If you have missed the thrill of live music over the last few years, check out our list of the summer's first batch of music festivals

Shetland Folk Festival

The UK’s most northerly folk festival returns after a two year, pandemic-enforced break and will doubtless be seeking to live up to Dick Gaughan’s legendary description of it, uttered in the festival’s inaugural year of 1981: “This festival requires a government health warning – nobody sleeps”. Anyone who has visited Shetland when the nights are drawing out will know the truth of that statement generally. There’s a host of local talent on display at various venues – as everyone knows, Shetland is quite the traditional music nursery – and among the visiting acts are Dougie MacLean, Heidi Talbot, The Poozies, Quebecois luminaries Le Vent Du Nord and the delightfully named Frigg, a Finnish septet blending Nordic folk with bluegrass.

April 28-May 1


The Girvan Traditional Folk Festival

Alasdair Roberts (pictured below), whose career has encompassed traditional songs as well as collaborations with visual artists and more indie-focused alt-folk fare, is the headline act at this year’s gathering in the Ayrshire harbour town. Among the others in line-up are Heather Yule, a story-teller and musician, Dublin-based multi-instrumentalist Eithne Ní Chatháin, who performs as Inni-K, poet and performer Stuart A Paterson and three-piece purveyors of Irish traditional music Airghiolla. It all kicks off with a Friday Festival Ceilidh in the Catholic Hall and you can catch Roberts at the Milestone Concert at the same venue (Sunday May 1) as he previews work from his new album in the company of Dumfries and Galloway-based instrumentalists Gavin Marwick and Ruth Morris among others. Tickets start at £10 or there’s a £60 weekend festival ticket which allows entrance to all events other than workshops. There’s also free camping available and paid-for spaces available for campervans and motorhomes.

April 29-May 1



Folk singer Alasdair Roberts

Edinburgh Jazz And Blues Festival

One of Europe’s biggest jazz festivals, Edinburgh’s annual jazz and blues meet tends to the more traditional end of the musical spectrum so it’s no surprise that one of its headliners is that perennial crowd-pleaser Jools Holland, appearing here with his Rhythm And Blues Orchestra. Also high on the bill is saxophonist and jazz singer Curtis Stigers. Those two acts perform at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre on July 15 and 16 respectively.

July 15-24


Arran Folk Festival

Another festival hoping to return with a bang after an enforced hiatus, Arran’s annual folk gathering has a line-up which includes Orkney guitar legend Ivan Drever (father of Lau’s Kris Drever), the Lauren Collier Band, multi-instrumentalist and singer Tim Edey, and harmonica and guitar duo Will Pound and Jenn Butterworth. It kicks off with a Friday afternoon Open Session at Brodick’s Douglas Hotel, continues with the Evening Concert in Brodick Hall and of course there’s a late night session to look forward too as well. Head for the Brodick Bar on Alma Road for that one. It runs into the wee hours.

June 10-12


East Neuk Festival

Spread across venues in Anstruther, St Monans, Crail, Cellardyke and Kilrenny, and bringing together musicians and sounds from Austria to Syria, the unsung gem that is the East Neuk Festival returns to Fife this summer. Acclaimed pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja (pictured below) will perform Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas, there’s more modern fare in the form of Sally Beamish’s Reed Stanzas, performed by the Elias String Quartet, there’s jazz from improvisational cellist Shirley Smart, music from Kenyan multi-instrumentalist Rapasa Otieno and a blend of oud and experimental electronics courtesy of Rihab Azar and Luke Daniels. Elsewhere don’t miss Thunderplump, in which composer and broadcaster Neil Brand, presenter of BBC Four’s Sound Of Cinema series, curates a season of music and film based around the theme of Scottish weather. Finally, the Bowhouse in St Monans is the venue for Light The Lights, a bold collaboration between Scottish guitarist Sean Shibe, violinist Benjamin Baker and Gandini Juggling, a sextet of contemporary circus specialists whose past performances include an English National Opera production of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten.

June 29-July 3



Acclaimed concert pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja


A love of AC/DC is probably a prerequisite for this one as it celebrates the legendary Aussie rockers’ late frontman Bon Scott, who was born in the Angus town of Kirriemuir and lived there until his family emigrated to Fremantle in 1952. He later met the Glasgow-born Young Brothers in Sydney and the rest is rock and roll history. Today Kirriemuir is the proud owner of a Bon Scott statue and, each spring, proud host of Bonfest. This year’s line-up includes The Dust Coda, Florence Black, Burnt Out Wreck, Massive Wagon and Bad Actress. And of course there are AC/DC tribute acts such as Bon ACDC Show, Thunderstruck and Bon UK. There’s also a Bonfest campsite if you want to make a weekend of it.

April 29-May 1


Cantilena Festival

Promising a week of chamber music across Islay, the Cantilena Festival teams the six professional musicians of the Cantilena Players, led by violinist Angus Ramsay, with students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Together they mount performances of works by much-loved composers such as Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven and Schubert.



The Dandelion Festivals

Mounted as a collaboration with Celtic Connections, commissioned by Event Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, The Dandelion Festivals have a mission to inspire people to “sow, grow and share” food, music and ideas. The first of the two festivals takes place in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park in June, the second at the Northern Meeting Park in Inverness in September. Across both weekends, both parks will be transformed into a live music venue which doubles as an interactive theatre space which “dares to reimagine our relationship with food and the planet”. At the heart of the festival is the Pavilion Of Perpetual Light, a 10 metre high art installation. And there are some big names to match the big aims: Newton Faulkner, indie-folk faves This Is The Kit, Les Amazones d’Afrique and local talent such as Karine Polwart, Suse Bear, former Delgados frontwoman Emma Pollock appearing as part of the Hen Hoose collective (pictured below), and Admiral Fallow. Best of all, perhaps, it’s free.

June 17-19 (Glasgow)

September 2-4 (Inverness)



The Hen Hoose collective featuring Signy, Emma Pollock, and Jayda 

Fly Open Air

The surrounds of splendid, statuesque, Category A-listed Hopetoun House near Edinburgh is the unlikely (though very grand) setting for this celebration of DJ culture and dance music. Among the big draws are Berlin-based South Korean Peggy Gou, author of 2019 club smash It Makes You Forget, London-based producer Elkka, Little Gay Brother and (your correspondent’s favourite) Barry Can’t Swim. Weekend tickets are available for £95 or £60 per day, and transport to and from the site from Glasgow and Edinburgh is available.

May 21-22


Tartan Heart Festival

The picturesque and historic Belladrum Estate near Inverness is the site for this well-established festival which offers indie, rock, blues and roots music alongside street theatre, cabaret, film screenings and alternative therapies. Headlining this year’s line-up are two 1970s greats, Van Morrison and Nile Rodgers (pictured below), appearing here with Chic. Further down the bill you’ll find indie favourites from (respectively) the 1990s and the Noughties in the form of Shed Seven and The Magic Numbers, winning dance grooves from Ibibio Sound Machine, homegrown heroes such as Emeli Sande, The Fratellis, Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and Admiral Fallow and – because you always need one heritage punk act to get grandad pogoing – Belfast’s finest, Stiff Little Fingers.

July 28-30



Funk legend Niles Rodgers