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Eden Court's Under Canvas tour gears up for last few Highland-wide dates

By Margaret Chrystall

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The Eden Court Under Canvas Across The Highlands tour has hit the road this summer with final dates coming up this week.

Sir Ian McKellen dropped in at Under Canvas when his one-man show visited Eden Court in 2019.
Sir Ian McKellen dropped in at Under Canvas when his one-man show visited Eden Court in 2019.

The tour has been setting up stretch tents across the region to offer music, entertainment and engagement activities until next Saturday (July 31).

Under Canvas is Eden Court’s flagship outdoor summer festival of music. Its reputation as the go-to summer destination for locals and tourists alike was consolidated in its second year, when it was nominated for Event of the Year at the 2019 MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.

As the 2021 festival takes up residence at Eden Court across three months this summer, the organisation simultaneously launched a touring version throughout July.

Having begun life in 2018, this is the first time the festival will be delivered outwith Inverness to our rural communities.

Under Canvas Across The Highlands, delivered in partnership with Highland Council as part of the Summer of Hope, has visited Tain, Wick, Fort William and Ullapool, with Kyleakin, Ballachulish and Strontian still to come this week.

Eden Court’s engagement team has been on the road, working with local schools and agencies to identify the children and young people who would most benefit from creative sessions during the summer holidays.

The tent has been packed full of fun, and it was designed as a relaxed space for the young people in these communities to explore their creativity –whether filmmaking or crafting and as the evenings draw in, the tent hosts music, food and drink.

Throughout the tour audiences have been enjoying the Under Canvas house band, featuring musicians Ruairidh Gollan, Megan MacDonald and Calum McIlroy. Local guest artists were booked to perform alongside the house band at every stop along the way, including Malin Lewis, Anna Massie, Ali Levack, Ingrid Henderson and Iain Macfarlane, with more guests and surprises too.

There are two sessions per evening, one at 6pm and one at 8pm, lasting for 90 minutes each. Table service will ensure the comfort and safety of audiences and there will be delicious wood-fired pizzas, made fresh on site. Audiences can secure tickets to sessions from 6pm to 7.30pm and from 8pm-9.30pm. The event is free with a £5 reservation fee per person that will secure a table and be redeemable against food or drinks bills at the end of every session. Tickets are now on sale for the remaining tour dates:

Kyleakin: the green outside the Village Hall, Kyleakin, Skye (Saturday July 24)

Ballachulish: (Tuesday and Wednesday, July 27 and 28)

Strontian: Show Ground (Friday and Saturday, July 30 and 31)

At the launch of the tour, Eden Court chief executive officer, James Mackenzie-Blackman said: “Eden Court was founded as the arts venue for all the people of the Highlands.

"Touring Under Canvas to every corner of the region is testament that we take these founding principles very seriously.

"I couldn’t wait to set up our tent, deliver fantastic opportunities for children and young people to enjoy a summer of play and to host the very best Scottish musicians for audiences.

"We’ll see you on the road!”

Eden Court is pleased to have the Highland Council’s support to reach young people in communities this summer.

Chair of the education committee, Councillor John Finlayson said: “Covid 19 has impacted on important milestones for socialisation and wellbeing for many of our children and young people. Therefore, this work by council officers in conjunction with our many partners to plan for activities for pupils over the summer will go a long way to help build and sustain improved wellbeing during this time and in preparation for the new school session.”

Eden Court’s head of engagement, Lucy McGlennon said: “We’re genuinely so excited to be hitting the road this summer. It feels like it’s been a long time coming.

"We really believe that creative experiences are exactly what’s needed this summer, and on top of that, I can’t wait to stop by my Mum’s for a cup of tea on our way to Kyleakin.”

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