Barbados Celtic Festival 17th – 21st May 2023 is jam packed with fun and exciting live events for all to attend. Executed on a smaller scale in 2022 whilst Covid restrictions on gatherings and social events were still in place, the 2023 Barbados Celtic Festival is set to return with a mass of colourful kilts swaying, lots of excitement and melodies filling the air.

The 2023 festival is set to keep the bar high with performances from both Roddy MacLeod MBE (5 times World Champion Piper), and Alexis MacIssac and Calum MacKenzie (Nominees in the Canadian Folk Music Awards and East Coast Music Awards) whose duo showcases unique Cape Breton piano playing with a modern approach to Celtic fiddle. GNOSS, a folk-four piece from Scotland who blend traditional instruments with electronic elements to create energetic, exciting, and original performances, will also feature at the festival, as well as a stunning amalgamated choir from Wales named Côr Caru B (pronounced Core carry Be) led by Mike Thomas MBE. 

Côr is Welsh for Choir, Caru means love and the B is for Barbados, so “The Welsh Choir that loves Barbados”. Gleadhraich, a bagpipe rock act (also from Scotland) who perform around the world and are just back from their headline spot at the prestigious New York Tartan Week Post-Parade Party will also show off their musical talents in Barbados. 

Jeana Leslie, Director of the Barbados Celtic Festival, announced: “I am delighted to be bringing the festival back to Barbados with live and authentic Celtic events. We are working closely with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc in London to promote the festival and encourage new visitors to the island.

“We expect approximately 150 participants this year.  With a choir from Wales who will perform in several events and a host of pipers and drummers from England, Scotland, Finland, Sweden, USA and Canada who have all booked their holidays to come and perform in our big street parade planned for Saturday 20th May. The parade will incorporate all entertainers marching through Bridgetown alongside festival partners, the Barbados Defence Force Band and The Band of The Barbados Police Service. It is a great fusion of music and culture – with the Bajan bands and visiting pipers and drummers having shared traditional music with each other and, amalgamating to perform pipe band numbers along with the Bajan traditional tunes and calypso numbers too. The Barbados Defence Band played in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland in the 1990s and they hope to return to Scotland in the future to repeat this.”

In 2022, Jim Murty (Daily Record and Sunday Mail), Corrie David (Wales Online), & Luke Clancy (RTÉ, Sounds Doable and Lyric FM) accompanied by Michael Collins MD of TravelMedia, attended the festival. You can hear about their experiences below.

Jim Murty:

Corrie David:

Luke Clancy:

In previous years, various acts performed during the festival, including BRIT award winner, Eddi Reader, the Peatbog Faeries, Hamish Stuart from the original Average White Band who played live in Barbados in 2018, and BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winner Jeana Leslie, who is the new director of the festival, and her band FARA from Orkney.

The festival dates back to the 1990s, when Welsh woman Ruth Williams brought her father’s Welsh choir to the island to perform a moving concert. At the last live festival in 2019, the Gwalia Singers Male Voice Choir and their partners and families, from Swansea in Wales travelled over as the first Welsh Choir to come back to the island. They performed at the Walled Garden Theatre at Barbados Museum. It is a privilege that Côr Caru B can join the festival this year.

There are many historical Celtic connections between Barbados and the Celtic countries of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Nova Scotia and parts of northern Europe where Celtic history is strong.

Director Leslie continued: ““It is heartening that several of our pipers and drummers are returning every year to have a holiday here in the wonderful surroundings of Barbados and taking part in our live events.” 

“This year we will culminate the street parade at Blakey’s on the Boardwalk late Saturday afternoon and into the evening – Where there will be a full programme of events. I am also delighted that we have several local schools and music groups taking part in the festival this year. It will be a bit of a hoolie – some live music, singing and dancing. It’s one not to be missed!” 

You can find out more about the Barbados Celtic Festival on the official Facebook and Instagram, or the website