WHERE WE BEGAN
In 1985, as an effort to boost and lengthen the Islay summer season for tourists, a Committee was formed to launch the first ever Islay Festivel, or Fèis Ìle.
The first festival was held in 1986 and was a wonderful mix of Community events: walks, history talks, slideshows, Ceilidh's and more. There was one whisky tasting, but the whisky was just a tiny element in a event which lasted three weekends, two whole weeks and traversed the whole island.
The as the festival progressed through the 1980's, the early days of the Festival were very exciting with Communities competing for the Best Dressed Village to the culminating Carnival Day. Decorated floats, stalls and entertainment followed after weeks of hard work by all the locals. Two weeks were filled with music, drama, workshops, talks, walks, Ceilidhs, Concerts and Dances in the evening. There was even a Carnival Queen from each Parish Kildalton, Kilarrow and Kilmeny & the Rhinns.
In 2000 the Distilleries became more involved and introduced their special Open Days and ultimately their special Fèis Ìle Whisky.
The Fèis Ìle is the charitable organisation from which this now huge Festival of Music & Malt has evolved. The Voluntary Committee work collaboratively with the Distillery Community together with local Musicians and other interested people to Showcase Islay. We add to this mix a number of visiting artists. The Island population triples during the week of the Festival which means everyone now works flat out to accommodate and make the visitor experience so memorable.