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Hebridean Celtic Festival : Economic and Social Impact Assessment

Night stage at the Festival The Hebridean Celtic Festival (HCF) is a four-day Celtic music and cultural festival based in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. In its first year, 1996, 1,500 people attended, in 2010 there were 16,500, recent performers include Van Morrison, Runrig and Imelda May. With an increasing international audience and a growing impact on local tourism, it has enlivened the local artistic and cultural community and creates significant employment and other benefits during the week. The organizers wished to look at ways to ensure the continued successful evolution of this major community event. GVA RGA were tasked with measuring the impact of the Festival, extrapolating the benefits economically, socially and culturally; taking stock of the achievements to date and gathering information that would assist the HCF in developing a future strategy.

We reviewed all previous visitor surveys, undertook primary research including face-to-face, researcher administered audience questionnaires, a self-completion survey for all volunteers and conducted a series of focus groups and in-depth interviews with residents of Stornoway.

The Festival fills a significant place in the cultural, social and economic life of the island and it is clear that it could act as a catalyst for the development of a more clearly defined niche tourism product. Just over half of the attendees were visitors, 40% of whom said they would not have visited had it not been for the Festival. With respect to the social and cultural impacts, the Festival produces a range of very positive outcomes including encouraging people to engage in community activity, improve communication and creative skills and generally making people feel less isolated and more proud of the Island. It also appears to play an important role in the sustainable preservation of the Celtic culture and continued development and appreciation of the Gaelic language and culture.

To find out more about the Festival, follow the link:  Hebridean Celtic Festival

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