Are you looking to immerse yourself in local culture and listen to some brilliant Scottish music on your trip to the Highlands? Here are our top places to find great live music in Inverness.
A brilliant place to start is Hootananny’s, or Hoots as it’s commonly known by locals. This award-winning live music venue hosts a popular folk session every Sunday to Thursday night, and lively folk bands perform here every weekend, entertaining both locals and visitors alike. You could easily enjoy a pint of fine Scottish ale and some toe-tapping music here, almost every day of the week!
If you are looking for something a little less tourist-oriented then look no further than the legendary Gellions Bar (pronounced Gellons). They are the home of top Inverness folk band Schiehallion, and also regularly feature Highland favourites’, Caman. Also, in the same vein is the Market Bar (author’s note – the music bar is upstairs!) which is where top Scottish band the Proclaimers were, “discovered”, back in the day. They are a great choice for those wanting a change from folk music.
Eden Court Theatre, superbly located on the banks of the River Ness, is another great venue which attracts high-class traditional bands almost every month. During September, the theatre is the hub of the popular Blas Music Festival which celebrates Gaelic music and culture. The festival welcomes many fantastic folk bands and Gaelic singers from throughout Scotland, who come here to perform as well as in various rural venues across the Highlands.
The Tooth and Claw is an alternative live music venue, which offers a variety of gigs from acoustic folk to rock and even bluegrass. In 2016, the bar fought off stiff competition from over 200 venues around the UK to claim the top prize in the PSR Music Makeover award. Since then, this intimate venue has attracted touring artists, from both here in the UK and across the world, to perform in the Highland capital. Expect good beer and, of course, entertaining live music! Look out for local metal act Slioch!
The Ironworks has been a staple live music venue in Inverness for the last decade, attracting an eclectic mix of bands from talented local groups to bigger names like: Van Morrison, Paulo Nutini and Runrig. If you are in Inverness, it is certainly worth checking their programme to see what’s coming up!
MacGregor’s Bar is the new kid on the block, having just opened last year, but it has quickly gained a reputation for fantastic live music and impromptu sessions. The bar is hosted by legendary fiddler Bruce MacGregor, of Blazin’ Fiddles fame, and has an upbeat atmosphere (and great burgers!). We’d also highly recommend their Highland Malt Whisky Experience. This twice-weekly event is hosted either by Bruce, or by talented local folk singer and well-kent face Davy Holt . It offers a unique evening of single malt whisky tasting and history, accompanied by carefully selected tunes sang and played live by Davy or Bruce. Not to be missed!!
Walking down Inverness High Street may seem like an unusual place to find good Highland music, but throughout the summer months you are sure to find a talented local piper, dressed in a tartan kilt, and playing great Highland tunes to entertain passers-by. You may also be fortunate enough to see the full Inverness British Legion pipe band perform on a Tuesday night,along with local Highland dancers in their colourful tartan kilts.
Last but not least, don’t forget our great festivals. The Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival is a highlight of the local calendar and one of the most family friendly music festivals around. We also have the Red Hot Highland Fling at New Year’s, one of the greatest Hogmanay Parties in the world and its free to enter too!
With so many fantastic live music venues (and of course talented locals!) in the Highland capital, there is always an opportunity to experience some of the best Scottish music in Inverness. Enjoy!