Homecoming 2014 - the Western Isles is the place to be

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The Western Isles is the place to be in 2014 as Scotland celebrates the Year of Homecoming with three events to take place as part of the national programme.

The Harris Tweed Hebrides 2014 (Tatu Innse Gall), organised by the Stornoway Amenity Trust, have been awarded £20,000 from Homecoming Scotland for the two day event which will take place on August 8th and 9th. Stornoway Running and Athletics Club (SRAC) will also stage The Callanish Stones Marathon the same weekend (sponsored by The Pentland Road Windfarm). The Tattoo will involve pipe bands from across Scotland and possibly an appearance by the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University Pipe Band from British Columbia who have already expressed an interest in attending.

The event will centre on Lews Castle Green for the Tattoo but will also include a Grand Concert which may feature some big-name musical performances.

Tattoo Hebrides was first held in 2009 and was a great success but organisers say they have learned lessons from staging the first Tattoo and aim to make the 2014 event even better.

The Hebridean Celtic Festival will also celebrate its 19th year in 2014 and has received funding from Homecoming Scotland.

First Minister Alex Salmond, alongside Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland.

Homecoming Scotland 2014 is being delivered by VisitScotland and EventScotland in conjunction with the Scottish Government to provide an opportunity for communities all over the country to celebrate the very best of Scottish culture.

Around 100 events were unveiled at the launch, with hundreds more expected to be confirmed over the next few months. This includes many new events, established events which will have a new homecoming element for 2014 and those that have joined through the partner programme to benefit from in-kind marketing. The five themes of Homecoming 2014 - active, food and drink, creative, natural and ancestry are all represented.

An all-star concert to herald the opening of the Ryder Cup, a huge flotilla to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge, Europe’s biggest brass band festival and a thrilling re-enactment of the Battle of Bannockburn are just some of the spectacular events that will mark Scotland’s 2014 Year of Homecoming.

Brand new events include the John Muir Festival in East Lothian to herald the opening of the John Muir coast to coast route, the Forth Road Bridge Festival to mark its 50th anniversary, a spectacular Ryder Cup opening concert, the Findhorn Bay Arts Festival in Moray, the World Sheepdog Trials in Tain and the European Festival of Brass in Perthshire.

Many existing events, including Hogmanay, Edinburgh Festivals, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, the Royal National MOD, the Turriff Show, the East Neuk Festival, the Shetland Nature Festival and Tweedlove Bike Festival will receive funding for new and exciting Homecoming additions to their planned programmes for 2014.

With around 50 million people around the world claiming Scottish heritage, diaspora and clan-related events form a key part of Homecoming. These include around 30 events, including the celebrations to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the 10th Clan Munro International Gathering, the Aboyne Highland Games, The Inverness Highland Meeting 2014, the Dunfermline Bruce Festival and Piping Live.

An events fund of £3m will provide a stunning all-year-round programme of activity to complement the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games and it will be backed by a £1.75M marketing campaign by VisitScotland which will promote Homecoming 2014 at home and abroad.

First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Scotland is preparing to welcome the world during our second Year of Homecoming in 2014. Next year, people from all across the globe with Scottish connections – and those without - will come to our country to celebrate with friends and family and enjoy the huge programme of events that I am delighted to unveil today.

“Fantastic expressions of culture such as Europe’s biggest brass band festival will sit alongside the exciting commemorations of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and a variety of celebrations of Scotland’s heritage, history and food and drink in a 12 month schedule that truly does offer something for everyone in every corner of the country.

“We are already preparing to stage two of the largest sporting events on the planet during 2014, and with the packed programme of events being announced today – and many more in the pipeline – there really couldn’t be a better time to plan a trip to Scotland and join in the fun.”

Alan Mackenzie, VisitScotland Island manager said: “These events to mark Homecoming Scotland 2014 will see a positive focus on the Outer Hebrides and allow visitors the chance to see more of this outstanding area.

“With the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, the eyes of the world will be firmly on Scotland in 2014. Next year’s Homecoming will position the Outer Hebrides as a must-visit destination for everyone - whatever their interests!”