EDINBURGH, Scotland – Beginning in January 2009, Scots from near and far, with Scottish roots or a passion for Scotland, can enjoy the welcoming embrace of Scotland’s “Homecoming” celebrations. Extending from January 24, 2009 (the 250th birthday of beloved Scots poet Robert Burns) to November 30, 2009 (St. Andrew’s Day), the countrywide Homecoming Scotland 2009 program will offer a series of cultural and heritage themed activities and festivals. With a jam-packed calendar of events themed by whisky, golf, Scottish innovation and a chance to enjoy events themed around Robert Burns, there will be something for visitors to enjoy every week of the year.
The first opportunity to sample Scotland’s Homecoming celebrations will be on Burns Night (January 24), a national holiday in Scotland. This festive event, similar to the American Thanksgiving, is celebrated with a uniquely Scottish dining experience (called a Burns supper) that features music, poetry readings and an “address to the haggis.” Burns Night 2009, marked by the 250th anniversary of his birth, will be celebrated with Burns’ suppers and special events in key locations across Scotland. In Glasgow, Celtic Connections, Scotland’s biggest winter music festival, will showcase internationally known contemporary performers influenced by Burns.
The month of May brings Scotland’s national Whisky Month and opportunities to explore the home of whisky. At the Spirit of Speyside Festival from May 1-10, the Scotch Whisky industry will open its doors with master blenders and distillery owners hosting special events, tastings and residential whisky courses for drinking in the history of Scotland’s “water of life.”
Scotland’s summer season will bid a warm welcome to visitors with major international events. The Gathering (July 25-26) will mark the largest Clan Gathering ever held on Scottish soil. In celebration of Scottish Clan contributions to world history and culture, Highland Games, featuring some of the worlds’ greatest pipers, dancers, and Highland athletes, will be held in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park. Another highlight of the celebration will be a spectacular Historic Clan Pageant beneath the ancient ramparts of Edinburgh Castle. Further to The Gathering, annual events including The Edinburgh Military Tattoo (August 7-30) and The Open Golf Championship (July 16-18), which returns to the Home of Golf in 2009, will include special Homecoming festivities.
Homecoming themed events will continue to enchant visitors through autumn with plans for a two-week cultural festival across the Highlands in October.
The finale to the Homecoming year will take place over St. Andrew’s Day with a major celebration of Scottish music, from traditional folk heroes to cutting-edge contemporary Scottish bands, showcasing the global impact of Scottish music.
In anticipation of the Homecoming calendar, those with Scottish roots can log onto the recently re-launched www.ancestralscotland.com to create a travel itinerary for tracing their family roots. The site includes useful links to databases for exploring birth and marriage records of their own ancestors and brand new clan itineraries to help MacGregors, Campbells and Rosses plan their own “homecoming” trip. To celebrate the re-launch, VisitScotland is offering free credits to search Scotland’s national record archive.
A detailed program with travel packages will be announced in June. For updates, or to sign up for the Homecoming newsletter visit: www.homecomingscotland2009.com. For information on booking a vacation to Scotland in 2009 visit www.cometoscotland.com.