Small Hall events kick off on Skye

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The fourth SEALL Festival of Small Halls officially kicks off on Friday  November 19 with an evening concert and feast in Dunvegan hall.

The event heralds the start of eight days (no events on Monday November 22) of performances, concerts and workshops culminating in the popular St Andrew’s night celebration, the Small Halls Big Cèilidh, at the Sligachan Hotel on the evening of Saturday November 27.

The festival is supported by Creative Scotland, Scotland’s Winter Festivals Fund, Blas Festival, the Culture and Business Fund Scotland, the Highland Council and the Sligachan Hotel. The Big Cèilidh is part of St Andrew’s Fair Saturday.

Featured musicians this year are trad giants Mary Macmaster (Poozies), Angus MacKenzie (Daìmh), Ewan Robertson (Breabach), Seán Gray (Paul McKenna Band), Megan Henderson (Breabach), Inge Thomson, Marie Fielding and Mairearad Green. Completing the line up is Louis Barabbas (Bedlam Six and Neagh and Taighe project leader of Aiseirigh, the Skye and Lochalsh Culture Collective).

This year’s festival will include a mix of acoustic daytime performances and evening concerts with reduced capacity audiences where the musicians will be split to perform in Waternish, Dunvegan, Raasay, Elgol, Braes, Kilmuir, Glendale, Edinbane, Broadford, Skeabost, Minginish, Breakish and Kyle. Some concerts will be opened with sets from Skye and Raasay’s young musicians and on Sunday afternoon, Angus MacKenzie will be leading a family music session at An Crùbh. The Dunvegan and Kyle concerts will form part of the programme of the Blas Festival 2021.

All musicians come together for the Dunvegan opening night and the Big Cèilidh.

SEALL Creative Director, Marie Lewis, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to return Small Halls to a live stage. Nothing beats a live performance and we have a wonderful line-up to make our audience experience as special as possible.

‘We are very much aware that, by returning to in-person indoor events, we run the risk of viral contagion if no one bothers to take precautions. As the virus continues to haunt us, the health and wellbeing of everyone involved in our events is our paramount concern and this year we are doing everything in our power to hold events safely.

‘Even though restrictions have been lifted, we are not being complacent and know we must protect those who are most vulnerable to the virus. To this end, we are erring on the side of caution. We have reduced the capacity of our halls to allow for social distancing and are keen to seat people in bubbles if that is their preference; we have stringent health and safety procedures in place; and can track and trace via ticketing information. Face masks are compulsory when standing or moving around indoors, but may be removed once seated.

‘To help us to make our events virus free, we would ask anyone who is showing symptoms of Covid-19 to stay at home and self-isolate. We also ask everyone to make sure they are double vaccinated, to take a lateral flow test just before arriving at the hall and stay at home if it you test positive.

‘Unfortunately, Covid-19 is still with us. Together we can prevent its spread, but only if everyone does their bit.’

The Dunvegan opening night will include an optional three-course meal in the hall, beginning at 6pm. To book a table, contact info@seall.co.uk

For more information visit www.seall.co.uk/smallhalls