Home   News   Article

Belladrum festival’s countdown moments

By Margaret Chrystall

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
The Hot House stage in 2022, becoming the main arena stage this year in the sun. Picture: James Mackenzie
The Hot House stage in 2022, becoming the main arena stage this year in the sun. Picture: James Mackenzie

You do well to catch up with Belladrum event producer Dougie Brown in the 23 hours run-up to the festival opening its doors on Thursday morning.

Luckily he was out and about though he hints he may have been awake a lot earlier still.

“There are about a million different things you wake up with in your head with your brain rattling at 5 o’clock in the morning – and it’s always the same. In a panic, trying to make sure you have done everything on your list.

“But I think it is the same every year, and to be fair the festival site is looking amazing and it is all feeling very positive. So it is just getting our heads down now and completing all the little touches we want to be perfect before opening tomorrow.”

Like any other festival, Belladrum has had its share of challenges to face in 2023.

There are still some two-day and Saturday-only tickets left. Almost every year has been a sell-out.

But it is close – and on the bright side – literally – the weather is looking more positive than it had been suggesting last weekend.

Dougie said: “It’s highly likely we will have rain at some point in the weekend.

Belladrum event producer Dougie Brown. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Belladrum event producer Dougie Brown. Picture: Callum Mackay.

“But it is also highly likely that we will have some form of sunshine and the usual taste of four seasons of Scottish weather in one 15-minute period!” he laughed.

“The site is looking amazing and everyone has been taking extra care of driving round after the bit of rain last week and I think we are pretty proud of how it is looking given some of the rain we have had.”

Like every festival, Belladrum has made some changes this year, adapting to audience feedback and also planning ahead.

Last year, the public verdict seemed to be that the Verb Garden, where spoken word and you get one-off major artist interviews – this year local star Katie Gregson-MacLeod will feature – felt a little out of place and far away in the Walled Garden.

It will be found back closer to the heart of the festival beside the food outlets this year.

The festival producer said: “We’ve moved the Verb Garden back to its spiritual home and have a lot of exciting things happening in there this year and when people come and find it there it will be amazing.

“Also the Walled Garden has got loads of things happening in there too this year, so you could lose yourself for half a day there this year!”

But the most noticeable change for most this year will be the transformation of the Hot House stage into the main arena.

It now takes over from the former Italian Garden at the Garden Stage to host the headlining acts and offer a little more capacity.

Dougie said: “I’ve just come back from a walk down to the Hot House and the arena looks amazing. We have all had some of the same concerns the audience have that the Garden Stage is so iconic and so Bella changing that is a worry. But at the same time we felt like the Hot House arena for the main stage is stunning. It is still very special and essential Bella and we have a couple of touches to it to make it clear – which people will see!” he said.

“And the Garden Stage still has a big outdoor stage in it and still looks incredible and I think people will really enjoy the lay-out.

“As well as the main stage, it is all the extra little areas that a lot of care and attention has gone into this year. And we want people to get around and explore all the areas of the site this year.”

Dougie – a musician himself with a long history in local bands – has his own wishlist, not surprisingly. Though the full-on nature of the festival role means it might be hard to fulfill!

So who will he be trying to catch?

“Probably my wife and children I’ll try and catch if I can!” he joked, before reeling off some of the acts he’d love to see this year.

“Punk Rock Factory, Rachel Sermanni, Sigrid, Blood Harmony ­– and Kiefer Sutherland,” he mentions, for anyone wanting some top tips.

And with the theme this year being cartoons …?

“I’m hoping to get all the staff to dress up on Saturday, so I’ve got my costume.”

Lips sealed. Zoinks.

Related: American musician from legendary songwriting family joins Belladrum bill

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More