MERCURY Prize nominees Eliza Carthy and The Unthanks are headlining Dunbar Music Festival.

Dozens of artists and musicians will perform between today (Friday) and Sunday at a range of venues.

Formed in 1988 as Dunbar Traditional Music Festival, the longest-running music festival in East Lothian changed its name in 2020.

Neil Allison, chairman of the festival, said: “This is a really exciting year for Dunbar Music Festival and we’re really proud of the quality of music our programme offers this year.

“Being able to include indoor gigs once again is fantastic and we are delighted to have 30 free events taking place all over town.

“We have received great support from local businesses in delivering the festival this year and are really looking forward to seeing the town busy throughout the festival weekend and showcasing what Dunbar offers.”

East Lothian Courier: Toby Mottershead is performing at the Dunbar Music Festival

Toby Mottershead

Nominated twice for the Mercury Prize, which has been won by artists ranging from PJ Harvey and Dizzee Rascal to Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand, Eliza Carthy is described as “one of the standout folk performers of her generation”.

She has performed and recorded alongside artists ranging from Paul Weller and Nick Cave to Rufus and Martha Wainwright over a 30-year career.

The Eliza Carthy Trio will be supported by local musicians Logan’s Close, named after the vennel off Dunbar High Street, today (Friday).

On Saturday, The Unthanks are supported by Toby Mottershead.

East Lothian Courier: The Unthanks are co-headling the Dunbar Music Festival this weekend

The Unthanks

Nominated for the prestigious award in 2008, The Unthanks have twice won Mojo Magazine Folk Album of the Year and been featured on BBC television.

Tickets for both concerts, which get under way at 7pm in Dunbar Parish Church Hall, are available from

The festival, which is supported by The Community Lottery Fund, EventScotland, Belhaven Brewery and Dunbar Community Council, has unveiled its largest ever programme of free gigs, with 30 different events in nine venues over the weekend.

A number of local acts feature as the festival offers a range of styles while maintaining its long standing connection to traditional Scottish folk music.

Local musicians include Melissa Cairns, Macfunkel, Firefly Fortyfive, Barry Stalker and Friends, Andrew Brooks, Cairnsie, Martha Cornish and Rollin’ Sky.

A number of artists will also travel to Dunbar, including Brothers Gillespie, John Rush and award-winning South African guitarist Tony Cox.

A new addition this year is a series of creative workshops made possible thanks to funding support from the National Lottery Community Fund.

East Lothian Courier: John Rush is among those performing at the Dunbar Music Festival. Picture: Omar Salam

John Rush. Image: Omar Salam

Four free-to-attend workshops will be available for young people from across East Lothian to come together and learn from professional musicians, vocal coaches and industry experts.

Organisers of Scotland’s annual music convention Wide Days will oversee a series of seminars that explain how the music industry works; professional jazz singer Eileen Hunter will share vocal coaching tips; Tony Cox will introduce young guitar-playing enthusiasts to finger-style guitar playing; and Dunbar Voices musical director Moira Morrison will lead a special Sound Waves group singing workshop.

Participation in these workshops is co-ordinated through the participating experts and is available to all secondary school pupils in the county.

Anyone looking to sign up should speak with their music teacher for more information or contact the festival through the website.

Visit to find out more information on the full programme of events and book tickets.