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St Andrew's Day launch for Scotland's newest winter light spectacular

Press Release   •   Oct 11, 2016 11:12 BST

Irvine’s historic waterfront will shimmer into life this St Andrew’s Day as the Scottish Maritime Museum in North Ayrshire launches the country’s newest art and light winter spectacular, illumination: Harbour Festival of Light.

Highlights of illumination, which will take place along Irvine Harbourside and at the nearby Scottish Maritime Museum, include a free firework display celebrating St Andrew’s Day and a free water-themed sculpture trail by international light artists Aether & Hemera, who are exhibiting in Scotland for the first time.

illumination, which has received support as part of the Scotland’s Winter Festivals events programme, will also feature breath-taking aerial acrobatic performances within the Museum, a community lantern parade and closing fireworks on Saturday 3rd December.

The four day festival, which will run from dusk to 10pm daily, will begin on St Andrew’s Day on Wednesday 30th November when the Saltire blazes across the night sky in a stunning, free pyrotechnic display over Irvine Harbour.

The launch night fireworks will mark Scotland’s national day, designed to celebrate the country’s history, culture and heritage with people both at home and abroad.

The free illumination Light Trail at the heart of the festival, which has also been made possible through funding from North Ayrshire Council, Creative Scotland, Arts & Business Scotland through a New Arts Sponsorship Grant, Caledonian MacBrayne, Booth Welsh and in-kind sponsorship from NPL Estates and media partner West FM, will feature three beautiful, sculpted light installations.

Created by the trailblazing art and design collective Aether and Hemera, ‘Voyage’, ‘On the Wings of Freedom’ and ‘Dreamt Vessels’ will twinkle along the River Irvine and within the Museum courtyard.

The hundreds of brightly coloured and handcrafted origami boats and butterflies explore freedom, imagination and travel. These and illuminated boats and buildings along the Harbourside will take visitors on a magical journey between 4pm and 10pm each day.

Nearby, at the Harbourside Museum, the colossal façade of the A Listed Linthouse will be animated for the first time in its 150 years with pulsating colours for the illumination Light and Aerial Art Spectacular.

Inside the glass roofed former shipyard,suspended from the original girders, Spinal Chord will perform gravity defying aerial acrobatics on rope silks and trapeze high above beautiful boats and awesome relics of maritime engineering.

Dancing rays and radiant beams will shine a light over the aerial acrobatics as well as 20 historic vessels and exhibits as part of the moving, ‘theatre in the round’ ticketed performance, which will take place four times each day.

The free illumination Lantern Parade, created in collaboration with Harbour Arts Centre and Ayrshire Youth Arts, will take place at 6pm on Saturday 3rd December.

illumination, which also celebrates the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016, will then come to a close with a second firework display later that evening.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“St Andrew’s Day is the perfect opportunity for Scots and Scots at heart around the world to celebrate all that is great about our nation – including our thriving contemporary culture, our rich heritage and our first class food and drink.

“We are a country renowned for our warm hospitality, and what better way to mark our 10th Scotland’s Winter Festivals than honouring one of our patron Saint’s most inspiring traits - sharing. This St Andrew’s Day, in the spirit of St Andrew, I encourage everyone to take the time to share – be it a conversation, pot of tea, or even invite someone to the many St Andrew’s Day events happening up and down the country, such as illumination : Harbour Festival of Light.”

David Mann, Director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, added:

“We have been overwhelmed with the support we have received to create a new national celebration for St Andrew’s Day and showcase Ayrshire and Arran as an exciting, year-round destination.

“illumination, which centres on beautiful, internationally commissioned design and complements our growing art collection, will be the perfect start to the festive season for visitors from Scotland and beyond.

“An amazing, multi sensory celebration, we hope illumination goes on to grow into a must-see annual event.”

VisitScotland Regional Director Annique Armstrong said:

“This exciting new festival promises to be a spectacular visual delight and a superb celebration both of St Andrew’s Day and the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. Scotland’s National Day is a great opportunity to commemorate the heritage and culture of our country, and this themed year is providing a fantastic platform to showcase Scottish creativity and ingenuity of the past and the present. illumination: Harbour Festival of Light will be a fitting tribute to all of these incredible assets, as well as the wealth of cultural riches which Ayrshire & Arran boasts. I hope that as many people as possible, both from the local community and from further afield, will join the celebrations and come along to the Scottish Maritime Museum and Irvine Harbourside to enjoy the stunning entertainments planned.”

Councillor Alex Gallagher, Cabinet Member for Economy, North Ayrshire Council, said:

"We are delighted to support the Winter light spectacular which will take place at the Scottish Maritime Museum and Irvine Harbourside to celebrate St Andrew's Day.

"This exciting, new event will attract visitors from near and far and will provide a welcome boost to tourism in North Ayrshire."

Karen Dick, Place, Partnerships and Communities Officer at Creative Scotland, said:

“Illumination presents an innovative and inspiring programme of events, celebrating the rich cultural heritage of North Ayrshire and showcasing Irvine’s iconic waterfront. We look forward to seeing the local community and those from further afield coming together to explore the harbourside during this exciting new festival. Building on the legacy of George Wyllie’s installation The Paper Boat we are sure this festival will be just as memorable.”

Arts & Business Scotland Chief Executive David Watt said:

“illumination, Harbour Festival of Light is an exciting new venture which we’re delighted to support through the New Arts Sponsorship Grants. This is a wonderful addition to Scotland’s Winter Festivals programme and we wish organisers every success with their first festival.”

illumination Light Trail

Voyage, a fleet of tiny boats made of recyclable polypropolene and lit by vibrant yet low energy LED lights, was created as part of a project to transform city waterfronts in the USA, Spain, and Australia.

Afloat on the River Irvine, visitors will be able to watch the mesmerising colours change or help direct the interactive show using their mobile or tablet.

On the Wings of Freedom, a kaleidoscope of glowing butterflies, which symbolises renewal and freedom, was commissioned for Amsterdam Light Festival 2014.

Dreamt Vessels, a flotilla of sculpted blue luminescent boats, was inspired by the spirit of the great explorer James Cook and the iconic Yorkshire beacon Roseberry Topping which he climbed as a young boy.

illumination Light and Aerial Art Spectacular

Daily performances will take place at 4.30pm, 5.45pm, 7.00pm and 8.30pm.

Tickets can be purchased from Eventbrite or through

Getting SMMArt

illumination: Harbour Festival of Light also shines a light on the Scottish Maritime Museum’s ambitious three year SMMArt programme to create an art collection of national significance.

The event follows ‘George Wyllie – The Paper Boat’, an exhibition celebrating the giant and iconic public art sculpture, which made headlines across the world in the 1990’s. The exhibition featured two of the surviving pieces of the famous project which have been acquired by the Museum, the QM insignia and tender boat.

The growing art collection brings an exciting new dimension to the Museum’s nationally recognised collection of maritime heritage.

For more information, visit or contact Joanne Harrison, 07884 187404. 

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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.
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