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Last Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007, 22:03 GMT
Scotland celebrates saint's day
pipers in Edinburgh
George Watson's College Pipe Band in front of Edinburgh Castle
A wide range of events have taken place across Scotland and beyond to celebrate St Andrew's Day.

The attractions included a display of the traditional Scottish dance Strip the Willow.

Several announcements also took place, including a 750,000 investment in two historic buildings by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Hundreds of people have taken the day off as a national holiday for the first time.

As part of the day's celebrations, more than 60 of Scotland's top visitor attractions were opened for free.

Castles, museums, gardens and abbeys across Scotland from Orkney to Jedburgh took part.

The initiative was designed to encourage Scots and visitors to celebrate the country's heritage and culture on Scotland's national day.

Scotland is open to one and all to join the celebrations of St Andrew's Day
Linda Fabiani
Culture Minister

During a speech in Glasgow on Friday, First Minister Alex Salmond called for St Andrew's Day to be celebrated as openly in Scotland as it was by Scots overseas.

He added: "In doing so, we celebrate the values which define modern Scotland - the values of humanity, compassion, enterprise, ambition and a determined internationalism."

The Strip the Willow dance took place in Inverness, while in Brussels the famous sculpture of the Mannekin Pis has been wearing a tartan tammy - just for the day.

Edinburgh hosted two live music events as part of this year's celebrations.

Statue
St Andrew's Day was also marked at a famous landmark in Brussels

The Scottish Pavilion, which is undercover, in West Princes Street Gardens was the venue for Jig in the Gardens, a huge ceilidh with live Scottish-flavoured music which included a guest appearance by Sandi Thom.

The Chiller Tent, in front of the Ross Band stand, was host to Groove in the Gardens, an evening filled with bands and DJs.

Meanwhile, a free ceilidh was held in Glasgow's George Square as part of the city's Winterfest.

Lord Provost Bob Winter said: "Glasgow has shown the way in celebrating our national day."

Burns night

Culture Minister Linda Fabiani encouraged people to take part in the celebrations across Scotland.

She said: "St Andrew's Day is a celebration of Scotland both here at home and all around the world.

"This year we are rejoicing in our National Day and the start of the Winter Festival that will run on through Hogmanay to Burns Night.

schoolchildren
School children celebrated the day in Inverness

"Scotland is open to one and all to join the celebrations of St Andrew's Day and experience the cultural festivities we're known for all around the world."

However, the Liberal Democrats criticised the Scottish Government for failing to deliver a full public holiday to mark St Andrew's Day.

Culture spokesman Iain Smith said: "The SNP promised to mark St Andrew's Day with a national holiday. Instead we have a half day annual leave for civil servants to take, but only if they want to.

"Liberal Democrats supported making St Andrew's Day a full public holiday and we are disappointed that the Scottish Government has, once again, failed to deliver."

Last year MSPs agreed to make 30 November a voluntary public holiday.

SEE ALSO
Winter festival plans made public
02 Nov 07 |  Scotland
Row over SNP 'propaganda packs'
30 Oct 07 |  Scotland
MSPs approve St Andrew's day bill
29 Nov 06 |  Scotland
First minister backs holiday call
11 Sep 06 |  Scotland
Holyrood rejects national holiday
06 Oct 05 |  Scotland
MSPs consider St Andrew holiday
07 Sep 05 |  Scotland

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