Described as one of the most stunning and remote festival locations in the world, Tiree is my favourite of the Hebridean islands and also home to my favourite event of the year.
This year Tiree Music Festival celebrated it’s 10th birthday, and it was a weekend I will never forget. The sun was shining from the second we got off the ferry until an hour before we left to go home and the line up was formed of all my favourite bands; Manran, Trail West, Niteworks, Skerryvore, and so on! We spent every day in the sea and had such a good time camping we ended up staying an extra few nights after the festival ended.
If TMF is on your festival list for next summer, I’m here to share some useful info and tips before you go…
How to get there
The island adventure begins in Oban harbour, where hundreds of festival go-ers board the 4 hour ferry to Tiree. Although 4 hours sounds like a long stretch, this is really where the festival begins with dancing, drinking and music.
When you arrive on Tiree you are greeted immediately by white sandy beaches and turquoise water at Gott Bay. From the ferry terminal, it’s over an hours walk to the festival site – so it’s best to jump on the TMF shuttle bus which is £8 (return). Alternatively you can take your own car or bike over on the ferry with you, or hire a car from MacLennan Motors or bikes from Tiree Fitness and Blackhouse Bike Rental.
The festival site itself is spectacular; the main campsite and arena is sandwiched between two beautiful beaches… not to mention the family and glamping areas that are right on the shore with unspoilt views.
Things to remember before you enter the festival
- You pass the Co-op and local shop on your way to the festival, so stop off on your way. Both places are really well stocked throughout the whole weekend.
- You can’t bring any kind of glass into the campsite, including perfume. Remember to decant all your alcohol into plastic.
- There is no ATM on Tiree, but you can get cash back at the Co-op. Alternatively you can get cash back from the TMF merchandise tent when you buy.
- There are great food stalls inside the arena, but you may also want to bring a small gas stove to cook on. There are cooking areas within the campsite.
- Phone signal is fairly scarce on Tiree, unless you are with EE. If you need to stay in contact with the rest of the world, i’d recommend buying a pay as you go sim for the weekend.
- There is phone charging available onsite (£2 per hour), but also a good idea to bring a battery pack.
- To use the showers onsite you need to pick up a token from the TMF office (£2)
- Tiree is also known for getting pretty windy, make sure you tent is robust enough and have enough pegs to put all your guy lines out!
- There are water refill stations onsite, so no need to buy bottled water before you come.
What to expect at the festival
Tiree Music Festival is a haven for Scottish trad music, supporting both new and established bands and musicians from all around the country. I’m fairly sure someone went onto my Spotify and just booked all my favourite bands for the line up this year, I couldn’t have been more excited for the music at TMF10. Even for those who aren’t overly familiar with Scottish music, the festival will have you dancing and singing like never before!
One of the nicest things about TMF is the encouragement of all ages to come and enjoy the weekend. The festival is completely family friendly with a creative programme for young people and their families, including workshops, sport, music and culture.
The TMF10 celebrations kicked off on the Thursday night with music from Rhuvaal and Jam Sandwich. Unfortunately I missed the Thursday party, and it’s Wild Wild West dress up theme – which was a shame as I was JUST home from Colorado and even had a cowboy hat at the ready.
Friday night was my favourite of the weekend, with music from Manran and Trail West in the big tent, and Heron Valley on the Elevate stage (outdoors). I urge anyone who’s unfamiliar with these bands to have a listen! Saturday brought us some reinvented celtic-rock from Face the West and all our favourite west coast tunes from Tide Lines. The weekend went out with an incredible Sunday line up of Niteworks, Skerryvore and The TMF All Star Ceilidh Band which was full of surprises! There were of course many many other brilliant bands and musicians performing throughout the weekend – you can see the full 2019 line up here TMF10 Line Up.
Things to bring
- Swimming stuff & towel
- Battery pack
- Suncream & hat (Tiree is the sunniest place in the UK… usually)
- Waterproofs… just incase
- Refillable water bottle
- Snacks & supplies
- EE sim card (I’ve heard vodafone works in some spaces too)
- Gas stove/Jetboil for campsite/beach cooking
- Cash for food and drink inside the arena
- Tent & camping chair
- Sleeping bag & mat
I would also urge everyone to explore the rest of the island, theres heaps of activities to get stuck into and beautiful places to see. Theres sea tours, surfing (wetsuits and boards available to hire at Balevullin), windsurfing, walking, cycling and lots of marine and wildlife to see. It’s totally worth hiring a bike/car or just hitching lifts to see the whole of the island.
To see more from TMF10 visit my Instagram Highlight ‘TMF 10’ to hear some music and to see what we got upto everyday @ronamcmillan.