DOZENS of musicians will strut their stuff throughout Haddington as a popular festival returns this weekend.

Live music will fill venues ranging from The Haddy Tap and The Mercat to St Mary’s Parish Church and The Bridge Centre on Saturday and Sunday.

Haddstock, which opens with a quiz in The Green tomorrow (Friday) night, will showcase some of the county’s best musicians, as well as providing an art trail through the town after teaming up with local art organisations.

Beki Dover, director and co-ordinator of the event, encouraged people to come along and look out for the red top hats.

She said: “Haddstock is free entry for live music.

“We remind people to bring some cash to put in the red top hats.

“That is how the musicians are paid.”

A wealth of musical styles is on offer at the festival, which is supported by East Lothian Council, the Lamp of Lothian and Haddington Rotary, with sponsorship coming from Belltown Power and Stewart Milne Homes.

East Lothian Courier: Haddstock started in 2017 and has continued to growHaddstock started in 2017 and has continued to grow

Folk and Americana, as well as jazz, rock, blues and soul can be found throughout the town.

The festival has overcome the coronavirus pandemic to grow to include an arts trail, which takes in venues ranging from East Coast FM and the East Lothian Community Hospital to East Lothian Flower Farm and MADE Arts Hub.

Beki said: “We started Haddstock in 2017, when we filled the town with live music and ever since then we have grown a little bit, in that we collaborate with lots of different local organisations and schools.

“Now, we have an arts trail as well as the live music.

“We had a great response last year, which was the first festival we had run since the pandemic.

“There seemed to be a really good appetite for it.

“We had 4,000 people come to enjoy the festival.

“Myself and two friends, who are all artists and musicians, thought it would be fun to start a festival. We could see a need for an arts festival in Haddington.

“There are quite a lot of people who are creative and musical and we could see a gap that needed to be filled.

“When we put a call out for musicians at the beginning of each year, we have around 80 artists, who are groups, solos, duos, all putting their hands up and saying they would love to play.

“There are a lot of young people who want to play and it is their first platform, first opportunity, to play in public.

“They need that as a stepping stone and we also have musicians who are more experienced but because we are a community festival it is fine.

“There is a lot of goodwill and people want to join for the fun of it.

“Their friends come along, and people who are retired want to play, and semi-professionals want to try out some new material and see how it goes in quite a relaxed environment.”

East Lothian Courier: Phoenix Falls are among the acts performing at Haddstock this year. Image: Philip WarkPhoenix Falls are among the acts performing at Haddstock this year. Image: Philip Wark

Beki, who lives in the town, highlighted the importance of Haddstock to not only the musicians but local businesses.

Organisers wanted the festival to be something that “benefited local businesses rather than building a stage in the field”.

Beki added: “The businesses really, really appreciate it.

“Their takings are normally quite good on the Haddstock weekend and a real boost, especially last year after the pandemic.

“The proprietors were delighted with having their bars so busy.

“That is our aim – to help boost the local economy.”