Five facts you may not know about New York Tartan Day Parade

Thousands of people will gather to watch the parade Picture: NYC Tartan week
Thousands of people will gather to watch the parade Picture: NYC Tartan week
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The New York Tartan Day Parade will take place on Saturday April 9. The festival aims to celebrate Scottish-American heritage and pride and promote the bonds between the two countries.

The parade takes place down Sixth Avenue - the Avenue of the Americas - marching just over half a mile from West 45th Street to 55th Street.

Here are some facts you may not know about Tartan Week:

Sam Heughan is this years Grand Marshal

The Grand Marshal is an honorary title given to a person who leads the parade, and this time Outlander star Sam has that honour.

Sam grew up in New Galloway and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). One of Sam’s first acting jobs was in a series of advert for Tennent Lager playing Hugh Tennent.

Sam Heughan will be this year's Grand Marshal Picture: John Devlin/ TSPL

Sam Heughan will be this year's Grand Marshal Picture: John Devlin/ TSPL

READ MORE: Map: Scotland key battle sites throughout the ages

April 6 is National Tartan Day

On 1998, the US Senate agreed to designate this day as National Tartan Day to recognise the contributions made by Scottish-Americans in the States. In 1999, the first parade consisted of just two pipe bands and a small group of Scottish Americans who marched from the British Consulate to the UN. April 4 2008, President George W. Bush signed a Presidential Proclamation making April 6 National Tartan Day.

Many famous Scots have been Grand Marshal

New York Tartan Day parade will take place April 9 Picture: NYC Tartan Week

New York Tartan Day parade will take place April 9 Picture: NYC Tartan Week

There have been 17 parades, this year being the 18th, and over the course of those years, many Scots have taken the lead spot in the parade. Those include: Alan Cumming, 2009; Brian Cox, 2012; and last year Graham McTavish - who is also known for playing Dougal MacKenzie in Outlander.

READ MORE: The tale of Scottish banshees: Baobhan Sith

There are several other Tartan Days around the world

Canada estimates that around 15 per cent of the population has Scottish heritage. To celebrate this Nova Scotia proclaimed a tartan day in April 1987.

Graham McTavish was 2015s Grand Marshal Picture: NYC Tartan Week

Graham McTavish was 2015s Grand Marshal Picture: NYC Tartan Week

Australia and New Zealand have their Tartan Day on July 1 - the anniversary of the Repeal Proclamation of 1782 which annulling the Act of Proscription of 1747 - an act which had made wearing tartan a punishable offense. Argentina said they have around 100,000 people of Scottish descent. The first Tartan Day parade of Scottish porteños took place on April 6, 2006 and is organized every year by the Scottish Argentine Society.

It’s a growing parade

This year over 3,000 marchers are expected to take part in the parade.

This is a stark difference from the handful who took part in the first parade in 1999. Pervious marching groups have included students from St Andrews university and even the New York police department.

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