The Islay Festival of Malt and Music - 23rd May â€“ 31st May 2009
FÃ¨is ÃŒle, Islayâ€™s island-wide Festival of Malt and Music has now been running for over twenty years, and every year goes from strength to strength. Since 2000 when the local distilleries joined in, the Festival has been celebrating two of Islayâ€™s foremost attributes; music and malt!
This year the 2009 Festival kicks off on Saturday 23rd May. Lagavulin Distillery have their Open Day, and the Islay Visual Arts group open their exhibition and hold a Fun Arts Afternoon for the kids. To see out the first night of the festival there is a dance with the popular â€˜The Last Tram tae Auchenshuggleâ€™, a ceilidh band with a difference.
Sunday the 24th isnâ€™t a day of rest during Festival week! Bruichladdich Distillery invite all to their Open Day, and Sunday night is rounded off with the popular â€˜Clootie Dumpling Ceilidhâ€™, where youâ€™ll have a chance to hear Islayâ€™s superb local musical talent and to sample some fine home-made dumpling.
Monday the 25th starts early with the delights of Caol Ila Distilleryâ€™s Open Day, and finishes late with the Whisky Tasting Ceilidh, where youâ€™ll have a chance to show off your whisky nosing skills and then your dancing skills with the Islay Fiddle and Accordion Band. Continue reading....Tuesday the 26th sees tours of the Maltings (which are also running on other days through the week) and Laphroaig Distilleryâ€™s Open Day. The day ends at Laphroaigâ€™s Filling Store with a ceilidh led by the ever-popular Howff Band.
When we have such talent as the Howff Band visiting, we are determined to keep them working! They will hold musical workshops across the island during the week, and every primary school pupil on Islay and Jura will have the experience of a traditional music workshop with the band.
Wednesday the 27th is Bowmore Distilleryâ€™s Open Day. The pace gentles on Wednesday night when the best of Islayâ€™s musical talent is showcased in an Evening of Traditional Music and Gaelic. The programme features CÃ²isir GhÃ idhlig ÃŒle, Islayâ€™s senior Gaelic choir, the National MÃ²d prizewinning Ladies Choir of CÃ²isir GhÃ idhlig ÃŒle, and outstanding local singers. Niall Oliver will give us some fiddle tunes and Ella Edgarâ€™s Highland Dancers perform. Also on Wednesday is the Islay Ales open day on the square at Bridgend. A relaxed afternoon with music and fine local ales.
Thursday the 28th is our special Homecoming2009 Day. Kilchoman and Isle of Jura distilleries hold their Open Days, then in the evening Bowmore village will be given over to a parade celebrating the Year of Homecoming with all the distilleries, and honouring Islayâ€™s Emergency Services. Skerryvore will end the evening with a ceilidh dance in Bowmore Hall.
Then it is on to Friday the 29th ; Bunnahabhain Distillery hosts its Open Day and the lads from Skerryvore make an appearance here too. Friday night is a Family Ceilidh where, amongst others, a junior Gaelic choir and Ella Edgarâ€™s Highland Dancers will entertaining friends, families and visitors. For the more dram-minded, thereâ€™s a lecture on whisky in Port Charlotte.
Saturday the 30th , and the week is nearly done. Ardbeg Distillery holds the final Open Day. Have fun at the Celebrations on Port Ellen Village Green, with lots of activities for the kids. The Final Fling in Port Ellen sees out the last evening of the Festival with dancing to local band, Contraband.
Scattered amongst all of this are bowling competitions, guided walks, fly fishing competitions and a Texas Scramble at The Machrie Golf Club. The final Sunday the 31st sees a laid-back day, with a family pool competition in the Bridgend Hotel and a guided walk; far less frenetic than the rest of the week!
During FÃ¨is ÃŒle there is something for everyone, and all are welcome. This is a great week for young and old, for locals and for whisky buffs from all over the world. The FÃ¨is ÃŒle booklet giving details of times and venues of events will be available Island-wide in shops and public places, and watch for posters which will give information.
For an impression of the festival check out the Islay festival 2006 pictures