ONE of Scotland’s leading singer-songwriters is to head up a major new St Andrew’s Day celebration in Edinburgh.
Dougie MacLean, best known for his epic anthem Caledonia, will be leading an eight-hour celebration of the nation’s “ceilidh culture,” which will be staged in the historic Grassmarket area.
The free event, one of several major new additions to Edinburgh’s festive programme this year, is expected to be the centrepiece of St Andrew’s celebrations which are being staged across the country.
Other events over the St Andrew’s holiday weekend, part of a £350,000 festive programme being bankrolled by the Scottish Government, are planned in Oban, Perth, Glasgow, East Lothian and St Andrews itself.
Also appearing at the Grassmarket event will be Louis Abbott, frontman of Scottish indie favourites Admiral Fallow, who appeared at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations last year, and two of Scotland’s leading folk outfits - Blazin’ Fiddles and Braebach.
They will all be joining forces with MacLean - who is about to stage his own Perthshire Amber festival, which starts on Friday - for a celebration concert devoted to songs by Robert Burns and some of his favourite tunes.
Their show will be a revival of a sell-out concert staged at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow as part of the Celtic Connections festival earlier this year. It will will round off a day of live music, dance and storytelling workshops, market stalls and an open-air ceilidh dance.
Events elsewhere in the country include a £20,000 three-day programme of free entertainment in Glasgow’s George Square featuring ceilidh dances, an open-air film screening and live music, a new St Andrew’s Day celebration in Oban as part of its 10-day winter festival, which has won a £5000 grant, and five-days of festivities in East Lothian, under the banner of The Saltire, which have been allocated £18,000.
The £65,000 Grassmarket celebration, believed to be the biggest outdoor event to be held to date in Scotland to mark St Andrew’s Day, will come less than a week after Sir Chris Hoy switches on the capital’s Christmas lights at the climax of a new open-air carnival on George Street.
A Spiegeltent venue being brought into St Andrew Square will host a hit new international cabaret and acrobatics show, Limbo, while Fringe hit Hot Dub Time Machine is being revived at the Summerhall arts centre. A 60-metre tall “star-flyer” attraction and a 42-metre high London Eye-style wheel, with enclosed pods, are being introduced as part of a drive to improve the capital’s Christmas festival.
It is being jointly organised by Edinburgh firm Unique Events, which has produced the city’s Hogmanay celebrations for the last two decades, and Fringe promoters Underbelly.
Unique, which has programmed the Grassmarked event, had already organised previous St Andrew’s Day events on the Royal Mile on behalf of the Scottish Government. Among the bands already booked for this year’s Hogmanay celebrations are Pet Shop Boys, King Creosote, The Reziloos, Django Django and Chvrches.
Pete Irvine, managing director of Unique, said of the Grassmarket event: “This extraordinary celebration of Scottish celidih culture brings together some of our greatest traditional musicians to entertain the crowds on Scotland’s National Day. It’s the first time that we have celebrated St Andrew’s Day in this way in Edinburgh and is a great start to the city’s Christmas and Hogmanay programme of events.”
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Scotland’s winter festivals bring people together to celebrate the very best of our culture, creativity and hospitality.
“Not only do they make a significant contribution to our economy, but they bring warmth, excitement and sparkle to our cold, dark winter nights, and demonstrate our ability to celebrate our rich culture year-round.
“The packed programme of free events around St Andrew’s Day in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket is the perfect way for the city to kick off the celebrations. From traditional music and dance to storytelling, it will be a taster of some of the exciting things to come over the next few months.”