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Celtic Connections, Scotland's biggest traditional music festival, kicks off in Glasgow next Thursday with a programme which includes eight free concerts for schools. These run until January 29 and last for an hour and 20 minutes in the Royal Concert Hall, starting at 11am.

The shows for nursery to P3, scheduled for January 20 and 27, are fully booked but the festival's education and outreach manager, Tom Dalzell, says there could still be availability for some of the other concerts, catering for P4 to S2-6, up to 24 hours before the show.

The free concerts include "La Bottine Souriante", described as a "10-piece party machine" from Quebec and Bodega, a young GaelicEnglish band whose members met at Plockton High's National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music.

As well as the concerts, the education programme will deliver workshops in 40 nursery, primary and special needs schools during the festival, where pupils will take part in traditional music, dancing and story-telling sessions, led by 12 specialist tutors.

"The workshops are limited to schools in the Glasgow area, but the concerts are available to all schools as well as home-school pupils. Last year, a school from Tiree travelled down to the festival," says Mr Dalzell. "In addition to the workshops and concerts, we run a number of longer-term projects in Glasgow, particularly in special needs schools. This year we had great successes in Hazlewood School for pupils with hearing and visual impairment and in Croftcroighn School where pupils were ceilidh dancing in their wheelchairs."

www.celticconnections.comeducation; T: 0141 353 8022.

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