Speyfest, best music festival in the North East
Speyfest is a traditional Scottish music festival based in Fochabers, Moray. Speyfest is a fantastic showcase of traditional and contemporary Celtic music with a wealth of talent locally and all over Scotland.
Born in August 1996, a local event with one tent, Speyfest has matured into what is now a major event in the local calendar. In 2023 Speyfest will celebrate its 26th anniversary. The Speyfest weekend experience has become a magnet for locals and exiles alike and indeed is now attracting devotees from across the globe.
Concerts, Ceilidhs and Stomps. Some of the biggest names from the world of traditional and contemporary Celtic music flock to Speyfest. International guests bring a touch of bluegrass and American roots - Hayseed Dixie and Tiller's Folly are particular favourites of mine. All in the beautiful village of Fochabers on the banks of the River Spey.
At the end of July, Speyfest transforms the playing fields on East Street into three days of the best in traditional and Celtic music.
The Speyfest tented village hosts a variety of seated and standing events including the Friday and Saturday concerts and stomps, the marathon that is the Speyfest Family Sunday, a craft and food fair and an ecumenical Celtic Kirk service.
Speyfest is fully licensed and offers a wide range of hot foods and a variety of drinks from many onsite concessions. The last time I was at Speyfest there was a Windswept Brewery beer tasting table!
Past acts at Speyfest have included The Red Hot Chili Pipers, Hayseed Dixie, Tide Lines and Sandi Thom.
Speyfest is sponsored by a number of local businesses.
Workshops and events
Over the festival weekend at Speyfest, there are several free events for visitors to enjoy around the village, including traditional music workshops where you can try your hand at some fiddling or bodhran. There are also "sing a song" singing workshops and a Saturday craft fair. Please take your kids to these events as they are brilliant.
The craft fair has become an important part of the Speyfest festival. The main marquee is transformed into a marketplace for artists and craftsmen to display and sell their beautiful products. Gin tastings and a prosecco afternoon tea are also part of the events on offer.
Ewan McGregor had heads in a spin when he turned up with his brother Colin and accompanied MSP Richard Lochhead to enjoy the festival in 2011.
One of the best acts to perform at the Speyfest festival are the Fochabers Fiddlers. Sourced from Milnes high school pupils aged 12 to 18, the band play their own traditional set at Speyfest every year. James Alexander established the group in 1980 to try and encourage young people to take an interest in traditional Scottish music. James Alexander usually gives a short speech before the band plays.
The group have toured America and Germany and played at the Royal Albert Hall in London for Cancer research. The fiddlers have also played at events at Buckingham Palace.
They have also recorded many CDs over the years, see their website here for the discography.
Photography at Speyfest
I was asked to be the official photographer for a few years at Speyfest, it was hard work but a lot of fun. Trudging around covered in camera equipment for 3 days is hard on the shoulders but I got some excellent band shots, and with the stage lighting, it makes all the difference for a better photo. I think the committee is constantly on the lookout for photographers who can help cover the event... it is unpaid but you do get a food pass and a very unique perspective of the event.
About Fochabers home of Speyfest
The town of Fochabers, with a population of around 2,000, lies on the banks of the River Spey about three miles from the coast in the county of Moray. Fochabers enjoys a rich musical and cultural heritage. In the past, it was home to the famous Scottish fiddler, William Marshall, and today, to a whole host of young (and not so young) fiddlers inspired by accomplished musician and composer James Alexander. Speyfest, now in its 25th year, attracts thousands of visitors to the town each summer.
This year's Speyfest is shaping up to be one of the best yet.
Acts already confirmed are:
- Norrie Maciver Band
- Mec Lir
- John McCusker, Michael McGoldrick & John Doyle
- Folk singer Siobhan Miller
The festival also includes the usual music and singing workshops, craft fair, food and drink tasting and a mixture of concerts and ceilidh dances.
Speyfest will take place from Friday 21st, to Sunday the 23rd of July 2023. Tickets will be available from their website soon.
Directions to Speyfest
By Road: Fochabers lies mid-way between Aberdeen and Inverness on the A96 trunk road. The driving time is around an hour from either city.
By Bus: There is a regular Stagecoach bus service that runs between Aberdeen and Inverness going through Fochabers.
By Rail: There are stations at Keith and Elgin which are both stops on the regular Aberdeen to Inverness Scotrail service. Both stations are approximately 10 miles from Fochabers.
By Air: There are airports at both Aberdeen and Inverness with easy access to the A96. The driving time from both is around an hour.
FAQs on Speyfest
Here are a few frequently asked questions about Speyfest.
What is Speyfest Music Festival?
Speyfest is an annual music and arts festival held in Fochabers, Moray, Scotland. The festival showcases a variety of local, national, and international artists, celebrating traditional and contemporary Celtic music, dance, and culture.
When does Speyfest Music Festival take place?
Speyfest Music Festival typically takes place over a weekend in late July or early August. This year's event takes place from Friday 21st, to Sunday, the 23rd of July.
Where is the festival held?
The festival is held in Fochabers, Moray, a picturesque village located in the northeast of Scotland. The main events take place at the Fochabers Public Institute and the surrounding area, including outdoor stages and marquees.
How do I get tickets for Speyfest?
Tickets for Speyfest can be purchased online through the official festival website or at selected local outlets. Ticket options include weekend passes, day tickets, and individual event tickets. Early bird and concession tickets may also be available.
What types of performances can I expect at Speyfest?
Speyfest offers a diverse lineup of musicians, dancers, and artists from various genres, including traditional and contemporary Celtic music, folk, rock, and more. Performances take place on multiple stages, both indoor and outdoor, offering a vibrant and exciting atmosphere for festival-goers.
Are there any workshops or activities available during the festival?
Yes, Speyfest offers a range of workshops, masterclasses, and interactive sessions for attendees of all ages and skill levels. Workshops may include instrument lessons, dance classes, and cultural discussions, giving festival-goers an opportunity to learn more about Celtic music and culture.
Can I bring my children to Speyfest?
Speyfest is a family-friendly event with activities and performances suitable for all ages. Children under a certain age may be eligible for discounted tickets, but they must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Are food and drink available at the festival?
Yes, a variety of food and drink options will be available at Speyfest, including local food vendors, bars, and cafes. The festival also promotes a sustainable approach, encouraging visitors to support local businesses and use reusable containers.
What are the accommodation options in and around Fochabers?
Fochabers and the surrounding areas offer various accommodation options, including hotels, bed & breakfasts, guesthouses, and self-catering cottages. Additionally, camping and caravan sites are available close to the festival grounds. It is recommended to book accommodation well in advance to secure your preferred choice.
Videos of Speyfest
Here are a couple of short video clips taken between taking photos at Speyfest.
Key information on Speyfest
The festival takes place annually in the village of Fochabers in Moray and has ran for more than two decades.
Celebrates traditional and contemporary Celtic music, dance, and culture.
Typically takes place over a weekend in late July or early August.
Showcases the very best Scottish talent.
Offers workshops, masterclasses, and interactive sessions for all ages.
Variety of food and drink options, including local vendors and a bustling craft fair.
Accommodation options include hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, and camping
Accessible via car, bus, and train; nearest train station in Elgin.
For more info please visit: www.speyfest.com, you can also contact them via email at email@example.com. Also, check the website for the full lineup and early bird tickets; they are bound to sell out quickly as Speyfest is an important date in Scotland's traditional music calendar.
If you are a fan of Celtic music you should definitely check out Speyfest. Please see my article on Scottish musicians for some of my favourite acts that have played at Speyfest.
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