The annual Barbados Celtic music Festival will be held from May 12-15 with the return of live events after two years and a new director
With the COVID restrictions on gatherings, the festival continued online in 2020 and 2021, presenting music from all the acts who have performed over the years since 2011. This included three-time BRIT award winner Eddi Reader, the Peatbog Faeries, Hamish Stuart from the original Average White Band who played live in Barbados in 2018, and BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winner Jeana Leslie and her band FARA from Orkney.
Leslie, who is the new director of the festival announced: “We are delighted to be back in Barbados with live events this year 2022. We are working closely with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. in London to promote the festival and encourage new visitors to the island.
“We will be bringing new acts in to perform, and pipers and drummers from England, Scotland and Canada have already booked their holidays and to come and perform in our big street parade planned for Saturday 14th May. We will be marching through Bridgetown alongside our partners the Barbados Defence Force Band as we have done since 2017,” she said
“It is a great fusion of music and culture – with the BDF and our pipers and drummers having shared music with each other from their traditions, amalgamating to perform traditional pipe band numbers along with the Bajan tunes too. The Barbados Defence Band played in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland in the 1990s and they hope to return to Scotland in years to come to repeat this.
“It is heartening that several of our pipers and drummers are returning every year to have a holiday here in the wonderful surroundings of Barbados and taking part in our live events.”
The festival dates back to the 1990s, when Welsh woman Ruth Williams brought her father’s Welsh choir to the island to perform a moving concert. At the last live festival in 2019, the Gwalia Singers Male Voice Choir and their partners and families, from Swansea in Wales travelled over as the first Welsh Choir to come back to the island. They performed at the Walled Garden Theatre at Barbados Museum. Several other Welsh choirs have expressed interest in performing in 2023 and 2024.
The Gwalia Singers made history singing “Beautiful Barbados” to their audience, and then at Grantley Adams International Airport on departure, they popped up with a flash mob song which was recorded by a local and went viral on social media channels!
There are so many historical Celtic connections between Barbados and the Celtic countries of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Nova Scotia and parts of northern Europe where Celtic history is strong. With the famous “redlegs” – Scottish indentured servants purged from Scotland in the 1740s to work in the sugar industry, and their descendants still in Barbados – so called as the hot Bajan sunshine quickly burned their pale skinned legs under their kilts. With the Scotland District and sharing the patron Saint Andrew, there is a rich shared history between the countries.
Leslie continued: “We will culminate the street parade down at Blakey’s on the Boardwalk on Saturday late afternoon and into the evening – with a bit of a hoolie – some live music from everyone and dancing.” (PR)