DCSIMG

Year of Homecoming 2014 to feature 430 events

Alex Salmond at the launch of Homecoming Scotland earlier this year. Picture: Gareth Easton

Alex Salmond at the launch of Homecoming Scotland earlier this year. Picture: Gareth Easton

  • by BRIAN FERGUSON
 

More than 430 events will make up the official programme for the next Year of Homecoming, organisers have revealed.

The figure is already 21 more than featured in the initial Homecoming campaign in 2009, which was held to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.

More than 70 of next year’s events, which get under way at the end of the month, have now won a share of £6 million funding set aside by VisitScotland and EventScotland for the tourism initiative, which is being staged to capitalise on what is billed as the biggest year for events and festivals. About 100 are expected to receive some form of financial backing.

Strict criteria to secure a place in the 2009 programme have been relaxed for next year’s events, to include food and drink, arts and culture, outdoor activities, and sports and ancestral-themed events.

New additions include a music festival on Eigg, a hot air balloon spectacular in Lanarkshire, shinty’s annual Camanachd cup final, a festival of paddle-sports in Perthshire, a horse trials in South Queensferry and a piping parade through Stirling.

Homecoming 2014 is being run to coincide with the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in Scotland, as well as the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn.

Extra funding has been ring-fenced by VisitScotland, EventScotland and Creative Scotland to help pay for a cultural celebration in Glasgow, which will run alongside the Commonwealth Games, a gala opening concert for the Ryder Cup and a three-day festival in Bannockburn.

About 100 major events were announced at the official Homecoming launch earlier this year.

They included a festival honouring the life and legacy of conservationist John Muir, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of his death; the biggest ever concert to be staged as part of the Celtic Connections music festival; a ten-day programme of events to mark the 50th birthday of the Forth Road Bridge; and the world sheepdog trials.

Other events which have received official Homecoming backing include the world stone skimming championships on the island of Easdale.

Two lengthy themed celebrations – one of the biggest celebrations of whisky, the other to coincide with the staging of the Mod in Inverness – are being planned in May and September-October respectively.

Newly-confirmed funded events include Electric Glen, a light show staged in Rouken Glen, Renfrewshire and a beach rugby tournament in Turnberry.

Caroline Packman, Homecoming director at EventScotland, said: “We recognise people will be coming to Scotland for lots of different reasons next year, not just Homecoming.

“The whole idea of it is to extend the benefits of the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup throughout the whole year, rather than just have peaks of activity.

“The main objective is to attract extra tourism revenue which we can directly attribute to the Homecoming campaign. We now have events confirmed in the programme in every local authority area in Scotland. Around a quarter of the events in our programme will be brand new events.

“We have tried to get the right balance between supporting brand new events - which are fun and exciting and add to Scotland’s diversity of events - and supporting existing events to help them grow for the future, either through programme enhancements or international marketing.”

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland said: “Our Homecoming team has been working ridiculously hard to ensure we have an absolutely stunning programme of events for what is set to be a spectacular year for Scotland.

“There is something for everyone in the programme and we can’t wait to get started, welcoming the world in 2014 for a remarkable celebration of our country’s magnificent culture, heritage, sport and, of course, sense of fun.”

TASTE OF FESTIVALS TO COME

Big Burns Supper Dumfries, 24-26 January

Highlights of a three-day festival – billed as the biggest Burns celebration in the world – will include a 2,000-strong street carnival.

John Muir Festival, across Central Scotland, 17-26 April

The official opening of the Kelpies horse head sculptures heralds the first major event celebrating the conservationist in his home country.

Lost Map’s Howling Fling festival, Isle of Eigg, 18-20 July

Johnny Lynch, one of the key figures in the folk Fence Collective movement, stages a three-day event on the Hebridean island where he is now based.

Strathaven Balloon Festival, 22-24 August

Scotland’s only major hot air ballooning event, and one of the largest in the UK, features a spectacular night-time event.

MTV Europe Music Awards, Glasgow, 9 November

The last major event of the year as the Hydro hosts one of the world’s biggest music industry events.

Despite the two major sporting events, as well as the Bannockburn anniversary and the MTV Europe Music Awards being staged in Scotland next year, organisers have set a lower target, of £44 million, for extra economic benefit from this year’s programme, compared to the £54 million generated in 2009.

 

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