Music and malt
FÈIS ÌLE, the island’s annual festival of music and malt, is fast approaching – it kicks off on Friday May 26 and continues until Saturday June 3. This is the largest event in the island’s social calendar and it has gone from strength to strength since it began 31 years ago.
It attracts visitors from across the globe, and the island will be bursting at the seams, accommodation will be at a premium and the local economy will greatly benefit as a result.
Among the firm favourites will be the clootie dumpling ceilidh at Ballygrant, whisky nosing and ensuing ceilidh at Port Ellen and much folk singing at Ardbeg Distillery.
Visiting performers will include the Rowan Brothers, Tide Lines, the Playboys, Irish vocalist Hugo Duncan, piper Fred Morrison and musician and author Jess Smith.
A number of local performers will also participate in some of the festival events and there will be classes in ceilidh dancing for those who want to hoof it in Highland style.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society hosts a garden party at Islay House Hotel, the Rare Malt Whisky Company will marry malt, cheese and chocolate on two evenings in the former Portnahaven school, and the Finlaggan Trust’s open day will be supported by the Vintage Malt Whisky Company.
Master distiller Jim MacEwan holds a whisky tasting session at Ballygrant, and Douglas Laing and friends will tickle the seafood and whisky taste buds at various venues including Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle.
The island’s eight distilleries are bracing themselves for the fèis invasion and will pull out all the stops to cater for the hundreds who will attend their open days throughout the week.
Even the distillery on neighbouring Jura is more than happy to join in the festive fray as is Islay Ales in Islay House Square
Those who seek a break from the music and the malt can take part in fly-fishing competitions on various local lochs and can participate in or spectate at bowling matches at both Bridgend or Port Ellen.
For more detailed fèis information contact: enquiries@ islay festival.com.