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Badenoch: great place, great festival!

By Tom Ramage

Badenoch's great festival is under way.

The first of its kind across the region, it got off to a perfect start on Friday night (September 6) with a rousing turnout at Kingussie's Talla nan Ros and a welcome from the "Badenoch Great Place" team who have lined up a huge variety or events over the next fortnight.

Rallying at Ruthven Barracks: some of the Badenoch team
Rallying at Ruthven Barracks: some of the Badenoch team

The free evening of local music, heritage displays and living history included some very special young guests from Kingussie and Newtonmore Primary Schools.

The talented youngsters opened the festival with special performances of songs close to the hearts of the two communities.

Local resident Michael Slaney accompanied two pupils from Newtonmore Primary School in reciting Gaelic verse and the evening continued with performances from Badenoch Waulking Group and The Badenoch Fiddlers.

The new festival is organised by the Badenoch Great Place Project (BGPP) team, in collaboration with local heritage group, Badenoch Heritage, and lead partners Voluntary Action in Badenoch & Strathspey and Cairngorms National Park Authority.

A total of 17 days of festival events are intended to be a major part of the positive developments brought about by the BGPP partnership. The new festival is building on the great success in previous years of the Kingussie Heritage Festival.

This year the Badenoch Festival is even more ambitious, involving over 15 different organisations helping to deliver around 60 heritage-themed events taking place this September across the historic region.

A new Badenoch Festival Working Group includes organisations and individuals from Dalwhinnie, Kincraig, Kingussie, Laggan and Newtonmore.

Over the last 6 months the BGPP Project Officer has worked with the group to set up a packed schedule of walks, talks, cycling, storytelling, music and exhibitions, for visitors and locals to enjoy. The aim is to “showcase the very best that local heritage has to offer”. Attendance at the majority of the events will involve paying a ticket fee, though some walks and events are free like the launch on the 6th.

Mairi Brown, Vice-Chair of Badenoch Heritage told the Strathy“We are totally thrilled to see our local heritage festival in Kingussie grow into such a wonderful regional event for all Badenoch’s communities to have a role in. This is all thanks to loads of hard work from the Badenoch Great Place Project team and all the amazing support we’ve had from our new local collaborators.”

Helping support the events programme will be the BGPP’s first in-take of Badenoch Ambassadors, volunteers who came forward from the local community to help with the project, share their knowledge and learn more about heritage and tourism along the way.

The first ambassadors are Nigel Buxton (Newtonmore), Sheila MacKay (Newtonmore), Isabel Duncan (Kingussie) and John Robertson (Kingussie).

Dr. Oliver O’Grady, Project Officer for the Badenoch Great Place Project said: “An important aim of the Badenoch Festival is to attract new visitors to the area, but first and foremost this is a community-minded festival. I am really pleased to be getting such dedicated help from our amazing local volunteers – the Badenoch Ambassadors. It’s a great opportunity for any volunteer.”

The team will be sharing their local knowledge and supporting events at local venues like the Laggan Coffee Bothy, Wolftrax, Dalwhinnie Community Hall and Iona Gallery as well as at bigger attractions such as Dalwhinnie Distillery, Highland Folk Museum and the Highland Wildlife Park. BGPP will be putting out another call for more volunteers to join the project during the festival.

See the Badenoch Great Place Project Facebook and Eventbrite pages for more details and how to book.

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