Edinburgh Tradfest

The very best traditional music from Scotland and around the world returns from 3rd to 13th May 2024.

Edinburgh Tradfest

About Edinburgh Tradfest

, Various Locations Edinburgh
Edinburgh Tradfest Website
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Facebook information can be found here

The past, present and future of traditional music

Edinburgh Tradfest has a rich story. With its longer tap roots in the Edinburgh Folk Festival, it was launched by Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS) in 2013 to provide a distinctive platform for folk arts in the capital city. Edinburgh is a hot house of talent, home grown and visiting, and Tradfest is an opportunity to see it all in play.

In 2015, TRACS asked us at the Soundhouse Organisation to programme a series of concerts for them. With many years of concert promoting, beginning at our house in 2002, and then our regular Monday nights at The Traverse Bar (gathering appreciative audiences since 2014), we were well placed to select a dynamic line up of musical stars from home and abroad.

In 2018, however, TRACS had its funding reduced (as part of wider cut backs in government funding) but they honoured their commitment with a very strong Tradfest programme in that year. When it came to appraise the situation for 2019 the good folks at TRACS decided they couldn’t continue without funding. We thought it was a shame to lose the festival particularly at a time when Scotland’s traditional music scene is so strong and vibrant, so they agreed to pass it on to us in 2019. We are indebted to TRACS for their generous spirit and assistance in handing over the Tradfest reins.

In 2019, we were able to double the audience for our gigs and in 2020 we wanted to double the number of curated shows on offer to 20 so were hoping for another audience doubling. The Festival was also to include a folk film strand from Transgressive North, entitled the Folk Film Gathering, and a programme of family/storytelling events at the Scottish Storytelling Centre under the title ‘May Days’.

In the end covid put a halt to those plans with the festival cancelled just before line up announcement in March 2020. Thanks to the generosity of our funders: Creative Scotland, the City of Edinburgh, and the William Grant Foundation we were able to pay all musicians their guarantees, put together a new recording and video of Wild Mountain Thyme to mark what would have been the opening day of the festival on 1 May 2020 and produce four online concerts streamed in October 2020.

Because of the ongoing situation with the covid pandemic the 2021 festival was also entirely digital and featured as many of those musicians we had hoped to present in 2020. We hosted two unique online concerts, opening with Catriona Macdonald’s Shetland Springs, and closing with the live streamed Rebellious Truth lecture and concert by Karine Polwart. We also presented nine editions of our new minted Edinburgh Tradfest Podcast which proved very popular with over 5,000 subscribers. Again we had the support from Creative Scotland and the William Grant Foundation, with the University of Edinburgh Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies coming on board for 2021. Heartfelt thanks to them.

There was relief everywhere and a hefty smattering of joy when we eventually got to return to normal in 2022. We got the big opening concert we had always wanted in collaboration with the Usher Hall team when Duncan Chisholm launched the festival in some style at the Assembly Music Hall. In total over 2,500 tickets were sold to Edinburgh Tradfest’s live music events with a further 3,000 people tuning in to listen to the Edinburgh Tradfest Podcast which added three episodes this year. Overall the Festival featured nearly 100 artists from the world of folk music including well known international and Scottish artists: Frigg, Shooglenifty, Eliza and Martin Carthy, Karine Polwart, Project Smok, Alice Allen and Patsy Reid, and The Shee. They were joined by some of the best up-and-coming names on the circuit including Beth Malcolm, Eabhal, Madderam, and Malin makes Music and one of the greatest classic banjo players of all time Aaron Jonah Lewis from the highly acclaimed old time trio The Corn Potato String Band.

In 2023 we broke our own audience records once again with a critically acclaimed line up.

For 2024 we are planning yet another superlative line up.

Upcoming Events at Edinburgh Tradfest

FISHING: An Exhibition by Stephanïe Vandëm

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FISHING is a modern exploration of contemporary identities and heritage from artist Stephanïe Vandëm at the Scottish Storytelling Centre from 3rd May!


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