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- 23. January 2008.


Fort William launches 2008 Mountain Festival programme

Fort William, today (Tuesday 04 December 2008), unveiled a Mountain Festival programme that will put the Outdoor Capital of the UK at the centre of Scotland's events programme in 2008.  Organisers of the 2008 Fort William Mountain Festival, presented with The Nevis Partnership, due to be staged from Friday 15 to Saturday 23 February, have promised a nine day extravaganza of films, lectures, guided walks, workshops, exhibitions, literature, photography and music for residents and visitors who want to learn about and celebrate mountain culture. 

As the UK's only festival dedicated to celebrating mountains and the culture that surrounds them the festival's organising committee are pleased to announce that The Nevis Partnership, a charitable company committed to protecting, managing and maintaining the unique and special environment of Ben and Glen Nevis and the surrounding area, will be the main presenting partner for the 2008 festival.  The diverse programme of new events and old favourites sees a wide selection of cultural and sporting events and activities in Fort William and Lochaber during the best winter walking and climbing conditions of the year.  

Chairman of the Highland Mountain Culture Association, Mike Pescod said: 'Our 2008 programme that includes top climbers, paddlers, mountain bikers, inspirational speakers, international films and public art will cater for everyone of all ages from extreme adrenaline junkies to outdoor enthusiasts and creative writers. 

'Thanks to EventScotland the festival will host the UK's first major slacklining competition when the best balancers in the UK will do battle for the slackline crown.  We will be presenting the first Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture and we now have the best prizes in the UK for a mountain film competition thanks to the Outdoor Capital of the UK.

'We are also delighted to be welcoming a superb line up of guests from the worlds of mountaineering, biking and paddling including Jo Gambi, Kenton Cool, Billy Savage, Cameron McNeish and Corran Addison to Fort William throughout the festival'

The 2008 Fort William Mountain Festival will host the first ever UK Slacklining Championships - The UK Slacklining Masters in association with EventScotland. Slacklining is a balance sport distinct from tightrope walking in that the line is not held rigidly taut; it is instead dynamic, stretching, bouncing and swaying like a long rubber band. The dynamic nature of the line allows for impressive tricks and stunts testing both focus and nerve.  On Saturday 23 February 2008 balance enthusiasts from all over the UK will battle it out to discover who is the Master of the Slackline.  This will be an awesome spectacle and once spectators have seen how it's done they can try their hand, under instruction, in the try-out zone.

Paul Bush, Chief Operating Officer of EventScotland commented 'EventScotland is delighted to support the UK's first Slacklining Championship, an exciting new sport and one with a very enthusiastic following as can be seen on the various posts on YouTube.  I am confident that this dynamic activity will attract new visitors to Fort William to watch and participate' 

This year festival organisers have introduced Scotland's first annual award for excellence in mountain culture – The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, sponsored by Alcan Primary Metal - Europe - to celebrate outstanding contributions to Scotland's mountains, encompassing sport, theatre, art, photography, film and literature.  This unique national award, that will celebrate the achievements of one inspiring individual every year, will be presented to the first recipient on the last night of the 2008 festival.

The Best of Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, the most inspiring mountain films from around the world, returns to the festival once again.  From adrenaline fuelled action to fascinating mountain culture and wildlife this is always guaranteed to be a night of thrilling entertainment. 

Other festival highlights include 'Party at Nevis Range', the official opening party at the Snowgoose Restaurant at the top of the Nevis Range mountain gondola; a Paddle Sports evening with kayaking legend Corran Addison; a celebration of 75 years of the Mountain Rescue Service, The Nevis Connections evening that celebrates the spirit of Nevis in music, poetry, prose photography and film; Biking Trail-blazers, an intriguing insight into legends of road and mountain biking and a Mountaineering Evening with Jo Gambi, the first woman to climb the seven highest mountains in seven continents and ski to the North and South Poles.

Children and adults will have the opportunity to try out new activities and learn new skills through daily mountain skills workshops.  Highly experienced and fully qualified guides from Abacus Mountaineering, in conjunction with Nevis Range, will lead full day courses in avalanche awareness, winter walking and winter climbing.  The team at No Fuss Events, organisers of mountain biking events throughout Scotland, will lead a skills day on the fabulous 'Ten Under The Ben' mountain bike cross country course in the Leanachan Forest. Kinlochleven's Ice Factor Indoor Climbing Centre will be offering taster sessions in indoor climbing and ice climbing throughout the festival.  For those keen to explore their creative ideas in a stimulating environment the John Muir Trust and Nevis Partnership will be hosting a Writers' Walk and Workshop afternoon.

After the success of previous years' film competitions the Fort William Mountain Festival 2008 has again offered the opportunity for both amateur and professional filmmakers from across the globe to showcase their work and share their passion for sport, culture and the environment. This year the organisers have worked with the Outdoor Capital of the UK to more than double the film competition prize fund; now the best prizes in the UK for a mountain film competition. The short-listed films will receive their premieres at the Nevis Centre on Monday 18 February 2008.


Anna Trafford, Project Director of Outdoor Capital of the UK, said: 'We are proud to work with the Fort William Mountain Festival in celebrating mountain culture.   With significant prizes now on offer [£1000 for the best Scottish film, £1000 for best International film, £600 for best short film and £400 for best young film maker] we urge all film-makers both professional and amateur who value our unique mountain heritage to enter.  Here in Lochaber we are already looking forward to a great evening's entertainment watching the results of the competition.'

The John Muir Trust Open Writing Competition, the People's Choice Original Art Competition and the Photographic Competition also return for another year.

The festival will close with 'The Modern Face of Everest'.  Mountaineer Kenton Cool and climber/film-maker Matt Dickinon will join renowned climber Dave MacLeod to discuss the ethics of today's Everest.  The exciting finale will include the presentation of the inaugural Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture and the screening of the BBC Film 'Everest The Hard Way'.  

Mike Pescod added: 'The great potential of this celebration of mountain culture to showcase the huge range of outdoor activity opportunities available to visitors to Fort William and Locahaber has attracted the unique and vital partnership of The Nevis Partnership, EventScotland, The Nevis Range and The Outdoor Capital of the UK. The essential financial backing and logistical support of these partners and our other supporters has guaranteed the delivery of another great mountain festival that will attract visitors from all over the UK and further afield.

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