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Homecoming Scotland 2009


For those with a love of Scotland, or Scottish connections, 2009 promises to be a bumper year of festivities and events. You are invited to come home to Scotland and join in the national Homecoming, including celebrations of the 250th anniversary of the birth of the national poet Robert Burns. Homecoming Scotland 2009 embraces over one hundred festivals and events organised throughout the country from Burns Night on the 25th January to St Andrews Day on the 30th November. There will be celebrations of Scottish music and culture, Scottish innovation, golf and whisky, as well as events paying tribute to the life and work of the poet himself. 

The Poet

Born in Alloway, Ayrshire in 1759, Robert Burns became renowned throughout the world as a poet and lyricist. Perhaps you’re already acquainted with his most famous work, Auld Lang Syne, which has become the anthem of many national and international Hogmanay and New Year festivities and most recently featured in the smash hit Sex & The City movie when Carrie and Miranda celebrated their new year.
If you’re intrigued by this hero; a poor man, an educated man and a ladies man, who has come to represent Scotland around the globe, you can find out more about his life and work at several museums across  Scotland.  Check out his birthplace at the Burns National Heritage Park in Alloway or his home and the Burns centre in Dumfries. Next year you can also catch a major touring exhibition, the National Burns Collection, bringing together artefacts, manuscripts and treasures connected to the poet. 
The celebrations for the 250th Anniversary weekend will kick off with the official Homecoming Burns Supper in Alloway providing a centrepiece to The World Famous Burns Supper campaign, linking Burns Suppers held across the world in the biggest ever celebration of Robert Burns.  In Glasgow, honouring the influence of Burns on Scottish music and his importance is preserving the traditions of his own cultural background, the world renowned Celtic Connections festival celebrates his legacy with a programme of activity including their biggest concert to date; Auld Lang Syne, which will feature an array of famous artists in a fitting tribute to the great bard. In Dumfries, Burns Light presents a spectacular lantern procession through the medieval town to the poet’s final burial place, culminating in a stunning fire and firework show.
May will see Ayrshire busy with a family festival, the Mauchline Holy Fair, wihle Burns An ‘A’.  That festival will offer music, comeday and art events throughout the region.

Inspired, at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow from April to September, will showcase new pieces of  contemporary art by internationally renowned artists who have been inspired by the life and poetry and songs of Burns.   Featured artists will include Tracy Emin, John Byrne and David Mach.
In Edinburgh in August one of Scotland’s most iconic events, The Edinburgh Military Tattoo, embraces the work of Robert Burns as the theme of their stirring production set against the backdrop of the dramatic Edinburgh Castle.  

Scottish Roots and Clans

One of the most anticipated events of the year will be the Gathering, from 25-26 July in Edinburgh. Highlights include the World Highland Games Championships and a clan parade from Holyrood Palace along the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle, culminating in a spectacular historic pageant at the Castle’s esplanade. Everyone is invited and many thousands of clan members are expected. To find out which clan you have links to and which tartan you should wear, try searching the clan database at www.ancestralscotland.com. You can also find out which clans will be represented at the Gathering and ensure your place at the event  by booking a ticket at www.clangathering.org.

Finding out more about your Scottish ancestors through family history research has been transformed bywww.scotlandspeoplehub.gov.uk It is a fantastic new official government resource where you can view and print out copies of birth, death and marriage certificates, census information and wills for a small fee. Be sure to start your research from home to get the most out of a trip to Scotland. To get going, sign on for free credits to the site by going to www.ancestralscotland.com (dating back almost 500 years).  You can begin your investigations independently or book a researcher to help you find out more about your Scottish family. and follow the link – you’ll soon be caught up in the past lives of your ancestors! Scotland’s People Centre, which opened in Edinburgh on 25th August 2008, has brought together millions of family history documents.

In 2009 Scotland’s People Centre will host a series of exhibitions revealing the genealogy and family history of six ‘Famous Scots’.
In July the International Genealogy Festival and Conference hosted by Strathclyde University will bring together experts in Scottish genealogy with four days of lectures and events. In the North East of Scotland the Clan Fortnight will offer various events including a Clan Ball in Drum Castle and the chance to meet Clan members at the highland games in Aboyne. September will see the annual Dundee and Angus Roots Festival with access to extensive local history resources and the first Clan Scott Gathering will also take place this month at its ancestral home, Bowhill in the Scottish Borders.

Whisky

Anyone who has enjoyed the classic Ealing comedy Whisky Galore, based on the book by Sir Compton Mackenzie, will enjoy the prospect of a Whisky Galore Festival in September on the Isle of Barra, where it was filmed. You will be able to take part in the hunt for whisky and just enjoy the fun on this small Hebridean island. For those with a more serious approach to their whisky, May has been designated as Whisky Month. Take part in a three day whisky course in Fife, or head further north to visit the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in the North East, where you can visit the largest concentration of distilleries in Scotland. Get some inside info by attending one of the master classes led by industry experts, as well as tours and tastings which are organised in distilleries not always open to the public. On the west coast, in addition to the sell-out annual Islay annual Malt and Music Festival, Taste the Dram(a), located in the grounds of Inverary Castle, is a weekend long celebration of culture, heritage and distilleries that dominate the rugged West Coast of Scotland.