The demise of T in the Park has been mourned acutely by Scottish music fans. But while it was a sore loss in the cultural calendar, there were some aspects of TITP that were less enjoyable – namely the state of the portable loos, the swathes of muddy swamps and the limited food options beyond hot dogs and chips.

Connect Festival, held in the Royal Highland Centre Showgrounds in Edinburgh since 2022, is a different breed of festival. The music is still sensational, with the kind of energetic crowds that Scotland is famed for, but with a far more civilised experience for those attending.

Food options are plentiful, for starters. Dozens of food trucks are dotted throughout the site, including recognisable Scottish institutions like Mimi’s Bakehouse, The Mac Shack and Mana Poke Bowls. Drink options go far beyond Tennent’s, too, with Glenmorangie cocktails, fruity spritzes, Panther Milk and a plethora of wine and beer options.  

Connect is a far more family-friendly event than its sister festival Trnsmt, with a designated family area with picnic benches that’s fenced off from the main arena area. I spotted several babies with ear defenders being bounced along to the music as well as young kids on shoulders.

There is specific focus on wellbeing, with yoga classes, cold water therapy, sound healing and meditation all offered during the festival’s three-day line up. A special acoustic stage was also set up in partnership with Tiny Changes, a mental health charity established in memory of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison.

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The beauty of holding Connect in the Royal Highland Showground is that there is paving and tarmac throughout, meaning that the grass remained in impeccable condition throughout the duration of the festival (though a lack of rain helped too). I was, in fact, completely overdressed in welly boots.

We attended as day guests though camping is available, with pre-pitched tepees available for those who don’t fancy slumming it and bringing their own tent. Proximity to Edinburgh airport and several airport hotels also means that a warm bed is available within walking distance of the site, if you don't mind forking out for a hotel room.  

And as for the toilets? Well, for a small fee you can upgrade to a VIP ticket which gives you access to swanky indoor toilets (as well as a separate bar and seating area). It was a near-revolutionary experience to be at a festival and not have to grapple with a shoogly lock on a smelly portaloo – one I would highly recommend for the extra money.

Putting all that aside, the sheer quality of artists at Connect make it one of the biggest new festivals in the UK. Headliners for the 2023 event included Primal Scream, Franz Ferdinand, Arab Strap, Boygenius, Loyle Carner, Young Fathers and Fred Again. Yet the beauty of a festival is not just the headliners, but discovering new music – which for us came in the shape of Scottish punk band Humour. Full of an energy that defied their lunchtime slot on one of Connect’s smaller stages, this Glasgow-based quintet proved exactly why they are steadily building loyal fans across the continent.

Californian pop trio Muna were another surprise highlight of the Saturday line-up, with their infectious enthusiasm and earworm tracks winning over even the most cynical observer. We also loved dance duo Joy Anonymous, who played to an animated crowd on the Unknown Pleasures stage.

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But the undeniable star of the show was main headliner Fred Again (real name Fred Gibson), a electronic producer hailing from south London. He made his name writing songs for other people (including George Ezra’s ‘Shotgun’) before releasing music under his own banner. It proved to be a fortuitous decision, with his unique layering of spoken word and electronic samples making him one of the most exciting acts to come out of the UK. He weaved his eclectic back catalogue together seamlessly during his set at Connect, with roars of approval from the crowd adding energy to his performance and a palpable sense of joy shared by those lucky enough to watch him.

It was the fitting end to what had been a wonderful experience at Connect, made that bit sweeter by being able to catch a bus straight back to Glasgow from the arena gates. Where do I sign up for tickets for 2024?