Music in Britain and Ireland
Britain and Ireland have a rich heritage of music, from folk songs, through classical music, to pop genres such as rock, grime, and electronic music.
Scotland has a thriving music scene. Outdoor popular music festivals attract vast crowds and attract internationally-renowned live music acts. Scottish bands and musicians are also prominent, particularly those originating from in and around Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland. This city is home to a fantastic music scene; must-visit destinations include King Tut's Wah Wah Hut (where Oasis were spotted and signed for their first record deal).
Scottish folk music is also flourishing, with traditional and modern folk music sung in both English, Scottish Gaelic (and sometimes Scots). Folk music often features instruments such as fiddle/violin, acoustic guitar, harp, accordion, piano, various sorts of bagpipes, and other traditional instruments as well as voice. You may also encounter Scottish forms of dance which are also popular. This may range from simple, as at a ceilidh (pronounced "kay-lee", a mix of dances performed to traditional music and descended from ballroom and country dancing), to more complex Scottish Country Dancing which is a form of social dancing descended from renaissance dance styles, to solo Highland Dancing (which has a military heritage) if you go to a Highland Games. These styles exist alongside other popular forms of music and dance also found in other modern countries.
Wales is often referred to as "the land of song", and is notable for its harpists, male voice choirs, and plethora of solo artists like Charlotte Church. Cardiff has a big rock scene and has produced some of the biggest acts in the UK today. The principal Welsh festival of music and poetry is the annual National Eisteddfod. The Llangollen International Eisteddfod echoes the National Eisteddfod but provides an opportunity for the singers and musicians of the world to perform. Traditional music and dance in Wales is supported by a myriad of societies. The Welsh Folk Song Society has published a number of collections of songs and tunes.
Although England's Classical music tradition lags somewhat behind it's continental counterparts France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Russia, it has nevertheless produced several world-renowned composers such as Henry Purcell and Edward Elgar. Despite the relative lack of famous native-born English composers besides the aforementioned Purcell and Elgar, London has for over two centuries been an important city in the classical music circuit, with famous foreign composers such as George Frideric Handel (Georg Friedrich Händel), Johann Christian Bach, Joseph Haydn and Felix Mendelssohn having lived there or spent a significant amount of time there on tour.
- London; home to the Royal Albert Hall, and other world famous stages. Pretend to be one of the 'Fab Four' at the Abbey Road zebra crossing.
- Liverpool; hometown of the Beatles, the Beatles Story, the Beatles museum, Hard Days Night hotel, the Philharmonic Hall and the Cavern club.
phone: +44 151 519 0915address: Canada Boulevard, LiverpoolThe home since 2015 for the only permanent exhibition about British music.
- Dublin, home of world famous acts such as U2 and Westlife, and six-time host of the Eurovision Song Contest
- The Hebrides shouldn't need Mendelssohn's help to get you there, but if that's what it takes, you'll thank Mendelssohn.
phone: +353 1 417 0000address: Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2Offers classical concerts. Frequent performances by the resident orchestra, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra.
- Edinburgh International Festival and Festival Fringe - Edinburgh wide variety of music styles can be heard as part of a three week collection of arts festivals in August.
- Edinburgh Jazz Festival - Edinburgh week long festival in July.
Glastonbury Festivaladdress: GlastonburyJune. Even if it sells out the year before do not despair because there are many tickets returned and they will be available in the April before the festival. Typically it runs 3 out of every 4 years.
address: BrightonAn annual pop and dance extravaganza held late summer. Capacity 25,000.
address: LeedsLast weekend in August. Tickets: £180 for weekend (including camping & parking), or £75 for any day (no camping included) - rock and indie
address: UllapoolAn increasingly popular smaller rock music festival held by the beach in a small town in the Scottish Highlands.
- Reading Festival, Reading - last weekend in August. Tickets: £180 for weekend (including camping & parking), or £75 for any day (no camping included) - rock and indie
- Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts - Swansea - mid October - Tickets: concerts are paid for individually - classical and jazz - the second largest festival of its kind in the UK.
- Womad - Malmesbury, Wiltshire - late July. Tickets: £160 for weekend - music, art and dance
- World Pipeband Championships - Glasgow. One weekend in mid-August.
address: Lower Broadheath, WR2 6RHThe house where the great composer was born, a modern visitor centre and lovely cottage garden in beautiful countryside just outside Worcester City
address: 25 Brook St W1K 4HBHome to the baroque composer George Frideric Handel from 1723 until his death in 1759. Some of the greatest classical music ever composed was done so at this address. The museum charts Handel's life and works and offers recitals of music in the magnificent setting of the period rooms. By contrast, next door was home to Jimi Hendrix when he lived in London in 1969, and entry to this top floor flat is included.
address: 4 Clarence Rd, Cheltenham GL52 2AYThe Regency terrace house where Gustav Holst, composer of The Planets was born in 1874. Interesting both for the building and for the musical history.
phone: +44 20 7591-4300address: Prince Consort Rd, South Kensington, LondonSW7 2BSVictorian school of music created on a suggestion by Prince Albert. It is still an active school but visitors may be more interested in its museum and performances. The free museum houses instruments dating back to the 15th century with several unusual pieces. Performances—by students, professors or visitors—are often free as well.
phone: +44 20 8560-8108address: 399 High St, Brentford, West London TW8 0DUSomething of an undiscovered gem. The recently reopened museum houses a vast collection of working automatic musical instruments, from barrel organs to player pianos and beyond. Tours with knowledgeable and highly enthusiastic guides are highly recommended, as is the opportunity to listen to the Mighty Wurlitzer (which rises from the floor in the main auditorium). In addition to its function as a museum, the venue also hosts occasional cinema screenings of classic films (preceded by music from the Mighty Wurlitzer, or - in the case of silent film - accompanied by it) and houses a popular cafe with Thames views. Among the unusual (and hard-to-find) items usually available in the gift shop are clocks made from 78 rpm shellac discs, and original player piano rolls.
address: Edinburgh Old TownSt Cecilia's Hall is Scotland's oldest purpose-built concert hall and opened in 1763 which contains the University of Edinburgh collection of historic musical instruments (16th to 20th century) that focuses mostly on instruments no longer in use today. Concerts and other events take place in the concert room.
The Museum of Pipingaddress: National Piping Centre, 30-34 McPhater Street, GlasgowThe home of the bagpipes is in the former Cowcaddens Free Church. The museum shows 300 years of piping history, mainly showing Scottish bagpipes, but also showing Northumbrian pipes and some from Poland, Hungary, Italy and Spain. The piping centre also has a restaurant, an 8 room hotel and teaches piping.