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Pony express (train)

Press Release   •   May 28, 2018 13:15 BST

Two year-old Myrren Bell and Chloe McGurk (16) and Sage the Shetland Pony receive their ticket to the Common Ridings from conductor William Taylor .

VISITSCOTLAND is encouraging visitors, especially young people, to travel to the Scottish Borders by train this summer to experience the region’s unique Common Ridings and festivals.

The events celebrate the remarkable history and unique identity of the region, upholding ancient traditions with hundreds of horses and their riders gathering in 11 of the region’s town over the course of the summer.

As well as the opportunity to witness the unforgettable equine spectacle, there are a whole host of activities and associated celebrations that young people and families can get involved in.

By looking to the past, each Borders town takes its turn, throughout June, July and August, to uphold traditions dating back centuries and bring their communities together to take part in activities ranging from torchlight processions to fancy dress parades.

The local celebrations involve everything from theatre to athletics and from gymkanas to dancing the reel. Many of the festivals involve young people with local school children and community groups taking a leading role in the celebrations.

The re-establishment of the Borders Railway means that the traditional Borders Common Ridings and festivals are now more accessible than ever before. As part of the Borders Railway Blueprint partnership, the national tourism organisation seeks to maximize benefits from the new Borders Railway.

Paula Ward, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said: “During the Year of Young People, I would encourage young people and families from all over Scotland to make the journey on the Borders Railway to experience what is truly one of the country’s best kept secrets and a fantastic day out to boot.

“The Common Ridings are one of the oldest equestrian festivals in the world and a wonderful spectacle to witness. Their many association traditions and celebrations also offer fantastic opportunities for visitors, especially families, to get involved, and not just on horseback!

“Where else in the country can you wake up to the sound of a pipe band and witness hundreds of horses and their riders gallop across the dramatic landscape of the Scottish Borders. And this can be topped off with great music, dancing in the street and fancy dress competitions - all in one day!

“The Common Ridings and festivals can attract more than 110,000 visitors and provide a major boost to the local visitor economy*. VisitScotland works closely with communities and businesses to showcase the rich assets, hidden gems and local stories of every region in Scotland. We hope to encourage young people and families especially to make the journey on the Borders Railway to soak up the atmosphere at these unique events this year.

Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, said: “The Common Ridings and summer festivals are iconic events in the Scottish Borders, which people from across the world visit every year.

“With the Borders Railway, it is now even easier to access much of the Borders so I would encourage people of all ages who have not experienced one of our festivals to see for themselves what a fantastic day out it is.”

ScotRail Alliance Tourism Manager Alasdair Smart said: “We’re really looking forward to once again help visitors from across the country, and beyond, travel to the Common Ridings and experience the natural beauty of the Borders.

“Tourism is a key economic sector in Scotland and we recognise the critical role we play in it. Supporting tourism, businesses and local communities is a key part of our plan to build the best railway that Scotland has ever had.”

For more information on the Common Ridings and festivals, including travel information, visit: http://returntotheridings.co.uk/

For more information on the Common Ridings, visit: https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/events/common-ridings/

For more information on some of the associated parades and celebrations, visit: https://www.scotborders.gov.uk/directory/22/marches_and_parades/category/356

Ends

*In the Year of Homecoming 2014, there were 111,830 visitors to the Border Common Riding festivals. 

Notes to Editors

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2018 Year of Young People

  • The Year of Young People 2018 will be the next of the Scottish Government’s series of themed years, following the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.
  • The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally
  • Central to YoYP 2018 will be a celebratory events programme that puts young people at the heart of its development and delivery, creating new and valuable experiences for young Scots and the wider public, with links to the inaugural 2018 European Championships.
  • Over 200 young people throughout Scotland are currently being recruited to become YoYP 2018 Ambassadors. Ambassadors will ensure that people and organisations in their communities know about what’s happening and will lead on projects and activities to create events and opportunities to celebrate young people.
  • The Year of Young People will have six themes which were developed in co-production with young people themselves:
  • oParticipation – looking at how young people can influence public services and decisions which affect their lives
  • oEducation – creating a stronger role for young people in shaping their learning
  • oHealth and Wellbeing – supporting young people to lead healthier, active lives and have opportunities to learn about and improve their mental health and resilience
  • oEquality and Discrimination – broadcasting the value of young Scots, challenging negative perceptions of young people, and supporting young people to take leading roles in challenging discrimination in all its forms.
  • oEnterprise and regeneration – celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live
  • oCulture – celebrating young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.
  • Further information on what’s happening and how people can get involved can be found on the new website www.yoyp2018.scot or @YOYP2018 on Twitter.