Programme launched for international festival of traditional music as it returns to Aberdeen

Programme launched for international festival of traditional music as it returns to Aberdeen

An international music festival which has become a cornerstone in the traditional arts calendar across Europe and America will return to the north-east this summer.

The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention (NAFCo) was started by the University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute in 2001 and has since grown to become an international event, travelling to Newfoundland, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

It will take place in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire from July 11 to 15 offering more than 100 concerts, performances, workshops, live music sessions and other events showcasing fiddling and dance. This year’s event is supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, Creative Scotland, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils and the full programme has now been launched at

The international nature of the Festival is represented by headline act Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas. Fraser is long regarded as Scotland's premier fiddle ambassador, and Californian Haas - one of the most sought after cellists playing traditional music today.

Scotland’s own leading lights in traditional music will feature with Scots Trad Music Awards Composer of the Year 2017, Adam Sutherland, Patsy Reid, one of the most admired folk musicians in the UK, and Aberdeenshire’s own Paul Anderson all topping the bill.

They will be joined by some of the best international performers of traditional music including The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Winners The Rheingans Sisters and Nova Scotia's Troy MacGillivray who has numerous awards and nominations to his credit.

Europe’s foremost Indian violinist Jyotsna Srikanth, known for her versatility and ability to collaborate with different genres seamlessly and with ease, will also perform as will Su-a Lee, Assistant Principal Cellist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra renowned for her ability to play across all art forms and a wide musical spectrum.

Dance will also feature heavily with Michigan-born dancer, musician, and dance researcher Nic Gareiss, described by the Irish Times as “the human epitome of the unbearable lightness of being,” and "the most inventive and expressive step dancer on the scene” by the Boston Herald, leading the line-up.

Festival Director Carley Williams said the return of NAFCo to Aberdeen will mark a special homecoming for the festival, which has developed a worldwide following since its more humble beginnings at the Elphinstone Institute.

“The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention was created here and it is wonderful to be able to welcome it back in 2018.

“Since it started, NAFCo has grown into one of the cornerstones of the traditional music calendar and we are confident that Aberdeen will enjoy the same success as other cities which have hosted the festival in recent years.

“We are looking forward to welcoming performers and visitors from around the world and sharing with them the north east of Scotland’s own renowned fiddle tradition and captivating sound.”

The Aberdeen organisers are also aiming to make the 2018 NAFCo the most inclusive festival to date as Scotland celebrates the Year of Young People. 

“Every Festival has made a great effort to welcome those with no prior knowledge of traditional music, as well as enthusiasts,” Mrs Williams added.

“This year we will have opportunities for people to try instruments for the first time and to learn about traditional music. For anyone keen to know more about this important aspect of our cultural heritage, NAFCo is a great place to start. Our programme offers something for all tastes and genres and an opportunity to hear many of the world’s best performers right here in Aberdeen.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland's Director of Events, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention as it returns to Aberdeen. Events like this one strengthen the city and the region’s reputation as a key destination for experiencing Scotland’s rich cultural heritage, attracting visitors and performers from all over the world. In Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, it is also fantastic to see that the event will be celebrating the talents of young musicians as part of its wide-ranging programme.”

The full programme and tickets are available by visiting or through Aberdeen Performing Arts.