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Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail (The Royal National Mòd) kicks off its return to the Western Isles with a sensational opening ceremony featuring headline performances by Dàimh and the Mischa Macpherson Trio.  

Taking place in Stornoway for the first time since 2011, Scotland’s biggest Gaelic Cultural Festival will see a nine-day spectacular of Gaelic music, arts and sport take place from Friday 14th – Saturday 22nd October.

Last year’s event generated close to £3m for host town, Oban and Argyll, and organisers are confident they will have a similar impact on the Western Isles known for its strong community spirit. The opening day of this year’s festival kicks off with the traditional torchlight procession, led by the Lewis Pipe Band, which sees hundreds of people weave through the streets of Stornoway in breathtaking scenes.

The procession then ends at the Lewis Sports Centre where the opening ceremony takes place, with performances by local acts the Mischa Macpherson Trio and ‘Gaelic supergroup’, Dàimh, who were crowned Folk Band of the Year at the 2015 Scots Trad Music Awards. 

Organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, the oldest and most respected national Gaelic organisation, the Mòd is the most important festival of the Gaelic language in Scotland.  It sees thousands of competitors from Scotland and across the world, including Germany and Abu Dhabi, take part or watch over 200 competitions in highland dancing, sport, literature and drama, as well as Gaelic music and song.

Alongside the main competition, The Mòd Fringe will run a bustling programme filled with traditional music, unique poetry, numerous concerts and art forms of every description.

John Morrison, Chief Executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said; “The Western Isles has always given The Mòd a warm welcome, so we’re thrilled to be returning after 5 years. We’ve received a tremendous amount of entries for this year’s competitions and we know there will be some amazing talent to see. The Mòd is a huge highlight in Scotland’s cultural calendar, attracting Gaels and non-Gaels from across the world to celebrate our diverse range of events and competitions.  We’re delighted to have the Mischa Macpherson Trio and Dàimh play at this year’s opening ceremony, setting the tone for what will be a tremendous Royal National Mòd 2016.”

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Convener and Chair of the Mod nan Eilean Siar local organising committee, Norman A MacDonald, said: “With only a month to go until the Mòd begins with the torchlight parade through Stornoway followed by the opening ceremony at the Lewis Sports Centre, preparations are at an advanced stage and we are confident that we have everything in place to host a highly successful Mòd. The Royal National Mòd brings huge economic benefits to the area at a time when the peak tourism season has more or less come to an end. The Comhairle has been, and remains, committed to supporting and promoting the Gaelic language throughout the islands.

“It is, of course, highly appropriate that the Mòd should return to the Western Isles as the whole ethos and thrust of the Mòd is to showcase and celebrate our rich language and culture. Gaelic is still the community language of the Islands and I would reiterate that Mòd attendees are assured of a genuine Hebridean welcome in the Western Isles next month when we will mark the 125th anniversary of the founding of An Comunn Gàidhealach.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “The Royal National Mòd is an important celebration of Scotland’s cultural heritage and we are delighted to support the event through EventScotland’s International Programme as it prepares for another jam-packed schedule in Stornoway.

“The festival is a unique opportunity for the Gaelic-speaking community from Scotland and further afield to come together to enjoy music, song, highland dancing, drama and much more, and we look forward to the start of the 2016 Mod in one month’s time.”

Marketing Manager at CalMac, Peter Griffiths, said: “Of all the events we lend our support to across the west coast the Mòd is one of the closest to our hearts. It captures the very essence of the culture and history of the communities we support and we are very proud to offer our continuing support and are looking forward to catching up with old friends and making some new ones.”