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SPECTACULAR CELEBRATIONS CLOSE SCOTLAND’S YEAR OF HOMECOMING

Thousands of people gathered across the country today to join in the celebrations marking the end of Scotland’s Year of Homecoming.

The visually stunning events and festivals combined to make the biggest ever programme of events co-ordinated to mark St Andrew’s Day was showcased across Scotland with an estimated 200,000 people taking part. The spectacular programme featured more than 40 events across the country, many of them free. The finale programme began on 26 November and reached its conclusion today.

The Homecoming finale and St Andrew’s Day celebrations have been taking place across the country, offering an inspirational programme of event featuring live music, ceilidh’s, artistic performances, fireworks and fun, including Saturday’s vibrant Homecoming Live! at the SECC in Glasgow.  

As crowds turned out in force to enjoy the carnival atmosphere brought to Scotland by these events. Some of the main celebrations took place in Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire, East Lothian, Stirling and St Andrews.

Commenting Rob Murray Brown, director of the celebrations in St Andrews said: “We’re very pleased with this year’s festival line up and we’re delighting visitors from across Scotland and beyond with our celebration of Scotland’s music, culture and history.”

In Dumfries, an estimated 5,000 people joined the celebrations. Susan Garnsworthy, Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association said: “Dumfries Fling: The Reel Thing gave local people and visitors a chance to celebrate the rich culture of Scotland and indeed the history and heritage of Dumfries. Our Homecoming Scotland event effectively contributed to Scotland’s biggest ever St Andrew’s  DO and it was great to see so many people in the town getting involved in this unique celebration. There was a fantastic atmosphere during the Reel with all ages coming together to mark the end of this unique year.”

Dumfries Fling attracted many visitors to the area with local hoteliers reporting increased bookings.

Lee Cargill, Manager of the Queensberry Hotel, Dumfries said: “We were fully booked three to four weeks before the Homecoming Scotland finale weekend events, namely the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and the Scot Traditional Music Awards attracting people to Dumfries. Looking at the same time last year this weekend we are 70 per cent up on room bookings.”

As Homecoming was inspired by Robert Burns it was fitting that he featured prominently in the finale celebrations with an exhibition of letters from prominent historical figures to the Bard in Dear Mr Burns.

Bill Nolan of Irvine Burns Club, the organisers of Dear Mister Burns said: "The interest that has been generated in Irvine and in Irvine Burns Club through our Dear Mister Burns event has heightened an awareness of Irvine's role in the shaping of Robert Burns and we can build on that fresh awareness to provide a legacy for the future via cultural tourism.  We could not have staged our very popular Dear Mister Burns exhibition of letters from historical figures without our external funding partners whose support allowed us to be part of the Homecoming Scotland Finale Weekend.”

These success stories add to those already achieved over the course of the year with many Homecoming events breaking audience records.

First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Scotland’s Year of Homecoming has been a resounding success which has captured the imagination of people throughout the country and across the globe. During 2009 we invited everyone with links or an affinity for Scotland to come ‘home’ to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns and many of Scotland’s greatest contributions to the world.

“Over the year we have welcomed thousands of people to Scotland to take part in Homecoming and it has delivered real benefits to Scotland’s economy and tourism industry and is on track to exceed the target of £44 million worth of extra tourism revenue.

“More than 400 events have taken place to mark the event and I would like to thank everyone involved in making Homecoming 2009 such an incredible celebration of Scottish culture, innovation and heritage.”

Marie Christie, Homecoming Scotland Project Director said: “2009 has been the most tremendous year for Scotland with the whole country pulling together to create a unique celebration - the first of its kind. Every part of Scotland has celebrated Homecoming by creating inspirational events, helping to spread the word and bringing some of Scotland’s extended family and friends home to join in the celebrations.

“We’re on track to deliver a huge success for Scotland and this is due to the outstanding partnership shown by hundreds of organisations and thousands of individuals who have had a proactive part in delivering the celebrations.”

The many sell-out events and record breaking audience figures have combined with a major UK and international marketing campaign to ensure that Scottish tourism has thrived at this difficult economic time.

The celebrations began in January over the weekend of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns in spectacular style and have continued through the year with more than 400 events providing a celebration to remember with key milestones throughout the year.

The programme was backed by a major marketing and PR investment which started in 2007 - highlighting the events in more than 40 countries across the world. This promotional activity was supported by campaigns run by international companies, including The Famous Grouse, Walkers, Coca-Cola and Irn Bru.

Millions of people across the world watched the Caledonia advert, and campaigns like “I am a Scot” was seen by 95 million people.  The finale celebrations provide the climax to what has been one of the biggest partnership campaigns ever, with event organisers, local and national government, local communities, schools, churches and businesses engaging with the project across Scotland and the world.
A final evaluation of Homecoming Scotland 2009 is due in Spring 2010 and will report on the economic and international media impact the project has delivered.
Ends

For further information, please contact:

Leon Thompson, Corporate Affairs Manager
EventScotland Scotland
Telephone: 0131 472 2312
Mobile: 07778 163 085
Email: leon.thompson@eventscotland.org   

Alison Robb, Corporate Press Manager
VisitScotland
Telephone: 0131 472 2219
Mobile: 07770 728 367
Email: alison.robb@visitscotland.com


Notes to Editors

•    The Homecoming Scotland Finale Celebrations presented Scotland’s Biggest Ever St Andrew’s Do from 26th - 30th November 2009.  More than 40 events and opportunities to visit some of Scotland’s major attractions for free across Scotland, the full programme of activity is available at www.homecomingscotland2009.com/finale

•    St Andrew’s Day, 30 November, is Scotland’s national day.  It is a time for everyone at home and friends across the globe to celebrate Scotland and its people - our history and culture but also our diverse and vibrant contemporary society.  Full information on St Andrew’s Day, including its history, local and international events, Visit for Free visitor attractions across Scotland, and ideas for hosting your own event, can be found on www.scotland.org/standrewsday.

• The Homecoming Scotland Finale Celebrations herald the start of the winter festival season in Scotland, inviting visitors to extend their stay beyond the St Andrew’s weekend to sample the sights and sounds in a range of towns and cities.

• Homecoming Scotland 2009 is an inspirational programme of events running from Burns Night to St Andrew’s Day which motivates people with Scottish ancestry, as well as those who simply love Scotland, to “Come Home” in 2009.

• Homecoming Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government and is managed by EventScotland the national events agency in partnership with VisitScotland, the country’s national tourism agency.

• Homecoming is part financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund.