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 & District Pipe Band parading through the town
For centuries bagpipes have been the traditional sound of the Highlands, and are now one of the most recognized emblems of Scotland. During the summer, Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is awash with kilted pipers competing for tourists’ attention. Some play lesser known pibrochs – slow, melancholy melodies.
Visiting musos can sit in on sessions in folk music bars like the legendary Sandy Bell’s (25 Forrest Rd) in Edinburgh and the Taybank Hotel (Tay Terrace) in Dunkeld. When the Shetland Fiddle Frenzy is in full swing there are jam sessions in just about every pub in Lerwick. Looking for something different? Most places have at least one bar serving up anything from pub rock and old-school rockabilly to acoustic sessions, indie-pop and even electronica.
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, Fiddle Frenzy, held in July, is Shetland’s celebration of the most enduring fiddling tradition in Scotland.
Glasgow was the UK’s first UNESCO City of Music and its musical history runs deep; today it is home to a vibrant and eclectic music scene. Learn about the city’s musical heritage on a fascinating walking tour of Glasgow’s Music Mile
Traditional Highland dancers compete in front of judges at formal events, but there’s nothing formal about a Scottish ceilidh. It’s surprisingly easy to pick up the steps of communal dances like Strip the Willow, and locals are always happy to teach the basics. Ceilidhs are held in pub back rooms, village and church halls and in farm barns in summer.Look out for posters or ads in local newspapers.
DISCOVER Scotland Your Way
King Tut’s Wah-Wah Hut, Glasgow
Many legends launched their careers here, among them Oasis.
Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow
Glasgow’s best venue for up-and-coming bands.
The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh
Scotland’s only dedicated jazz venue has up to five gigs daily.
Fat Sam’s, Dundee
This vast club hosts DJs, bands and theme nights.