Fiery unveiling at Kelpies launch in Falkirk

SPECIAL effects including towering flames of fire, huge light and video projections and a soundtrack of real horses brought Scotland’s giant “Kelpies” sculptures to life tonight.

Groupe F perform a light, flame and sound show during the launch of the Kelpies. Picture: PA

The skills of French pyrotechnics experts were used to officially launch the nation’s biggest works of art with the 30-metre tall landmarks the stars of a show billed as a cross between a piece of outdoor theatre and a giant art installation.

Around 100 different flames shot into the air during a series of dramatic 15-minutes shows, being staged last night and this evening at the home of the Kelpies in Falkirk.

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They herald the official launch of Glasgow artist Andy Scott’s acclaimed creations, as well as the start of the first ever festival in Scotland dedicated to the legacy of pioneering conservationist John Muir, who was born in East Lothian and died 100 years ago next week.

Groupe F perform a light, flame and sound show during the launch of the Kelpies. Picture: PA

Widely-regarded as the founding father of the global conservation movement, thanks to his efforts after emigrating to the United States, Muir is said to relatively unknown in his home country. It is already hoped this year’s £370,000 festival, a centrepiece of the Scottish Government’s Homecoming programme, will become an annual fixture.

Up to 12,000 spectators descended on Helix public park built alongside the M9 motorway, close to Falkirk Football Club’s Stadium and the banks of the Forth & Clyde Canal.

It is hoped the effects at the Kelpies, masterminded by the world-renowned company Goupe F, will emulate previous celebrations they have worked on, such as the illumination of Big Ben, in London, the opening of the world’s tallest hotel in Dubai, the Millennium celebrations at the Eiffel Tower and a display above the Millennium Bridge linking Newcastle and Gateshead.

Artists from around Scotland have been brought in by the environmental festival’s organisers, Glasgow-based UZ Events, to stage the two-night celebration at the Kelpies. They will be creating special works of art, developed around the theme of “Home”, located at various points around an hour-long walking circuit.