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Colonsay Festival of Spring & October Food and Drink Festival

Colonsay Festival of Spring & October Food and Drink Festival

Colonsay Tourism & Marketing Group

2019 was another successful year for both the Spring and the Autumn festivals on Colonsay, run by the Colonsay Tourism & Marketing Group. For the Spring Festival, the attendances were up by 30%, from 550 to 715. This festival has built up a very loyal following over its 9 years and approx. 40% of attendees are returning visitors. For the Food & Drink festival, this year's attendances have stayed pretty much consistent with the 2018 figures, at approx 500. This festival is slightly younger but is now building a good following with 30% of returning visitors. Both festivals were started to improve visitor numbers on the island in two consistently low occupancy periods.  Therefore the highest proportion of attendees come from 'off island'. For the Spring Festival 90% of the attendances are made up of people from out with the immediate community.  For the Food & Drink Festival this is slightly higher at 95%.

Due to the geographical position of our festivals, attendees have to come and stay on the island in order to take part, with most staying in self-catering accommodation for a week or more.  An uptake in festival participation immediately equates to an uptake for accommodation providers, the village shop, cafes, the hotel and all the other retail businesses. During the 9 years that the Spring Festival has been running, the growth in visitors has happened steadily and organically, with many people returning year on year, telling / bringing friends, and generally recommending by word of mouth. In the last 3 years alone, festival attendance has risen by 45% and the accommodation for the 2020 event is already well booked.

Colonsay Festival of Spring & October Food and Drink Festival

Sarah Hobhouse, event organizer comments: "The single biggest overhead of both festivals is the travel & accommodation costs for the visiting workshop leaders, walking guides and food & drink experts. CalMac have been key in supporting both events from their outset.  Having the ferry travel costs underpinned in this way has enabled both events to grow & thrive, thus increasing visitor numbers for both Colonsay and CalMac. Both festivals continue to be very grateful for this support."

The Colonsay Festival of Spring has just been shortlisted for Best Rural Tourism Iniative, part of the Scottish Rural Awards 2020. The winner will be announced in April - we wish you the best of luck.





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