We have just returned home to Speyside from a wonderful weekend of street entertainment and almost non-stop live music ~ all part of the now annual St. Andrew's Festival weekend.
St Andrew's is such a bonnie, welcoming town at any time, with it's quaint historic buildings, cobbles, archways and wee closes producing a wonderful Olde-Worlde feel. It's lovely town centre, unsullied by massive, fluorescent supermarkets or plastic shop-fronts, is made particularly attractive to locals and tourists alike by the tasteful plethora of lovely eating places and independent, well appointed, pretty shops of quality ~ well stocked, offering something for everyone.
However, the town's-folks certainly let their hair down in celebration of its patron Saint during the weekend leading up to St Andrew's Day ~ 30th November. As well as daytime entertainment, on the Friday and Saturday evenings there was fantastic entertainment for all in a large marquee erected on the lawn of St Andrews very own Hogwarts School ~ Madras College. (I hear tell the present headteacher comes complete with beard; dark, flowing robes and, at his castle in Strathkinness, has several cats ~including at least one black one!)
The Friday evening musical line-up included the local 'Black Sheep Band', followed by the very energetic red hot Chilly Pipers ~ complete with their line-up of world class pipers and drummers. On Saturday evening, following the 6pm switching on of the Christmas lights, the parade round the town centre was led by the excellent Madras College pipe band. Thereafter, the wonderful three piece Sandy Smith Ceilidh band had the temporary tent-flooring flexing with hordes of energetic dancers dashing as white sergeants and stripping willows.
Great to see so many young people, especially students ~ many from abroad ~ keen to take part. Some were doing 'their own thing', whilst others, keen to learn, were being gently coached by fellow dancers. The marquee was to capacity for the grand finale ~ a massive 'Orcadian Strip the Willow'. A very entertaining blue grass band comprising 5 enthusiastic University lecturers and professors then paved the way for the famous Skye-based 'Scot-Rock' group the Peat-Bog Faeries.
All in all a great weekend, including two nights of wonderful live entertainment. The St. Andrews Festival weekend is well worth putting in your diary for next year ~ by all accounts this festival will be even bigger and better in 2012.