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Homecoming Scotland 2014

This year is turning out to be one of the biggest years in Scottish history and no we are not just talking about a certain referendum. Politics aside, Homecoming Scotland 2014 is bringing a year-long, breathtaking smorgasbord of events and festivities that aim to attract visitors to these shores from all over the world and to give everyone who lives in Scotland the party of their lives too. The idea behind Homecoming is brilliantly simple. Like the first Homecoming in 2009, this extravaganza aims to draw on and inspire the massive Scottish Diaspora who are dotted all around the world – thought to number up to 50 million people – as well as anyone just interested in Scotland and all things Scottish. The main organisers – Visit Scotland and the Scottish Government – want to motivate people to visit Scotland during this special year.

Homecoming 2014 kicked off at The Bells on Hogmanay on January 1. It burst into life with fireworks and is now continuing on through hundreds of events before it finishes with another volley of festive fireworks. There are five central pillars of Homecoming 2014. ‘Active’ draws on the myriad adventure activities in Scotland, ‘Food and Drink’ on the country’s world-class natural larder and ‘Creative’ conjures up the nation’s colourful culture. The fourth pillar is ‘Natural’, looking at Scotland’s landscapes, flora and fauna and, finally, there is ‘Ancestry’, which encourages people to think about and explore their Scottish ancestry.
&copy Copyright Robin McKelvie

The beauty of Homecoming 2014 is that it is all things to all people. So pre-existing events such as the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games are coming under the Homecoming banner, but there are also a swathe of new events you can check out around the country, some for a fee but many others totally free.

One of the highlights is Whisky Month, in May. It starts with drams ahoy for the Spirit of Speyside Festival in Scotland’s whisky heartland with open days at distilleries, special tastings and wild ceilidhs. This dram-drenched month concludes with the Islay Festival of Music and Malt, which involves all of the island’s eight distilleries.
Islay Distillery &copy Copyright Robin McKelvie
The historical highlight of Homecoming 2014 has to be Bannockburn Live from June 28-30. This year marks 700 years since that fateful confrontation and the National Trust for Scotland will be staging the largest ever re-enactment of the battle. The three-day festival will also bring villages alive with Scottish food and drink, as well as sports, crafts and literature and family fun. Armed Forces Day and Pipefest will also be celebrated in Stirling over this very special weekend.

Homecoming is even making it out to the remote Outer Hebrides. Late summer brings the Harris Tweed Hebrides Tattoo in Stornoway on August 8 and 9. The Tattoo at Lews Castle will host nine pipe bands from Canada, Scotland and beyond. Friday has dancers from all over the Hebrides, with a Samba Band on hand too to really spice things up. The climax features Gaelic choirs, massed pipe bands and a spectacular fireworks display. Saturday will be a carnival day with floats parading through Stornoway and an evening concert in the Lochside Arena.

Ben Cruachan &copy Copyright Robin McKelvie

Even a concept as traditional as the Highland Games is getting in on the Homecoming 2014 act. The Cowal Gathering in Dunoon in August is the world’s largest Highland Games and this year it will be taking on a Homecoming hue, as will the Braemar Gathering in Deeside in September. Then there is the Inverness Highland Meeting from September 12-14. Here by the banks of the River Ness the Masters World Championships sees over one hundred heavyweights from around the world compete in traditional Highland sports, such as tossing the caber and the hammer.


New events are constantly being added to the Homecoming 2014 programme, which is set to expand as the year goes on and people engage more and more with it. Rest assured that we will be keeping you up to speed with the Year of Homecoming on our main site, our blogs, our App, on our Facebook page and on Twitter too, so strap in for the ride of your life as we all enjoy Homecoming Scotland 2014!

Links
Welcome to Scotland page on Commonwealth Games
Welcome to Scotland page on the Ryder Cup
Welcome to Scotland page on the Forth Bridges Festival
Welcome to Scotland blog on Commonwealth Games
Welcome to Scotland blog on climbing the Forth Road Bridge
Visit Scotland page on Homecoming Scotland 2014
 

Eilean Donan Castle © Copyright Robin McKelvie