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Festival People

Dedicated festival volunteer comes all the way from Sweden to help out

Maria Lindberg

Three years ago Maria Lindberg from Sweden came to her first Hebridean Celtic Festival to see headline band Runrig. This year, just as she did two years ago, she was part of the festival's invaluable and hard-working team of volunteers who make the whole event possible. A chemist in the nuclear waste industry, she was busy every morning at the children's workshops. Maria, 38, who comes from Nyköping, near Stockholm, only came to the 2000 festival to see Runrig but loved the whole event so much she has returned twice - and is already planning her trip next year.

Her vote as this year's festival highlight went to the opening concert in Studio Alba, Andy Thorburn's Atlantic Women project. Similarly, in 2001, her favourite act was Cliar, who also played the studio on the Wednesday night.

Thousands may have made the Waterboys a sell-out on Friday, but it is the more traditional music which brings Maria back time and time again, proving that the festival never fails to deliver something for everyone. She said: "I've just been to buy a second CD by Cliar because I wore the first one out. They were the definite highlight last year and this year the ladies were beautiful. "The highlight the first year was of course Runrig. It was the first time I'd been up to the front and it was fascinating to have a good look at the band members, to see how they act together and act with the music when they are playing." Maria, who admitted she was unmoved by any type of fusion Celtic music, also gave her thumbs up to Mike McGoldrick on Friday night. She said: "I've seen the rest, but there's a special kind of feeling and a special kind of air with the more acoustic. "I like the more traditional music, not fused or mixed with other cultures. That's not my cup of tea. "I'll listen to it and see, but if it doesn't fit, I'll go home."

For Maria, another, less orthodox festival highlight was an impromptu tour of the fledgling but prize-winning Hebridean Brewing Company, who created our special festival beer, Festivale.

So what was her verdict on this year's experience? "It's been great - meeting old friends and making new friends. "It's hard to say which was the best part. There's really good parts in all of the festivals. The first year I also tried the Gaelic language taster sessions and that was funny. I had a really good time." She proudly added: "I can say 'my name is Maria' and 'I'm from Sweden'. Is mise Maria. Tha mi a Sweden."

Maria believes the advent of Sunday flights have made the festival a lot more accessible for those who have to be back at their desks on the Monday morning. "That makes a big difference," she said. "Before, people would fly out on Saturday because they couldn't get out on Sunday." Planes are definitely Maria's favoured mode of transport and the next time she arrives in the Outer Hebrides, a landing on the famous beach strip on Barra and a road trip through the Uists will be built into her festival experience. Ferries are definitely out of the question. "I'm not a boat person - I don't like to feed the fishes. I want to keep my breakfast."

by Katie Smith

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