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Return of the Mac

Press Release   •   Nov 19, 2015 12:59 GMT

It is an invention which has been at the heart of tourism in Scotland for decades, keeping visitors dry through many a “Scottish summer”.

And today, VisitScotland paid homage to the iconic Mackintosh coat (invented by Scottish chemist, Charles Macintosh in 1823) while launching the events, activities and inspiration that will make up the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.

From festivals of light, to festivals of architecture, luminous origami birds to Harris Tweed celebrations, digital gaming to Renaissance fashion, a stunning variety of events will take place the length and breadth of the country during 2016.  Highlights include:

  • Clo Mor Festival of Harris Tweed (Outer Hebrides)
  • In Vogue – a fashion show of the centuries (Stirling Castle)
  • Luminous Birds – art installations encouraging communities to celebrate their surroundings (Aberdeen, Dumfries & Galloway, Glasgow)
  • Craft Scotland – Meet Your Maker (Scotland-wide)
  • Edinburgh International Science Festival – including a Tiny Home Trail (Edinburgh)
  • World Canals Public Programme (Highlands)
  • Building Blocks at Glasgow School of Art (Glasgow)
  • SPECTRA – Festival of Light (Aberdeen)
  • Ignite – celebration of creativity in our City of Design (Dundee)

The programme of 28 events announced today with a funding value of £265,350 joins the Festival of Architecture in an exciting line-up that will shine a spotlight on some of Scotland’s greatest assets, icons and hidden gems throughout the year. 

Running throughout 2016, with more than 400 events and exhibitions taking place the length and breadth of Scotland, the Festival of Architecture is co-ordinated by The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS). Announced in July, the Festival will receive £300,000 from the Scottish Government and £100,000 from VisitScotland.

Leading public arts organisation NVA will mark the official launch of the Festival of Architecture in March 2016 by inviting audiences to experience Scotland’s greatest modernist building, St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, with a night-time public art event exactly 50 years since the iconic building was first opened.

The event, which has secured £85,000 from VisitScotland and £50,000 from the Scottish Government, will be a key highlight of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design celebrations. It will give audiences a unique opportunity to discover one of Europe’s most important buildings ahead of its reclamation as an international platform for arts and heritage set to open in 2018. 

In addition to the funded events programme announced today, there will also be a wide range of partnership events celebrating the three themes including Architecture and Design Scotland’s ‘Say Hello to Architecture’ programme, Edinburgh International Fashion Festival, and Doors Open Day.

VisitScotland is also putting innovation at the heart of its wider activity for 2016. In June, young creatives in Scotland were invited to design the official logo used to promote the year across domestic and international marketing campaigns. The organisation is also working with Interface to challenge teams from Higher and Further Education to create an innovative digital resource that will be at the heart of Scotland’s marketing during 2016.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“The exciting programme for the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design announced today will showcase Scotland’s greatest contemporary assets, innovative icons and hidden architectural gems, inspiring visitors and people from all over Scotland to get involved.

“From Styling the Nation through to the Festival of Architecture, these events - which take place in every corner of this country - will demonstrate our track record of excellence in innovation and design.”

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said:

“With this new themed year we have the opportunity to put Scotland on the map in a new and exciting way, catching the attention of visitors old and new, positioning Scotland as a mix of traditional and cutting-edge at the same time.

“Scotland is a nation of pioneers, home to ground-breaking scientists, philosophers, engineers and architects for hundreds of years.  From the Forth Rail Bridge to Dolly the Sheep, the telephone to the television, Charles Rennie Mackintosh to Andy Scott, and Harris Tweed to the iconic Mackintosh raincoat, Scotland’s innovative past, present and future continue to inspire and influence audiences across the globe, shaping the modern world we live in today.

“The events planned for the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016 are diverse, interesting and inspiring and we look forward to what we hope will be a ground-breaking year for tourism.”

Stewart Murdoch, chair of UNESCO City of Design Dundee and Dundee's Director of Leisure and Culture, said:

“Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design will be a thrilling celebration of our nation’s great creative strengths, and the programme of new activities commissioned especially for the year will help reach new audiences and communities throughout Scotland.

“In Dundee we’re delighted that projects including Abertay University’s Dare ProtoPlay computer games festival and the Ignite Dundee festival have received support to deliver bigger, better events that will reach more people, inspiring them to unleash their own creative potential.”

Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life, who manages Scotland Street School Museum in Glasgow, where today’s launch took place said:

“The name Charles Rennie Mackintosh is synonymous with architecture and design. His iconic Scotland Street School is a must see for Mackintosh fans as a fantastic example of his architectural style. With many features built into the stonework and staircases, there is something to admire around every corner. Now a popular, free-to-enter museum, it tells the story of 100 years of education in Scotland, from the late 19th century on.  We hope to welcome many new visitors during the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.”

Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design will begin on 1 January 2016.  For more information, visit
Join the conversation #IAD2016

Notes to Editors

    • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
    • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
    • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
    • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
      1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
      2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
      3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
      4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
      5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
      6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
      7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
    • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
    • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
    • According to a recent Deloitte study, the tourism economy supports 270,000 jobs in Scotland in 20,000 diverse businesses. The same study calculates that the tourism      economy contributes £11 billion annually (direct and indirect impact, including day visits) and supports around 10 per cent of employment in Scotland. Almost 16 million tourists take overnight trips to Scotland.
    • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
    • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
    • For holiday information on Scotland go to
    • For information about business events in Scotland go to

    Year of Food and Drink 2015

    • 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of Scotland’s natural larder and the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success.
    • Scotland generates over £2.5m per day through food and drink tourism.
    • A series of themed months will create an appetite for key areas of Scotland’s food and drink industries – from seafood and whisky to berries and high-quality meat
    • For more information, visit