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Perthshire Amber Festival: Perthshire Scotland

Updated on October 9, 2014

Dougie Maclean folk festival

Every year for 10 wonderful days, Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie Maclean hosts a folk festival. The festival is based in and around Perthshire and is name Perthshire Amber Festival. If you have ever visited Perthshire in Scotland in autumn you will know how appropriate the name is - and it may well have a little to do with the amber nectar too!

Artists and audience from all over the world congregate to share a unique experience. The whole thing has a wonderful community feel with international famed singers and musicians. The Maclean family is very prominent with Dougie wandering round, or he will pick up a fiddle and join in.

The whole ethos of the festival is second to none. There are collections for food for the homeless, a Big Knit with everyone calmly knitting squares to be made into a blanket that is auctioned at the end. You can take part in the Amber cabaret, go on guided walks, join the Song Bus for a tour of Perthshire, learn new skills - fancy the penny whistle, join a choir, learn photography and so much more with tutorials and workshops. There is no hiding behind the scenes for the artists either - they join in, help out lugging equipment or manning sound systems and lights. They encourage car shares and shuttle buses to reduce the carbon footprint and everyone is very very welcome.

This page was first written in 2009 but I have updated it to include dates for 2012 - I will add the programme when it is finalized later in the year.

Image credit: Dougie Maclean at Perth Theatre - 2009 - all the images on this page are by the author AnnMackieMiller and copyrighted to her. They may not be used or copied.

Interesting Facts about Dougie Maclean

  1. Dougie MacLean was born in Perthshire, Scotland in 1954.
  2. He is married to artist Jenny who designs all his album covers. They have 2 children, Jamie and Julia and he became a grandfather in 2011.
  3. He and his family live in Butterstone - in the old school where he attended primary school.
  4. He and his family run Dunkeld Records. His tours and the festival is very much a family affair with his wife and daughter prominent in the organisation of it, his son is either on stage or is in charge of sound recording and video streaming. Until 2011, his mother was in charge of the Big Knit and will often appear with her group playing bells.
  5. Dougie is a singer, songwriter, wonderful composer and master of several musical instruments. (guitar, violin, didgeridoo, mandola, viola, bouzouki, banjo and bass. His mother played the mandola.
  6. His musical career started in 1976 in a traditional band called The Tannahill Weavers. He successfully went solo from 1981 and has recorded numerous albums since then.
  7. Dougie and his family tour worldwide and he is especially fond of the USA, Canada and Australia where he has many contacts.
  8. Many of his songs and music has been recorded by well known performers all over the world. Famously his instrumental 'The Gael' features in the film The Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Among the many who record his music are, Amy Macdonald, Kathy Mattea, Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder, Frankie Miller, Paulo Nutini and Leon Jackson.
  9. One of his most famous songs is 'Caledonia'. It has been widely adopted as an unofficial anthem in Scotland and for Scots all over the world. It was played at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1991. Dougie describes it as his 'little song' and was at first surprised at it's success. He wrote it when he was touring in France and was feeling homesick for home.
  10. There is a whisky called Caledonia made by the Edradour Distillary which is the smallest distillery in Scotland. The whisky matured in an oak cast for 12 years and the cask was made into a guitar. Dougie was the first to play the guitar and often appears with it at the festival.

Listen to The Gael - on YouTube

Dougie Maclean The Gael - download

The Gael
The Gael

The Gael features in the film The Last of the Mohicans - it's haunting melody speaks to Scots all over the world.

Amber Harvest
Amber Harvest

Amber Harvest

Charity at Perthshire Amber Festival

At every festival Dougie and the family collect non-perishable food for donations to the charity the Cyrenians who deal with the homeless. Called the Amber Harvest Dougie's project was inspired by a charity organisation in America called Food Bank. At a charity concert he did for them the audience were encouraged to bring along donations of food and he thought it was a great idea. Throughout the 10 days of the festival there are baskets for people to add their items. Every year the Cyrenians say they need a bigger van!

(The FareShare Scheme administered in Edinburgh by the Cyrenians (Scottish Charity Number 11052)) FareShare

The Big Knit

knitting for charity

The Big Knit at the Perthshire Amber Festival started in 2007. Dougie's mum Dolly was co-opted into helping out at the Festival to raise funds for the charity aspect of the festival. The idea is that anyone can knit a square and when they are completed they are sewn into a blanket to be auctioned for charity on the final night concert. That first blanket raised £300 and seems to raise more and more each year. During the ten days of the festival you can walk into almost any bar in and around Pitlochry, or into a concert and see people busy knitting. There is always an area set aside during the day for knitters to meet and chat - and knit - you can even spot Dougie trying his hand at times. The charities who benefit are

the Cyrenian and Shelter. Wool and needles are often donated for the project. Since 2009 - folks who can't actually make it to the festival send in their knitted squares from all over the world. Each year the colours change so if you want to take part - send an email to them at --> Butterstone - The Big Knit and ask them what this year's colours are.

Music by Dougie Maclean - on Amazon

Contact Details for Dougie Maclean

Perthshire Amber Festival

Butterstone Management & Events


The Old Schoolhouse






E-mail: Admin at Butterstone This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Telephone: +44 (0)1350 724281

Information: For tickets and information email - ->Tickets

or check out the website at: Perthshire Amber Festival

© 2009 Ann

What do you think of Dougie Maclean?

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I do love celtic music and this sounds like a delightful festival.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 8 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      sure will Linda, thanks for stopping bye. hugs [in reply to LindaJM]

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I'm a fan. Say hi to Dougie for me, if you get a chance!!