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Early bird tickets for the 2016 Hebridean Celtic Festival have sold out in record time after organisers announced Scottish rock legends Runrig will headline the event.

Several hundred advance weekend tickets, held at last year’s rates, were snapped up by fans from across the world within hours of going on sale last week. Hundreds more were made available and have also now been sold, making it the biggest and fastest sale of early bird tickets in HebCelt’s history.

But those fans not so quick off the mark can still book their place at the award-winning festival. Regular weekend tickets for HebCelt 2016, covering the main arena (Thursday – Saturday) are now available at http://www.hebceltfest.com/booking.

Further announcements will be made next week on the festival line-up and day tickets will go on sale in the New Year when the full programme is confirmed.

The 21st HebCelt will be held from 13-16 July in Stornoway in the island of Lewis. It was confirmed last week that Runrig will close the ‘coming of age’ celebrations on Saturday, 16 July during the nationwide tour in support of their 14th – and last – studio album, The Story, which is released in January.

The news drew a huge and immediate response with music fans from across the UK and Europe and as far afield as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand ensuring their attendance next summer.

Some 85 per cent of the advance tickets have been bought off-island, again highlighting HebCelt’s incredible popularity and international appeal.

Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: “The response to the advance tickets sale has been phenomenal. We started getting enquiries immediately they went on sale and they just kept coming. We had to increase the allocation because of demand and they sold out as well.

“I think the romantic notion of seeing Runrig in such a unique setting in the Gaelic heartland is a big draw for the fans.”

A complete trip and tickets package can be arranged via festival partner Hebridean Hopscotch Holidays. Deals include three nights’ accommodation at the Caladh Inn, in Stornoway, main arena weekend tickets for the festival, plus foot passenger ferry tickets from Ullapool, for £299 per person. A package including return air travel between Inverness and Stornoway is priced £449 pp – Further information at http://www.hebrideanhopscotch.com

The 2016 visit will be Runrig’s fourth appearance at HebCelt and the band are also honoured in the festival’s Hall of Fame for their outstanding contribution to Celtic music.

They said HebCelt is as close as it gets to coming home and, therefore, there could be no more fitting place to include on their forthcoming tour.

Last year, HebCelt marked its 20th anniversary by hosting its biggest number of live performances ever with more than 50 hours of music and arts events staged in the main arena in the grounds of Lews Castle, as well as an Lanntair arts centre in the town centre and other venues in rural areas.

Over the last two decades the festival has generated more than £20 million for the local economy and attracted an audience from throughout Europe and countries including the US, Australia, Japan, Canada, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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