Cairncastle Ulster-Scots festival is in full swing

Bluegrass musicians on stage at the Cairncastle Ulster Scots festival in 2011. INLT 31-385-PR
Bluegrass musicians on stage at the Cairncastle Ulster Scots festival in 2011. INLT 31-385-PR
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THE twelfth annual Ulster-Scots Bluegrass and Folk Festival is now in full swing at Cairncastle.

The six-day event started on Tuesday, and continues through to Sunday, featuring all aspects of Ulster-Scots culture, from its language and history to its rich musical heritage.

And to make this year’s festival even more memorable, an international television company will be on hand to record the proceedings tonight (Thursday), when popular band Sontas will showcase their unique style and fusion of Ulster-Scots music, song and dance.

Their enthusiastic approach to Ulster-Scots music makes it fresh, new and modern, and brings it bang up-to-date for anyone who loves culture with a twist. The band, who have performed at festivals in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the USA, will be supported by the local Grousebeaters Folk band.

The fun starts at 7.30pm and everyone is invited to go along and make it an evening to remember.

Tomorrow night at 7.30pm, The Cutting Edge - Scotland’s liveliest Ceilidh-rock band - will demonstrate the best of Scottish Ceilidh and traditional music.

Self-penned tunes and songs are fused with Latin, jazz, and swing rock percussion rhythms – a combination that simply makes you want to dance. From Scottish reels to hornpipes and ballads, the Cutting Edge take will you on a musical journey that you won’t want to end.

In recent years the band has played at festivals in Uganda, Thailand, Dubai, Toronto, Italy, Germany, France and England.

They will be supported by folk groups Rightly On from Co Londonderry and Western Lilt from Maghera. Cairncastle School of Highland Dancing will also provide a dancing display.

An Ulster-Scots folk soiree will then be held on Saturday at 7.30pm, with up to 40 musicians attending including Island Fiddlers, Grousebeaters, Keep Her Lit, Western Lilt, Stewart Buchannan, Mark Carmichael and many more.

Admission each evening is priced at £8.

Workshops take place tomorrow and on Saturday, covering a range of topics such as the Ulster Covenant, differences in Ulster Scots and Irish language, Bluegrass origins, storytelling, and Ulster-Scots and Irish musical instruments. Admission is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

Ulster-Scots dancing takes place tomorrow from 2pm in Cairncastle Presbyterian Church hall, with music by The Cutting Edge band.

The festival finishes on Sunday with an Ulster Scots praise service, commencing at 2.30pm in a large marquee in Cairncastle village.

For more information visit or email

You can also phone Bobby on 07774401935 or contact your local tourist information centre for a festival leaflet.