Highlands get set to welcome the world
Issued by Visit Scotland
From sheepdogs to star-gazing, fiddlers to fly-pasts, strong-men to sound sessions, the Highlands are getting ready to take centre stage during September and October with a two-month long programme celebrating the Year of Homecoming.
Highland Homecoming is set to be an unforgettable celebration of contemporary art, literature, sport and music, as well celebrating the country’s expansive rich heritage and tradition.
A funding figure of £170,000 has been assigned to 13 Highland Homecoming events and festivals taking place during September and October to stage this huge celebration which includes both brand new and existing events with an added Homecoming twist for 2014.
Celebrations kick-off with the 2014 World Sheepdog Trials (3 – 6 Sep) in Tain. The competition which takes places for the very first time in Scotland will welcome over 240 people from 25 countries, and will be dedicated to showing the care, skill and dedication of this wonderful and much-loved working dog.
Camans, Clans and Championship Courses
Sporting events play a big part in the Highland Homecoming celebrations. The world class downhill tracks at Fort William’s Nevis Range will play host to the WEMBO World Solo 24Hr MTB Championship (11-12 October). With entries coming in from all corners of the globe, including current World Champion Jess Douglas from Australia and entries from Lithuania, USA, France and New Zealand, Fort William is getting ready to well and truly welcome the world at this thrill seeking event.
Shinty’s show-piece event The Camanachd Cup Final (13 September) will see the two top teams in the game compete for one of Scotland’s oldest and most iconic sporting trophies. Shinty will also be celebrated as a key part of the tenth Blas Festival (5-13 September). ‘Home and Away’ will bring together some of the finest musicians, images and singers to celebrate the game of the Gael at Tighnabruaich, Inverinate and Inverness during Camanachd Cup Final week. The annual Shinty/Hurling International fixture against the Irish will take place in Inverness on the last day of the Royal National Mod (18th October).
The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running (28 September), which is now in its 13th year, will feature an exciting enhanced programme of activity alongside the popular Loch Ness Marathon, 10K, 5K and Wee Nessie races and Baxters Food & Drink Fayre. This will include the Run Home Clan Challenges and a Run Home Whisky Festival to celebrate the Year of Homecoming.
Making a welcome return to Inverness as part of the Highland Homecoming Scotland celebrations and the Inverness Highland Meeting (12-14 September) will be the world's biggest Highland Games event - the Masters World Championships (MWC). 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 MWC will climax with the Tomatin Toss – a spectacular attempt at creating a new Simultaneous Caber Tossing World Record – complete with an unprecedented 180 Cabers being launched in the air.
The Inverness Highland Meeting will also open with the arrival of Highland Clans who are 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.
Culture, Craic, Clarsachs and Ceilidhs
Scotland’s biggest Gaelic Cultural Festival – Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail (The Royal National Mòd), will take place in Inverness this autumn (10-18 October) for the first time since 1997. Now in its 122nd year, the event will feature competitions in Highland Dancing, Gaelic Music and Song, Sport, Literature and Drama, offering Gaelic speakers of all levels to compete. Highlights include a Torchlight Procession, street theatre, the Fiddlers’ Rally at Eden Court and performances by Skerryvore, Ewen Henderson, Barluath, and renowned clarsach player Catriona Mackay.
Fort George will provide a spectacular setting for the Highland Military Tattoo (4 – 7 September) being staged as part of Highland Homecoming. Bringing together a mix of local, military and international acts, the Tattoo will showcase to visitors and local people alike the best of traditional and contemporary Highland culture from fiddlers to pipe bands, Highland dancers to Gaelic singers.
Starting with the RAF Typhoon fly past, this will be a memorable evening, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display.
The Blas festival (5-13 September) will take place across numerous venues including Inverness, Kingussie, Golspie, and Ullapool and will include a new commission this year interpreting Duncan Bàn MacIntyre’s epic Moladh Beinn Dòbhrain (In Praise of Ben Dorain) in Mìorbhail nam – one of the greatest nature poems composed in the Gaelic language. The finale to Blas 2014, will be a Ceòl nam Fèis concert – a showcase featuring the best of the young musicians and singers coming through the Fèis movement from across Scotland.
Blazin’ in Beauly (11 – 18 October) will once again welcome thousands of people to the little town of Beauly for the Blazin’ Fiddles experience! With top class tutors including Blazin’ Fiddles themselves; concerts, ceilidhs, sessions, masterclasses, comedy and plenty opportunity to delve into some good Highland craic, this is an experience both locals and visitors to the area are not going to want to miss!
Ancestry, Astronomy and Artists
Visitors to Culloden Homecoming (6-7 September) will get the chance to explore their family history as well as the opportunity to wander through a Jacobite camp and discover what life was really like in the 18th Century.
The unique Pictish and Norse heritage of the Far North of Scotland will be celebrated at Caithness Horizons Museum in Thurso until 25 October. During the weekend of the 24th and 25th October the Museum will be running a Norse themed “Vetrablot” or harvest festival event with storytelling, talks and cookery workshops.
If catching a glimpse of Polaris or The Plough is more your thing, the Dark Skye Star Party (25 October) at Clan Donald, Armadale will offer a stellar evening of presentations, planetarium and star gazing with the help of keen amateurs and professional astronomers.
Three days of Madness & Mayhem is on offer as Inverness comes alive with the Inverness Street Festival from 16-18th October 2014. Catch a wide variety of street entertainment at this free event which takes place in the Victorian Market, Eastgate Centre as well as the streets of Inverness.
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Highland Homecoming, which is taking place across September & October, is an excellent celebration of contemporary Highland culture and presents a tremendous economic opportunity for the local area as well as Scotland. The diverse range of events will, I am sure, appeal to visitors from both home and abroad.
“There really is something for everyone in the Homecoming Scotland 2014 programme with 970 events taking place throughout the year across the length and breadth of the country, extending the benefits of the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games and positioning Scotland on the international stage as a dynamic and creative country.”
The Provost of Inverness, Councillor Alex Graham said: “The Highland Homecoming programme is wide ranging and exciting, with interesting events which will attract locals and visitors alike. It takes full advantage of our beautiful natural environment, our great history and unique Gaelic culture. In the City of Inverness and right across the Highlands there will be something for everyone, and as well as providing tremendous entertainment I expect it to give the Highland economy a substantial boost.”
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland said: “The line-up for Highland Homecoming is nothing short of spectacular. From ancestry to astronomy, mountain biking to marathons, ceilidhs to cabers, the Highlands will light up with the outstanding sights and sounds of Scotland during September and October.
“2014 is an incredible year for Scotland providing the country with an unprecedented opportunity to shine in the global spotlight. I am delighted to see all the themes of this, the Year of Homecoming in the programme – active, ancestry, creative, natural, food and drink – and I am very much looking forward to attending the events and experiencing the wonderful culture and hospitality that the Highlands are so famous for.”
Ewen Mackinnon, 2014 World Sheepdog Trials said: “We are absolutely delighted to be part of the Highland Homecoming celebrations taking place during September and October this year. 2014 is a fantastic opportunity for Scotland to welcome the world as part of the Year of Homecoming celebrations, and the Sheepdog Trials is delighted to be welcoming competitors from as far afield as Spain and South Africa for the first time.
“Combine the fantastic events with a wealth of things on offer in the area including famous lochs, ancient monuments, fantastic outdoor activities and wonderful wildlife and it’s sure to be a fantastic celebration all round!”
In addition to the funded events, there will also be a variety of Highland Homecoming partner events that will benefit from the spin-off marketing and promotion of this world-wide campaign including Nature Nippers at Glencoe (until 5 Dec), The Famous Scottish Showtime (until 31 October), Dunvegan Castle Summer Exhibition (until 26 October), The Living History Clansmen Displays (until 7 September), GENERATION Art Exhibition (running until 31 October), Tattie Bogal (until 22 September), Nairn Book and Arts Festival (2-7 September), Skye Book Festival (4-6 September), Kilts up Ben Macdui (6 September), Knights of the North Highland Way Duathalon (7 September), Ivercharron Highland Games (20 September), Skye’s the Limit (20 September), Living Food at Cawdor Castle (20 September), Turning Leaves Book Festival (26 – 28 September), Feis in the Fort (4 - 5 October), Beer n’ Folk (17-19 October), Homecoming Textile Art (18-31 October), The Culloden Run (26 October), Skye Swing Jazz Festival (30 Oct – 2 November) and Inverness Halloween (30 & 31 October).
The Highland Homecoming 2014 Partner Programme is still open for events to enter. To sign up, visit www.eventscotland.org/partner_programme for more information or visit www.homecomingscotland.com.