces among those participating in the Scottish Ceilidh, which melted my heart. I overjoyed when the caller inserted “Enjoy your culture!” in the instructions. Dance conveys culture, expresses national feelings and beliefs, shares aesthetic choices and accumulation of culture and thoughts. The value of folk culture and entertainment is deeply inscribed in traditional dance.

Participating in various Ceilidh dancing is an excellent way to explore the diversity of dance styles and cultural traditions. Each Ceilidh dance evening is one of a kind, offering an opportunity to learn new dance steps, relish in different musical genres and immerse oneself in diverse cultural customs. Regardless of whether it is a Scottish Ceilidh, a Latvian Ceilidh, or any other form of Ceilidh dance, each event presents an occasion for individuals to unite, have a great time, and revel in the exhilaration of dancing in a fresh and thrilling manner.

I look forward to seeing more international folk and traditional dances presented in Edinburgh in the future, including at the annual Pomegranates Festival which had sprung last spring with exactly this mission. Dance is universal and brings people together across cultural and language barriers. It has the power to bring joy and excitement showcasing the beauty of different cultures.

I hope that more and more traditional dances from different parts of the world, including Latvia and China, will be shared and celebrated at this year’s Pomegranates 28-30 April 2023. I am delighted to learn that Karlis Caucis of Dindaru Dandaru is amongst the traditional dance artists to lead one of the twelve world dance workshops as part of Pomegranates Festival Day 1 on 28 April 2023 which will also be livestreamed for anyone who can’t make it to Edinburgh. Have you booked your ticket yet? Pay What You Can:


Images and video by Wangxiu Cheng (centre above). Editorial support by Iliyana Nedkova


March 2023

Spring has sprung across Scotland and we are sowing the seeds of our Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland Pomegranates – our springtime international traditional dance festival 28-30 April 2023. Have you booked your Pomegranates 2023 festival tickets yet? Pay What You Can now. Can’t make it to Edinburgh for the three festival nights of live dance shows, films, tours, talks, poems and afterparties? Join us from the comfort of your home or studio as we livestream the first festival day of twelve (!) workshops on 28 April 8am-5pm. Book now!

Alongside our Pay What You Can festival offer, you can also try our FREE Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland membership for 2023. Register now! In the meantime, let’s dance through March 2023! Just use our curatorial line up below to plan your Scottish and international dance steps across Scotland and beyond! Share our infographics for at a glance overview of our own Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland activities this month!


by 3 Mar

Garba – book this session and learn the authentic Indian folk dance form of Garba with Jigar Soni of Soni’s School of Garba Dance, the world’s biggest Garba school! Held at Dance Base, Edinburgh. Cost: £20


by 3 Mar

Writing Opportunity – a member of Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland? Planning to attend Folk Education Development Day at Cecil Sharp House, London on 4 Mar? Write a review for our website and receive a writer’s fee. Contact us for details at [email protected] by 3 Mar.


3 Mar

Carnival Ceilidh hosted by the Edinburgh University New Scotland Country Dance Society. Held at Upper Hall, Edinburgh. Bring your best costume.


3 Mar

Bimonthly E-Newsletter exclusive to Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland subscribers. Join our mailing list and subscribe now.  


4 Mar

Hornpipe Dance Workshop in aid of the RNLI hosted by the Edinburgh University New Scotland Country Dance Society. Held at Quaker Studio, Edinburgh


4 Mar
Spring Ball hosted by Glasgow University Scottish Country Dance Club Held at Bearsdan Community Hall, Glasgow

4 Mar

Folk Education Development Day:Teaching Folk Dance in Schools curated by our friends at Folk Education Network of English Folk Dance and Song Society at Cecil Sharp House, London. FREE


4 Mar + 11 Mar + 18 Mar + 25 Mar

West African – a drop-in dance class led by Raquel Ribes. Held at Dance Base, Edinburgh. Cost per class from £9


4 Mar + 11 Mar + 18 Mar + 25 Mar

Authentic Argentine Tango – a drop-in dance class led by Ani Tchakmakdjian. Held at Dance Base, Edinburgh. Cost per class from £9


4 Mar

Trad Dance Night with Mairi Campbell’s Lismore Dance Band. Held at Lismore, Isle of Lismore. FREE. Donations welcome.


5 Mar + 19 Mar

Hip Hop/Breakin’ – an open practice session for breakers, hip hoppers, lockers, poppers, waackers, housers and freestylers. Dancers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Held at Dance Base, Edinburgh. Cost per session: £2.50


5 Mar

Sunday Social with Dunedin Dancers with live music by Ewan Galloway. Held at Craigmillar Park Church Hall, Edinbugh. Tickets from £5


5 Mar

Dance Through The Decades – a celebration over Zoom of 100 years through Scottish music and dance hosted by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. FREE


6 Mar + 16 Mar
Dance Callers’ Chat  – regular callers’ chats over Zoom hosted by dance caller Lisa Heywood. The group is open to all styles of dance as long as there’s a caller. Opportunities for peer learning, reflection and discussions of specific topics. Free. Sign up required. 

9 Mar + 16 Mar

Bulgarian Dance Workshops for beginners and advanced hosted by Hop Trop, Edinburgh. Led by Ariana Stoyanova and Mirela. Held at Dance Base, Edinburgh. FREE


10-11 Mar

The Sacrifice – featuring live music on stage, this dance show is inspired by Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and the uniquely rhythmic and expressive movements of ‘Tswana’ the traditional dance of Botswana. Showing at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh. Tickets from £19


11 Mar 

Ceilidh with dance caller Ken Gourlay accompanied by his ceilidh band. Held at Lauriston Hall, Edinburgh. Tickets from £10. FREE to NHS staff

15 Mar
Dance Professionals Fund – If you have worked for three years in total in ballet or contemporary dance (dancer, dance teacher, choreographer) you should be eligible for support. Traditional and social dance forms including South Asian, ballroom and street dance will also be considered. Apply for this round by 15 Mar
15–16 Mar
University Dance Performance organised by the The University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh University Students’ Association at Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh featuring step and Highland dance
17 Mar
75th Anniversary Dance hosted by the Edinburgh University New Scotland Country Dance Society

17 Mar

Mbangilu – a sharing of our Traditional Dance Residency following Kalubi Mukengela’s research from 13-16 Mar at Dance Base, Edinburgh in the traditional Luba and Kuba dances of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In collaboration with drummer Nemo Ganguli. FREE but booking required. READ MORE


17 Mar

Anniversary Dance Edinburgh University New Scotland Country Dance Society are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. Fun, celebratory cake and live music by Iain MacPhail’s Band at Lauriston Hall, Edinburgh


18 Mar
Spring Dance – hosted by Dunedin Dancers with Susan MacFadyen and her band. Held at Reed Memorial Church, Edinburgh. Sign up required
19 Mar
Advanced Country Dance – an afternoon hosted by Dunedin Dancers at Craigmillar Park Church, Edinburgh. Sign up required

22 Mar

Job Opportunity – could you be the Head of Dance for Health and Wellbeing at Dance Base, Edinburgh? Salary: £34,800 per annum. Contract: Full time, 35 hours per week. Apply by 22 Mar


24 Mar

Centenary Dance – celebrate the Centenary of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society with live music by Ewan Galloway and his Scottish Dance Band. Held at St Cuthbert’s Parish Church, Edinburgh. Join waiting list


25 Mar

Duets – exhibition preview of Gabriel Schmitz’ first solo show in Scotland featuring a live duet of trad dance and drawing as part of Pomegranates 2023 festival. Held at the Storytelling Court of Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh. FREE but booking required. READ MORE


25 Mar

Ceilidh with dance caller Ken Gourlay accompanied by his ceilidh band. Held at Greyfriars Charteris Centre, Edinburgh. Tickets from £10. FREE to NHS staff.


25 Mar

Alba Social – a fun afternoon of dancing hosted by a group of young Scottish country dancers. Held at Jordanhill Parish Church, Glasgow. FREE to under aged 12 years. 12-18 years: £2. Over 18 years: £5


25 Mar

Centenary Concert – celebrate the wonderful music Royal Scottish Country Dance Society love to dance to with live performances from Muriel Johnstone, Pete Clark, Tim Macdonald and Peter Shand. Held at Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh. Tickets: £10


25 Mar

The Ball – the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society invites members from around the world to join 2023 Centenary celebrations at a special Ball hosted in Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms. Join waiting list


26 Mar

Scratch Night – a platform for showcasing dance work-in-progress being made in Scotland. Curated by independent artist Lewis Normand, this evening will feature work by Max Evans, David Yates, Anya Sirina and Marios Ento-Engkolo. Tickets from £6.


26 Mar – 1 May

Duets – Gabriel Schmitz’ first solo show in Scotland featuring duets of dance and drawing as part of Pomegranates 2023 festival. Held at the Storytelling Court of Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh. FREE. READ MORE


28 Mar

Live Duet – a live duet of dance and drawing featuring Pomegranates 2023 festival artist-inresidence Gabriel Schmitz. Held at the Goethe-Institut, Glasgow. FREE but booking requiered. READ MORE


28 Mar

Nice’n’Easy – a fun evening with a programme of popular dances that is suitable for everyone. Hosted by Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. Held at Barclay Viewforth, Edinburgh. Tickets: £5


31 Mar

Catch the Rhythmic Orkney Tide and Ride Jennifer Wrigley‘s new piece of music featuring Fèis Lochabair Orkney Dancers. Held at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. 



Title image by Simon Berger/unsplash as featured in our Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland commission Beira and Bride by Donald Smith