Rousing final fling for Loopallu Festival

Loopallu festival has one last fling as it bows out. Bombskare on stage.
Photos credit: Paul Campbell.

Revellers enjoyed a rousing final fling as the curtain came down on the Loopallu festival in Ullapool last weekend.

After 15 years organisers have called time on the two-day event, which has annually attracted around 2,500 music-lovers to the Wester Ross village.

Site constraints and a shortage of accommodation have influenced the decision to bring the festival to an end, despite regular sell-out audiences.

The honour of closing the event on Saturday fittingly went to Hunter and the Bear, an act with Wester Ross roots making their seventh appearance on the Loopallu stage.

Before that crowds had been entertained by performances from acts including island favourites the Vatersay Boys and Peat and Diesel as well as the Rezillos, Astrid and Neon Waltz.

After Idlewild, ONR and Bombskare had all been on stage it was left to Tidelines to headline proceedings on Friday night.

A host of stellar names, as well as up-and-coming local acts, have performed at the festival since it was established in 2005.

Paolo Nutini, the Fratellis, Jake Bugg, Mumford and Sons, and the Stranglers are among those to have featured on the Loopallu stage.

The festival had looked like it would end in 2016, but public demand forced a rethink and the event moved venue to a new site on Ullapool’s pier.

Editorial: Farewell Loopallu for now

Loopallu festival has one last fling as it bows out. Peat and Diesel on stage at Loopallu.

Word can spread quickly in the west Highlands Ð and the tag of ‘best-kept secret’ is one that rarely lasts.

So it has proved for the Loopallu festival, which has bowed out after 15 memorable years of great music in thriving Ullapool.

The festival had its origins in an idea to bring an autumnal buzz to the village, and since the inaugural event in 2005 thousands of revellers have flocked to Wester Ross each September.

Loopallu has brought acts like Paulo Nutini, Mumford and Sons, Jake Bugg and The Stranglers to the northwest Highlands – but it seems as if the weekend bonanza, and the village it helped to showcase, has become a victim of its own success.

While Loopallu used to help fill guest houses, bars and restaurants as trade was tailing off for the winter, now festivalgoers find it increasingly difficult to book accommodation as the tourism season stretches further and further into the year.

Two years ago the festival moved venue but, while the new site at Ullapool’s pier allowed the event to continue, the lack of camping facilities constrained accommodation options further for the 2,500 music fans who annually snapped up tickets.

Organisers, reluctantly, have decided that last weekend’s event – headlined by Tidelines, Hunter and the Bear and Peat and Diesel – will be the last.

There are hints a new type of festival might emerge in the coming years, as Ullapool’s popularity as a weekend destination will endure.

But having earned its place in the hearts and memories of the thousands who’ve enjoyed it, Loopallu can pass on its ‘best-kept secret’ baton with some satisfaction.

And we wait with interest to see which enterprising Highland community moves to fill the void in the festival calendar.