Page last updated at 16:41 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

2009 Homecoming events unveiled

The Homecoming event will celebrate Scottish culture

The full programme of events to mark Scotland's 2009 Homecoming festival have been unveiled.

A new 48-page guide details more than 300 events which will take place across Scotland between January and November next year.

Homecoming Scotland is being held to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth.

The festival will run from 25 January until St Andrews Day on 30 November 2009.

The programme of events has been organised around five main themes - Robert Burns, whisky, golf, great Scottish minds and innovations and Scotland's culture and heritage.

Among the new events announced is "Iconic Burns" - an outdoor spectacular in Alloway which will take place as part of the Opening Celebrations.

A major international motorsport event, The Intercontinental Rally Challenge, is also set to take place in Perth and Kinross and Stirling in November.

Scotland's Year of Homecoming is about reuniting Scots and friends of Scotland
Alex Salmond
First Minister
In Inveraray, to mark Whisky Month in May, the two-day Spirit of the West whisky festival is planned.

Events already announced include a show at the Clyde Auditorium to celebrate the songs of Burns and the biggest clan gathering for 200 years in Edinburgh in July.

First Minister Alex Salmond, who attended the launch of the new programme at the Scottish Parliament along with other political leaders, said: "Scotland's Year of Homecoming is about reuniting Scots and friends of Scotland with the aspects of commonality that bind them together, allowing them to share the pleasure and pride of our culture and heritage.

"That's why it is so fitting that party leaders, from across the political spectrum, have united to launch the updated programme of celebrations."

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said the idea to hold such a festival had begun with former Labour leader Jack McConnell.

He said: "I am delighted to see how the list of events has grown and communities all over Scotland will be able to participate and welcome people from all parts of the globe to share in the celebration."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott said the planned events would be a "great opportunity" to showcase Scotland to the rest of the world.

He added: "2009 needs to be a great year-round event across Scotland, from Shetland to Stranraer, Aboyne and Oban."

Scottish Conservatives leader Annabel Goldie, who was also present at the launch, added: "Our welcome will be warm; our country will be the backdrop; our people its ambassadors; our history compelling; our future exciting; I look forward to the Homecoming with relish."

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