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Rockness and other Scottish Music Festivals

Jun 14, 2008
Think of Scotland and you will most probably immediately think of tartan, think of Scottish music and you will, most likely, think of the bagpipes or the fiddle. Yes Scotland is well known for both it's tartan and it's bagpipes and traditional Scottish music is known (and practiced) across the globe. While traditional Scottish music remains incredibly popular Scotland is a diverse nation and this is extremely apparent in it's music. While the whole of the U.K. has seen a marked increase in the number of annual music festivals, Scotland seems to have exploded musically with festivals celebrating all types of music from the traditional to the bang up to date sounds of the DJ and modern rock/pop. The Rockness music festival, held near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, saw a strange mix of modern dance acts and DJ's alongside the latest pop acts and up and coming rock bands. So Scotland is not just bagpipes and tartan!

Like any other nation, Scotland has a rich musical past and the music of Scotland has continually changed with society. However Scotland has always been proud of it's past and this is extremely apparent in Scottish music. Today the country has one of the most diverse music scenes in the world and this diversity is proudly presented at the numerous music festivals held throughout the year. It is not unusual to see a person dancing to the sounds of the latest rock band then cheering a traditional act. In fact many festivals in Scotland have traditional acts appearing alongside the most modern and all add to a most wonderfully eclectic mix and exciting atmosphere.

Scottish music festivals cater for all tastes in music and, whatever style or genre you appreciate most, there is bound to be a festival suitable for you. If you enjoy traditional Celtic sounds and some of the modern fusion bands then a visit to Celtic Connections of the Hebridean Celtic Festival will introduce you to both the well known and the most modern Celtic influenced acts around. On the other hand if you prefer the more modern sounds the likes of Tartan Heart, Wickerman and Rockness present a mix of the most modern and popular acts alongside the up and coming acts of the future.

Rockness, being only it's thrid year, is one of Scotland's youngest music festivals but this year over 35,000 people attended. Taking place at Clune Farm, Dores (not too far from Inverness) the music festival has one of the most astounding locations on the banks of Loch Ness. Staged by Loudsound and Slingshot, Rockness may well be in a rural and remote setting but great care is taken to ensure that the traffic and superb transportation links flow freely and smoothly.

The first festival was held on Saturday 24 June 2006 and was mainly a dance event headlined by the popular DJ Fatboy Slim on the main stage and Daft Punk in the Clash Arena (a big top tent) with an attendance of around 10,000. The following year saw the event extended to two days. Again it was mainly a dance event with the Chemical Brothers headlining the first day and the rock act Manic Street Preachers headlining the second. Daft Punk again appeared in the Clash Arena which held only 10,000 capacity, as it was soon filled the sides of the tent were soon lifted to allow the full, 30,000 strong, crowd to enjoy their performance.

The third Rockness was again mainly dance orientated, with Fatboy Slim headlining the first day for a second time, but the second day had more rock and pop acts (similar to the previous year) with the Cribs and Editors supporting the main headlining act, Razorlight. With the Clash Arena and other tents here there and everywhere there was plenty to choose from with Pete Tong and other popular DJ's playing until about 2.00am.

A crowd of thirty five thousand party goers in the confined space of a town center is a policeman's nightmare as it, more often than not, there are numerous arrests, countless fights, many injuries and even deaths. Not so at Rockness, the atmosphere is incredible, everyone smiling and happy with not a care in the world. I did hear that there was one short fight and around ten arrests but this is nothing when you consider the numbers. Sadly one poor lad died which was widely reported in the newspapers but as the cause is not known (and witnesses reported no trouble) it is unwise to speculate. Overall it is one of the most friendly festivals I have visited in nearly 30 years of festival going!

Although Rockness can be considered "family friendly" (I went with my wife and kids and the majority were teenagers and younger) Wickerman and Tartan Heart are far more suitable for the family. Both festivals are absolutely amazing for their friendly crowd with kids running around freely and, when close to the stage, the youngsters are often equipped with ear defenders!
About the Author
Rockness is over for another year (see Rockness Photos) but if you are planning to visit Inverness see our listings of Inverness hotels at http://www.invernesshotelscotland.com/
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