Homecoming Boost for Highland Economy
Tourism in the Highlands looks set to enjoy a significant boost as part of the Homecoming Scotland 2014 programme following the announcement of support for a number of events by First Minister Alex Salmond and VisitScotland Chairman, Mike Cantlay at the official launch at Hopetoun House in South Queensferry today.
Caroline Packman, Homecoming Scotland 2014 Director, said: “2014 promises to be a very exciting year for Scotland where we can celebrate all that’s great about our country and place the spotlight on our greatest assets. We are delighted to have The Highland Homecoming Festival as part of the ever-extending Homecoming Scotland 2014 programme. The plans outlined present a fantastic opportunity for both visitors and locals to enjoy what’s set to be a series of great events.”
Among the highlights will be a 5 week celebration called The Highland Homecoming (Tilleadh dhan Ghàidhealtachd) which will see thousands of visitors making their way to Inverness for a series of unforgettable events.
Leader of The Highland Council, Councillor Drew Hendry welcomed the announcement by the First Minster, he said: “This is a very welcome boost to tourism in the Highlands which we can look forward to in 2014. We are working together with the Scottish Government to maximise the potential for Highland tourism which is a key commitment of the Council’s Administration. We are also working with partners to ensure appropriate and effective support is offered to promote our unique Highland identities, traditional sports and culture.”
Provost of Inverness Councillor Alex Graham added: “I am delighted that the City of Inverness will host a range of events to celebrate Homecoming Scotland 2014, which will also benefit the wider tourism market of the Highlands. This announcement at the Homecoming Scotland 2014 launch will have a significant impact in attracting overseas tourism to the Highlands and will also provide fantastic opportunities for our own domestic tourism market.”
The Highland Homecoming will open on Friday 12th September with the arrival of the Highland Clans in Inverness for the inaugural Inverness Highland Meeting (Cruinneachadh Gàidhealach Inbhir Nis); a brand new inter-clan gathering in the Highland Capital which it is planned will take place each year as part of the city’s Kirking Weekend celebrations.
As well as being invited to take part in Sunday’s Kirking Parade through the streets of Inverness; the Clans are also being invited to play a leading role in a spectacular celebration to mark the 150th Anniversary of the opening of the world’s oldest Highland Games Stadium Northern Meeting Park; an occasion which will be remembered by the historic launch of a brand new second annual Highland Games for Inverness.
The inaugural Inbhir Nis Homecoming Highland Games (13-14 September) will feature the 2014 Masters World Championships (MWC) – the world’s biggest Highland Games competition which is contested by Heavies aged 40 years and over. Organised by Scottish Masters International based in Illinois USA, the MWC attracts athletes from around the international Highland Games circuit with competitors from as far away as New Zealand and Japan expected to join their counterparts from North America and Europe. The Inverness Highland Meeting weekend will also feature the climax of the 2014 Blas Festival and Shinty’s Camanachd Cup Final.
Following the Inverness Raft Race, Loch Ness Marathon and Inverness Street Theatre Festival ensuring that the Homecoming Highland Festival will climax with two of the most eagerly anticipated Gaelic events in recent years.
Conceived and artistically directed by composer Jim Sutherland, who was raised in Thurso and lives in Edinburgh, the Struileag / Shore to Shore project has been gathering testimony and artistic contributions from Gaels around the world in preparation for a performance incorporating poetry, music and film at Eden Court Theatre. The show will be streamed live around the world, and will live on as a book, a recording and a DVD.
The Highland Homecoming Festival will then climax with the 2014 Royal National MOD which will be feature performances around Inverness City Centre and showcase all aspects of the Gaelic language, culture, history and heritage at local, national and international levels.
The final event of the Highland Homecoming Festival will be one of the traditional sporting highlights of the year in the Highlands; the annual Shinty Hurling International between Scotland and Ireland at Bught Park on the banks of the River Ness.