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Colonsay: the small island thatís big on events and festivals

Colonsay: the small island thatís big on events and festivals
Colonsay is a beautiful Hebridean island sitting to the north of Islay and the west of Jura. It may be small - just 10 miles long by two miles wide – but it packs a big punch with incredible scenery, beautiful beaches, wonderful wildlife and some cracking places to eat and drink. Colonsay plays host to a remarkable number of events and festivals too, all celebrating the island’s landscape, rich history, culture, food and drink. Colonsay events and festivals are a great way to discover the island, meet the locals and have a great time.

Colonsay Book Festival (28th to 29th April 2018) is an absolute gem of an event. It’s one of the smallest and most remote book events in Britain, but attracts some of the biggest names in Scotland. This year Bella Bathurst, Ann Cleeves, Janice Galloway, John Glenday, A L Kennedy and Malachy Tallack are all booked to take part. Book your weekend pass (£50) online.

After two days on the beautiful island of Colonsay you’ll find it hard to leave. So why not stay on to enjoy Colonsay SpringFest (30th April to 20th May)? Come and enjoy three weeks of events and activities celebrating spring on Colonsay. Local artists, wild-food experts, plant enthusiasts, historians and archaeologists will take you on a journey of discovery. Visit the the RSPB reserve on Oronsay, forage for seaweed, visit some of the less well-known areas of the island and delve deep into its history. Alongside these outdoor activities, there will be loads of workshops including tapestry, bookbinding, printing, mosaic making, basketry and more. Take a look at the Colonsay SpringFest 2018 programme.

Sport is a big part of life on Colonsay too. Colonsay Rugby Festival (28th to 29th July) is a brilliant weekend of rugby, hosting around 12 men’s and women’s teams. The setting overlooking the beautiful beach of Machrines is simply stunning and there’s a legendary evening ceilidh. The Colonsay International Golf Open (18th to 19th August) is another great sporting event. This annual competition, which has been running for over 25 years, is challenging and entertaining. The Colonsay Golf Course is certainly one of the most beautiful courses in Scotland. The 18-hole golf course is a natural links course in a spectacular position by Machrins Bay.

In September, musicians and music fans flock to the island for Ceol Cholasa, Colonsay's Music Festival (12th to 16th September). This folky event has it all - friendly atmosphere, fantastic traditional music and truly beautiful surroundings. All festivals to date have been sell-outs and the list of artists who have appeared reads like a veritable ‘who’s who’ of Scottish folk music. This year Tidelines, The Young ‘Uns, Cara, Fara and Whyte are just some of the acts booked to take part. Although it attracts internationally acclaimed musicians, the atmosphere is wonderfully intimate. The local hotel also acts as the ‘Festival Club’, with live sessions into the wee hours. Book your Festival Pass (£80) online.

And finally to round off a fabulous year of festivals and events on Colonsay there’s the Colonsay Autumn Food & Drink Festival (10th to 24th October). Enjoy a veritable feast of food- and drink-related workshops and activities, including whisky, beer, gin and wine tastings, seasonal cookery classes, children's cooking and baking sessions, foraging and more.

As well as these key annual events, you’ll find a host of other ceilidhs, celebrations and gatherings throughout the year. Keep an eye on the Visit Colonsay events page.

Getting to Colonsay
The CalMac ferry to Colonsay runs five times a week (in winter three times) from Oban and there’s an additional summer service from Kennacraig via Islay. Unless you really need it, why not leave your car behind? Colonsay is a brilliant island for cycling and bikes go free on the ferry. Hebridean Air Services also operates scheduled flights from Oban to Colonsay.

Where to stay on Colonsay
There’s a good choice of holiday accommodation on Colonsay, but it does get booked up over festival periods. As well as self-catering accommodation, there is the Backpackers Lodge and the Colonsay Hotel.

Find out more about things to see and do on Islay, Jura & Colonsay.

Photo: Colonsay SpringFest by Sarah Hobhouse
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