Scotland is a nation of music lovers. Plaintive pibrochs recall bygone battles and fiddles set feet tapping at events and venues all over Scotland, while newer rock and pop traditions are represented by guitar-based indie bands and DJs who perform to packed theatres, concert halls and giant stadiums.
t The Inveraray Pipe Band parading through their home town
Once the exclusive sound of the Highlands, bagpipes have become a national emblem. In summer, Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is teeming with energetic kilted pipers vying for tourists’ attention. Some play lesser known pibrochs – slow, melancholy melodies. Find out more at Glasgow’s National Piping Centre.
Scots love to party, so it’s no wonder that this small country is home to some big-name festivals. Glasgow’s TRNSMT festival is the summer’s highest-profile event, hosting icons like Stormzy and the Arctic Monkeys, home-grown talents such as Lewis Capaldi and Young Fathers, and a supporting cast of up-and-coming stars. The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival kicks off the festival season with ten days of everything from bebop and samba to swing and soul. On the banks of the River Tay, Solas is a lively gallimaufry of acoustic and electric world music, while the Tiree Music Festival lures folk-rock fusion fans to the shores of Scotland’s sunniest isle.
Scotland’s traditional music festivals attract visitors from all over the world. Scottish folk music embraces not just Celtic sounds but global rhythms and harmonies too. Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival, is the year’s biggest folk event. In the Northern Isles, Folk Frenzy, held in July, is Shetland’s celebration of the most enduring fiddling tradition in Scotland. But you don’t have to go to a festival to experience Scotland’s toe-tapping trad. When the Shetland Folk Frenzy is in full swing there are jam sessions in just about every pub in Lerwick..Visiting musos can sit in on – or even join – sessions in folk music pubs like the legendary Sandy Bell’s (www.sandybells.co.uk) in Edinburgh and the Taybank (www.thetaybank.co.uk) in Dunkeld.
Glasgow is home to a vibrant music scene and its musical history runs deep. Walk in the footsteps of musical greats and discover the stories of legendary performers who have come to define this musical city on a walking tour of Glasgow’s Music Mile (www.glasgowmusiccitytours.com). The tour covers iconic gig venues such as the Barrowland Ballroom and King Tut’s, dive bars where big names paid their dues, and concert halls of the past and present.
Enjoy musical performances by Indian dance troupes and African drummers at the Glasgow Mela – Scotland’s largest multicultural festival – held in Kelvingrove Park every summer.
DISCOVER Scotland Your Way
King Tut’s Wah-Wah Hut, Glasgow
Many legends launched their careers here, among them Oasis.
Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow
Legendary venue hosting big names as well as up-and-coming bands.
The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh
Scotland’s only venue dedicated solely to jazz.
Fat Sam’s, Dundee
This vast club hosts DJs, bands and theme nights.