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Scotland makes history

Press Release   •   Dec 07, 2016 11:29 GMT

Scotland's six World Heritage Sites are painted on the faces of models

A Great Roman Bake-Off,large scale projections of Viking imagery, a live archaeological dig of St Kilda in Minecraft and a colourful international weaving festival are just a few of the events lined up to make history in 2017.

With over one third of visitors drawn to Scotland for its history and culture, VisitScotland has hailed the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology as an exciting opportunity to relive Scotland’s fascinating past through a range of events and activities.

Launched today by Cabinet Secretary, Fiona Hyslop at Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh, the year will inspire visitors to #facethepast, in new and innovative ways.

A total of nine events - supported by a £300,000 Signature Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology Events Fund have been announced with more to be revealed in the coming weeks.

Highlights of the programme (which includes both brand new events and new programmes within existing events) include a spectacular sound and light projection event at New Lanark World Heritage Site to bring to life the mill as it was in the heart of the Industrial Revolution (Shining Lives).The Heart of Neolithic Orkney will “Glow in the ArchaeoDark” on World Heritage Day with interactive storytelling, music, food and glow-in-the-dark paint (Scotland in Six). And a unique event in the Outer Hebrides will celebrate the islands’ rich South Asian history with music and art collaboration, exhibitions and performances (Purvai).

The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology Signature Event Programme*:

Edinburgh Georgian Shadows23 Feb – 26 March 2017Edinburgh
Scotland in Six18 April 2017(World Heritage Day)Scotland-wide
Tradfest Edinburgh26 Apr –7 May 2017Edinburgh
Paisley’s International Festival of Weaving1 & 2 July 2017Paisley
PurvaiAugust 2017Stornoway
Follow the Vikings Roadshow & Festival2& 3 September 20178& 9 September 2017Shetland
Horsepower9 September 2017Falkirk
Mary Queen of Scots FestivalSeptember 2017Kinross and Loch Leven
Shining LivesAutumn 2017 New Lanark World Heritage Site

With ancestral tourism worth £101 million to the economy, the Scottish Clan Event Fund is supporting nine more events throughout 2017 to the value of £37,800, including:

Clan Maclean International Gathering 2017 (20 - 25 June 2017)

Burnett Gathering (31 Jul - 5 Aug 2017)

Clan Hay ‘Tartan Ties’ (3 - 6 August)

Clan MacPherson Annual Gathering (4-7 August)

Stewart Highland Games (8 July)

Clan Carmichael International Gathering (21 - 26 August)

2017 Elliot Gathering (24 - 27 August)

Clan MacThomas Gathering 2017 (23 - 28 August)

Clan Lamont Society Annual Gathering: ‘Hands Across the Seas’ (1 - 3 Sept 2017)

The year also provides the opportunity to promote and celebrate a much wider programme of events celebrating Scotland’s history, heritage and archaeology. Partner events within the year include Scot:Lands, which kicks off the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology celebrations on 1 January with an adventurous journey across Edinburgh’s Old Town, closely followed by Celtic Connections (19 Jan – 5 Feb) -the UK's premier celebration of Celtic music.And at the end of January, the national bard will come into focus with Robert Burns events celebrating the poet’s rich history.

In April (1-16) Edinburgh International Science Festival will celebrate Scotland’s Themed Year with Moments in Time – a family friendly outdoor installation, situated on the Mound featuring a series of iconic Scottish police boxes that will ‘transport’ visitors back in time to pivotal moments in Scotland’s scientific history.

Over the summer season, visitors and residents alike can soak up Scottish historical culture with the Festival of Museums (May), a major Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland (June – Nov) and in August, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo will unite with the Scottish Diaspora to create a ‘Splash of Tartan’.

Scotland will be celebrating a number of significant anniversaries through the historical year including the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh as a world leading festival city (with early celebrations beginning at Edinburgh Hogmanay’s Midnight Moment), the 20th anniversary of Scottish Crannog Centre, 250th anniversary of Edinburgh New Town Plan, 30th anniversary of Beltane Fire Society and the 400th anniversary of the General Register of Sasines –the oldest public land register in the world.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs said:

“We are so fortunate in Scotland to have the most fascinating and inspiring history and heritage on our doorsteps, bringing the spirit of Scotland alive. The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology will highlight and showcase our history and heritage to the world and I am very pleased to have today announced nine of the events being supported by the £300,000 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology Signature Events Fund.”

“As well as our history of many well-known stories and famous, indeed some infamous, historical characters, next year will also give us an excellent opportunity to focus on Scotland’s world-renowned archaeology, enticing visitors and locals alike to visit not only our known iconic landmarks with their thousands of years of history, but also our many hidden gems.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said:

Scotland is the land where great legends were made throughout history, and so it is only apt that we should have such a unique line-up of events and activities for the 2017 Year of History Heritage and Archaeology.

“We know for a fact that visitors come to Scotland in their droves to experience its heritage whether that’s visiting a castle, exploring a battlefield or tracing ancestral roots.From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends – the year-long programme will spotlight some of our greatest assets and icons as well as our hidden gems. We look forward to delving into Scotland’s past with visitors and locals alike and coming face to face with history, heritage and archaeology across the country.”

As a main partner, the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting the year with a dedicated programme called Stories, Stones and Bones. The £1/2million fund will encourage people in communities across the country to uncover and celebrate their local history, customs and traditions.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the lead public body for Scotland’s historic environment, will also be carrying out research work, increasing its programme of living history events across the country from Duff House to Edinburgh Castle, and training Scotland’s young people in the provision of traditional skills that will help protect Scotland’s historic buildings now and for the future.

Lucy Casot, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:

“Our ambition next year is that everyone, young and old, will have the chance to discover something new about the rich tapestry that makes Scotland, Scotland. The door to fun, discovery and learning will be opened wide welcoming in locals and visitors alike. Whether its enjoying one of these incredible Signature celebrations, or getting involved in one of the many community-level projects, funded through the National Lottery, 2017 is up shaping up to be an exciting celebration of our shared identity and we are delighted to be a key part of that.”

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland, said:

“It’s great to come together today to launch a themed year that is so closely linked with the work of Historic Environment Scotland. It’s fantastic to have so many partners working collaboratively to help make sure our country’s history and heritage is understood, protected, valued and enjoyed. To celebrate the year, we’ll be running a range of activities, including a fantastic events programme with some brand new events, launching new research projects including one exploring Scotland’s prehistoric rock art, and asking people to think about what history they care about with our ‘What’s Your Heritage?’ campaign.”

The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 will begin on 1 January 2017 and end on 31 December 2017.For more information, please visit:

The launch hashtag is #facethepast and the hashtag for the year is #HHA2017

- ENDS -*More events will be announced in early 2017.

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.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit or follow @scotgovESIF
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      2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design started on 1 January 2016 and will end on 31 December 2016.It will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. 
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016