By Alistair Bennett
The 20th anniversary of the Celtic Connections festival will kick off today with a sold-out show at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to celebrate the milestone.
The annual event will take place over the next 18 days with musicians from countries such as Bulgaria, Mexico and Cameroon performing.
The festival celebrates traditional Scottish music and culture and it was founded in 1994 by Colin Hynd with artists such as Dougie McLean and The Mavericks playing.
The first event proved to be a success as around 32,000 attended and it has continued to grow with over 100,000 people attending in recent years.
Spanish flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo was joined by musicians Michael McGoldrick, Ewan Vernal, John McCusker as they played on the steps of Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to launch the festival.
And the anniversary concert will feature artists such as Eddi Reader, Julie Fowlis, Capercaillie and Sheena Wellington.
Donald Shaw, artistic director of the festival, said: “Many artists performing over the next 18 days have been involved in the festival for a number of years but there is also an array of fresh new talent being showcased.
“Every year we explore the connections between Celtic music and other musical genres, as well as with cultures across the globe. This year the programme is the most diverse yet.
“As always we’re delighted to be bringing some astounding world music acts to Glasgow such as Salif Keita and also three fantastic artists from Mali’s different musical cultures for the Sahara Soul Project.”
The festival began as a way to fill the usually quiet January schedule at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and it has been transformed in to a key fixture of the Scottish music calendar.