Thousands party in post lockdown joy at The Gathering Festival, Inverness.

This was my first festival since Scotland’s entire live music scene had been put on hold during lockdown. This was also a pretty big deal for the thousands of people gathering in Inverness and it was clear from those involved and the audience that it was a welcome return with more than a few emotional moments.

Like many events, last year’s festival was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Around 6,000 people flocked to the sold-out festival at the Northern Meeting park in the centre of Inverness celebrating the best of traditional Highlands and Islands music with performances by rhythmnreel, Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Torridon and Skerryvore.

I’ll be honest, a trad festival is not normally on my radar, but this was so much more. This was the triumphant return of festivals to the Highlands, a re-connection of friendships and utter joy.  From the moment I (perhaps a little nervously) walked through the gates it was clear this was the perfect event to shake off the lockdown blues.  It was obvious the organisers had worked hard to make this a covid safe festival with hand-washing stations and face masks dotting the field and possibly the cleanest festival toilets ever! It could well be the benchmark for future Scottish festivals and events.

And the audience – over two years of pent up emotions flowed throughout the day as the crowd lapped up foot stomping performances from the likes of Torridon and Celtic-rock headliners, Wolfstone.  On the opposite side of the field, music fans were treated to intimate stripped back sets under canvas from Bruce Macgregor and friends and captivating multi-instrumentalists, Mairearad Green and Anna Massie amongst others.

Check out the photos below that sum up this year’s incredible event.

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All photos © Jamie Macdonald.