Musicians sign up for Bannockburn celebrations

A STRING of Scotland’s leading musicians have agreed to take part in the troubled celebrations to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

Battle re-enactments, live music and outdoor activities are all planned for the Bannockburn Live event. Picture: Greg Macvean
Battle re-enactments, live music and outdoor activities are all planned for the Bannockburn Live event. Picture: Greg Macvean

Julie Fowlis, the Gaelic songstress who won worldwide fame after appearance on the soundtrack of Disney-Pixar film Brave, and veteran musician Dougie MacLean, best known for his epic anthem Caledonia, will top the bill of entertainment at the two-day event in June. Other star attractions include Roddy Woomble, frontman of indie favourites Idlewild, Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fire, who recently won a week-long residency on Craig Ferguson’s US chat show, Celtic supergroup Treacherous Orchestra, multi award-winning folk singer Karine Polwart and Rachel Sermanni, the new face and voice of RBS’s latest campaign.

More than 300 performers are lined up to appear at recreations of medieval encampments and the battle itself, while almost 40 different clan organisations are expected at the event at the end of June.

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It will also feature a pop-up bookshop, stand-up comedy, a food and drink showcase and an ancestral arena allowing visitors to find out if they are related to anyone who played a part in Robert the Bruce’s famous victory. The event, which was originally being organised by the National Trust for Scotland, is being underwritten by VisitScotland, who took over responsibility from the charity earlier this year after a clash with the UK’s major Armed Forces Day commemorations in Stirling emerged and just 1000 tickets were sold in advance. A third day for the festival was dropped while the overall capacity was more than halved, from 45,000 to just 20,000. Tickets for each day cost £22 for adults, although they do not include access to the new £9 million visitor centre at the battlefield.

Julie Fowlis, who was catapulted to international fame thanks to Disney/Pixar film Brave, will be appearing. Picture: Robert Perry

Producers Unique Events, who were brought in a year ago to mastermind the festivities said they would capture “every essence” of Scottish culture.

Director Pete Irvine said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to create a completely new kind of festival, where history takes centre stage. This mix of the theatre (the battle re-enactments, national and natural history, outdoor activities and top-class music has not been seen before.

“We think this is the good-value family event in Scotland this summer.

Scottish tourism minister Fergus Ewing said: “It will celebrate the very best of Scotland’s food and drink, our assets as a country of natural beauty as well as our rich creativity and cultural and ancestral heritage.

“Bannockburn Live is attracting people from across the globe with an affinity to Scotland and given the focus on Scotland’s past I am delighted that 39 individual clan organisations are participating in the event and also by the strong words of support being received from clan representatives both at home and abroad.”

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland said: “On the 700th anniversary of one of the most significant battles in Scotland’s history, we had to make sure we created an event to remember - and with such an exceptional amount of activity planned, Bannockburn Live is going to be simply breathtaking.”

Fowlis, one of Scotland’s leading Gaelic singers over the last decade, said: “I am very much looking forward to taking part in the Bannockburn Festival, the line-up is fantastic and it promises to be an exciting weekend.

“This unique festival will look back to commemorate the milestone of 700 years since the Battle of Bannockburn, whilst celebrating the best of contemporary Scotland.”