FestSite smallCaroline Maclennan, director of the Hebridean Celtic Festival, winner of the Best Event or Festival award 2014 talks to us about their HITA Experience.

Winning the Best Event or Festival category in the 2014 HITA awards enhanced our reputation at home and abroad in the run up to the milestone 20th HebCelt. this year.

Receiving the award was a major achievement and a fitting tribute for all the hard work done by an army of volunteers who help ensure HebCelt continues to grow and thrive.

Over the last two decades the festival has grown from an event attracting around 1,000, mostly local fans, to one with an audience 15 times that size, half of which comes from outside the islands.

HebCelt is one of the biggest events in the islands’ calendar and it is extremely gratifying that HITA recognised the contribution it makes in attracting visitors from around the world and encouraging them to extend their stay in this area.

The week of the festival is the busiest in the islands outside the festive season and the huge influx of visitors and the cosmopolitan atmosphere it generates not only creates a feel-good factor, it is also a major boost for local businesses, including those in the tourism sector in our host town of Stornoway and the wider area.

Hotels, guest houses and campsites are all full during festival week; extra ferries are put on and are packed with music fans; restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops all see a huge rise in customers.

During the four days of HebCelt – from 15-18 July – the focus is on Lewis and the Outer Hebrides and we use that to promote to a wide audience our Celtic and Gaelic culture, our local talent and the area in general.

This year, the national Year of Food and Drink, we are hosting Blasad dhen Fhèis -Taste the Festival – to raise awareness of the rich array of produce available, locally grown and harvested from sea and shore.

A Food Trail will showcase local food and drink champions the length and breadth of the Hebrides, while there will be pop up cookery demonstrations and a variety of local food and drink products available at the festival itself.

Winning the HITA award was an achievement and it has inspired us to work harder to promote this spectacular part of the world.

Caroline Maclennan, director of the Hebridean Celtic Festival

If you think you have what it takes to be a HITA 2015 winner or know someone who passionately works towards making the tourism industry better then you can enter or nominate here www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk

This year’s categories are –

  • Most Hospitable Hotel
  • Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
  • Best Holiday Accommodation
  • Best Informal Eating Experience
  • Best Restaurant Experience
  • Friendliest Pub/Bar
  • Best Event or Festival
  • Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
  • Tourism Everyone’s Business (open to community tourism destination management organisations, destination marketing companies, transport operators, retail and entertainment venues)
  • Best Visitor Attraction
  • Best Sporting Event
  • Hospitality Hero
  • Innovation Award (open to small or large businesses)
  • Regional Young Ambassador Award (open to people aged 30 or under)
  • Regional Ambassador Award (open to people aged 31 or over)
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