There is something quite magical about that moment when you turn into Belladrum Estate on the opening day of the festival. Before you everything is laid out, all the main landmarks, just as you remembered them from last year, as if they had never been away.

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A busy campsite, particularly in the family section

The camp site fills quickly now, more so than in previous years as the Thursday had become more than just a prelude to the main event.

Spaces in the family area appeared to be at a premium as we moved into the early evening, but there is always a space to be found as campers took up the ever decreasing gap sites.

Moving into the main arena there was a noticeable buzz of anticipation with tonight being the appetiser for the main course to be served up over the next two days. For a starter there was a lot on offer. Many took the opportunity to visit the merchandise stall, for which there was a steady queue, and for some there was the chance to renew old friendships. But a number of the stages also opened up and were entertaining growing numbers who migrated from the camp site.

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The Potting Shed always packs a punch on opening night

The Potting Shed, tucked in next to the entrance from the family camping area, always packs a punch on opening night. When I wandered by it was Dougie Burns and his band that was wowing an audience. Dougie was in fine fettle delivering a bit of the blues and a bit of rock ‘n’ roll. Added to this corner of the festival is the 2CV stage ensuring non-stop entertainment over the weekend.

Up next to the food area, and I’m pleased to see all the old favourites are still there, is the Verb Garden. Popping my head in the genial Connor O’Hara was introducing some comedy to a packed out house.

Over at what you could call Thursday’s main stage, the Black Isle Brewery Grassroots Stage, the Jim Kennedy fronted Rhythmnreel was whipping, not just those in the tent but those watching from outside, into a festival frenzy. They are really making Thursday night their own.

Thursday night at Belladrum is growing each year; edging on from the year before. And it’s appreciated by the punters. It has really set it up very well for the next two days. It may be a recent cliché but, bring it on!

We have a couple more article on the first night on our Belladrum site and to keep updated with all of the things going on in Inverness, sign up to our mailing list.

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Chartered surveyor by day, music reviewer by night, and occasionally I get to use my camera. A strange mix, but one that I enjoy. A chance meeting in the queue for Bella in 2010 led to the opportunity to write for InvernessGigs; a far cry from the days of writing for a football fanzine back in the late 80s, early 90s. My interests lie between the mainstream, the emerging and the local. Increasingly I find that we have more than enough locally to entertain us to necessitate a trip south. I’m always happy to give a listen, whatever the genre. Inverness has a plethora of talent, all of which I am more than keen to write about. If it encourages just one person to make the effort to listen to some new music I’ll be happy. You can contact Frank direct via