A plea has been made to help accommodate visitors to the annual Hebridean Celtic Festival, which doubles the population of Stornoway each year.
The award-winning HebCelt returns for the 22nd time on 19-22 July, with headliners The Waterboys, Imelda May, Dougie MacLean and Lucy Spraggan.
Last year’s record-breaking festival increased the population of Stornoway to nearly 18,000 over the four days, and already advance bookings for this year mean rooms at hotels and guest houses are at a premium.
The local VisitScotland office has made an appeal to residents to accommodate festival-goers who will be arriving from across Europe, Canada, the US and Australia.
Alan Mackenzie, VisitScotland Islands Manager, said: “HebCelt’s huge appeal as an international event continues to attract people from all over the world to the islands.
“The influx of people is great for the town and islands in general, but it does put pressure on the accommodation sector as already there are few beds available during festival week.
“We would be grateful if any regular accommodation providers that still have vacancies could contact our team at the Stornoway VisitScotland iCentre (01851 703088).
“Any extra help with good quality accommodation and hospitality in the Stornoway area for the festival week would also be greatly appreciated.
“By working together to attract international sporting, cultural and business events to Scotland, we can shine a spotlight on this country’s growing reputation as the perfect stage for events.”
To help ease the pressure, HebCelt has again linked up with Pitch Village which will provide tents - pre-pitched and fully-equipped - on a site at Willowglen, allowing festival-goers the chance to pre-book accommodation for two to eight people.
The site will also offer showers, toilets, storage facilities, phone charging and dedicated security.
Susan Millichip, Project Manager of Pitch Village, said: “Our first visit to HebCelt last year was a great success and we received some fantastic feedback from people who enjoyed hassle-free camping during the festival.
“We are offering more ticket and tent packages this year for what promises to be another highly successful event.”
An economic survey of last year’s HebCelt, headlined by Runrig, found that 63 per cent of the audience came from outside Lewis and Harris, with almost three quarters saying they were in the area specifically to attend the festival.
Visitors were drawn from across the UK and also abroad, including Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and spent an average of £500 during their stay.
Overall, the festival directly generated £1.4 million, but its wider knock-on impact on local businesses meant a net economic effect of £2.2 million.
HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan added: “After our record-breaking 21st festival last year, we are looking forward to another bumper attendance, which will bring a wonderful atmosphere and an economic tonic to the town.
“The number of visitors does have a knock-on effect on accommodation, but we would encourage people to use facilities provided by Pitch Village, the other campsite at Laxdale, as well as other types of accommodation, to ensure they maximise their stay in the Hebrides.
Information on local accommodation can be found here - https://www.hebceltfest.com/location/accommodation/
Tickets for this year’s HebCelt are available from www.hebceltfest.com
Tickets are available for the main arena, An Lanntair, late night ceilidhs/clubs and the community events.
For info on Pitch Village ticket and accommodation packages see http://pitchvillage.com/festivals/hebcelt