SCOTS violinist Nicola Benedetti kicked off Celtic Connections in style.

The multi-award winning classical musician performed alongside two of Scotland's best known traditional musicians at the opening concert of the annual festival.

Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham played with Benedetti while vocalist Julie Fowlis - who performed the soundtrack for DisneyPixar film Brave - sang.

Organisers described the show as a "fantastic milestone for musical collaboration" and promised the biggest and most ambitious festival yet.

More than two decades ago the festival kicked off with a line up of Dhais, Four Men and a Dog and Wolfstone.

At the 21st annual Celtic Connections, Duncan Chisholm, who was then part of Wolfstone, took to the stage again to witness the festival come of age.

Donald Shaw, artistic director of Celtic Connections, said: "It's fantastic we're finally here at the opening day of the 21st festival.

"I can't wait for the next 18 days, there will be an eclectic mix of musical genres from all over the world playing in venues right across Glasgow.

"Celtic Connections 2014 is kicking off what is going to be a massive year for Glasgow and Scotland and, as a festival, we have embraced this by showcasing musical talent from other Commonwealth countries and exploring the cultural links between the music that comes out of Scotland and these other countries."

"This year's festival boasts an impressive line up featuring some of the best traditional musicians."

Glasgow's newest venue, the SSE Hydro, will host two shows, including a performance by reformed Glasgow band Del Amitri, who will play their first UK gig since 2002 on Friday, January 24.

The £125 million venue will also host the Celtic Connections International Burns Night, featuring a star-studded line up included Capercaillie, Rachel Sermanni and Dougie MacLean.

Councillor Archie Graham, chairman of Glasgow Life and executive member for the Commonwealth Games, said: "By the look of this year's programme, Celtic Connections will hold firm its place as a cornerstone in Scotland's cultural calendar and kick start what is going to be a massive year for the people of Glasgow.

"The festival continues to attract visitors from all over the world and so contributes to a hugely positive cultural and economic impact for the city and country as a whole.

"It's continued international appeal further enhances the city's reputation as a major tourist destination."