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Record Breaking Year For Hebcelt Supported By System2


What is loud, colourful, fun and doubles the population of Stornoway once a year?


The Hebridean Celtic Festival is an annual international music event based in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. The main arena is located on the Castle Green at Lews Castle, with concerts taking place in other venues across Lewis and Harris. The festival is a ticketed four-day gathering which has seen its audience grow from around 800 to 18,000 since its inception in 1996.


Matt Baker, from BBC’s The One Show, said: “I love the islands – we had such a warm welcome. (HebCelt) has a community feel to it. People had such a lovely time- the music is great, it’s real, it’s live, you feel it. You can’t beat this kind of stuff.”



HebCelt began life in 1996 when founding members Caroline Maclennan and Fiona Porteous recognised there was real lack of venues for bands touring the islands. Over the years, the festival has grown significantly and around half its audience now comes from off-island. It generates more than £2 million for the local and wider economy and is the busiest time for local trade outside the festival season.


Such is HebCelt’s success, that it is now seen as a model for small events in other parts of the world. This year the festival hosted delegates from Hong Kong and Australia, who have been inspired by HebCelt to create their own community-based festivals focusing on local culture.


HebCelt has attracted top name artists such as Van Morrison, Runrig, Deacon Blue, The Waterboys and The Saw Doctors to the Hebrides.  But it is also renown for championing young and emerging talent and providing a stage for the stars of tomorrow.


System2 has enjoyed working with the Hebridean Celtic Festival for 16 years. In that time, we have helped raise the festival’s profile amongst the traditional media and, more recently, via social media platforms. HebCelt enjoys an enviable reputation locally, nationally and internationally as a family-friendly, community-orientated event that supports the islands’ culture and traditions as well as being a key driver for the economy and tourism.


The Event Campaign Goals for 2018


We worked together with HebCelt to devise the following objectives for 2018.


  • Increase ticket sales and attendance

  • Increase social media following and engagement

  • Raise awareness of the festival through media coverage

  • Promote the following core themes: Music, Community, Setting.

  • Highlight HebCelt’s strong association with the Gaelic language and culture

  • Promote traditional music and young talent.


Digital Communications Play An Important Part In Promotion


System2 was responsible for a whole range of materials to help promote the festival and keep the audience up to date. These included news items, blogs, artist interviews, website content, images and videos to highlight the festival’s economic, cultural, social and environmental impact. We also worked as media liaison managers and collaborated with sponsors in both the public and private sectors.


This year, Saturday and weekend tickets sold out early, with all Friday and Thursday tickets also snapped up the week the festival opened - making it the most successful ticket sales year in the festival’s history.


Using Social Media To Promote HebCelt


At a glance… 

Social media played a huge part in the promotion of the festival. System2 created a series of key messages to distribute via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Live videos were utilised to broadcast performances.


This year we wanted to increase the following on the Instagram channel. We used posts on Twitter and Facebook to encourage this and the HebCelt account following grew by 37%. Twitter saw an increase of 12% and Facebook 17%.


Followers were highly engaged with the HebCelt channels in the run up to and throughout the festival with almost 6K engagements via Twitter and 117.6K on Facebook. Live videos filmed during the festival allowed HebCelt fans unable to attend to follow events over the four days and collectively these have had 108,803 views so far.


“30% of fans who watch live videos of an event, attend that event in person the following year”


Unprecedented Press Coverage For This Year’s Hebcelt


141 pieces of coverage were generated across various local and nation media outlets in print and online with a readership of over 669M. The estimated coverage views were 3.4M and social shares of 10.5K.


BBC’s The One Show broadcasted live from the HebCelt as well as featuring the festival throughout the programme. The One Show has ratings of 5 million daily.


Award-Winning Event


After a fantastic festival in 2017, System2 worked closely with HebCelt to highlight its success and this was rewarded with five accolades in various awards events:


Working With System2


“Working with the team at System2 is like working with a bunch of your pals. Well they are for a start, but they are super responsive, know the festival, its clientele and team so well. They also take time to talk and discover things about the event or what we do that isn’t always immediately apparent as every year is different. It’s a real bonus for us to have them involved in our award-winning event. “


Caroline Maclennan, Festival Director


If you would like to find out how System2 can support your business or event contact us now.




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