Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Sunday, 29 November 2009

Homecoming year reaches climax with host of events

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The series of Homecoming Scotland celebrations comes to an end

Scotland's Homecoming festival, marking 250 years since Robert Burns' birth, is coming to an end with some 40 events ahead of St Andrew's Day on Monday.

Among them, are a series of concerts celebrating Scottish pop, free family events and a sing-along of Auld Lang Syne in 100 different languages.

However, the earlier Clan Gathering in Edinburgh had to be bailed out by the city council after it lost money.

A finale concert at the SECC in Glasgow was said to have been scaled down.

The spectacular finale weekend, jam-packed with exciting events, will make this our biggest and best ever St Andrew's Day celebration
Michael Russell
Culture Minister

On Friday night, the SECC also saw the Tartan Clef awards, which were heralded as a successful tribute to Scotland's musical heritage, with Lloyd Cole & the Commotions reunited on stage exclusively for the show.

Other acts included The View and Mott the Hoople, and a series of awards presented under the Homecoming Scotland Tartan Clef banner saw King Creosote scoop singer/songwriter of the year and Capercaillie get the traditional music award.

Although the Homecoming Final Fling concert at the SECC on Saturday had been troubled by reports of low interest, organisers said it was a sell-out 6,000 capacity crowd, who were entertained by Scottish pop staples including Deacon Blue, Eddi Reader, Hue and Cry, Midge Ure and Idlewild.

Promoter Geoff Ellis said: "The buzz at this event, both backstage and amongst audiences, has been fantastic.

"We have seen a true celebration of some of the very best in Scottish music, and everyone has helped to create an evening that I think will go down in music history."

The weekend also saw First Minister Alex Salmond visiting the birthplace of Burns, as part of celebrations around the Homecoming finale and St Andrew's Day.

The Edinburgh Art Car Parade, photo courtesy of Chris Watt

He was reopening Burns' Cottage and opening a new Education Pavilion in Alloway on Sunday following a £1m renovation.

Mr Salmond was then travelling to Haddington in East Lothian, to attend The Saltire - a celebration of Scottish music and literature - where Dougie MacLean, Capercaillie's Karen Matheson, Fish and Phil Cunningham will perform at St Mary's Kirk.

Culture Minister Michael Russell also joined the celebrations.

He said: "St Andrew's Day is the perfect time to reflect on Scotland's contributions to the world - our culture, our heritage, our innovations and our people.

"The Year of Homecoming has been a true celebration, inspiring people at home and abroad to experience all that is great about Scotland.

"Early independent analysis indicates the project is well on track to beat its target of an extra £44m tourism revenue.

"The spectacular finale weekend, jam-packed with exciting events, will make this our biggest and best ever St Andrew's Day celebration."

Free attractions

As part of the St Andrew's Weekend, 47 Historic Scotland sites throughout the country, from Aberdour Castle in Fife to Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness, were free to the public.

Mr Russell said the challenge was how many things can you fit into two days.

"We know that people have seen it as a personal or family challenge in the past to see how many they can tick off."

Across the country, towns and cities were also marking the weekend.

Stirling celebrated the finale of Homecoming Scotland 2009 by hosting a range of events, while Dumfries held a Scottish Traditional Music Awards.

A "Celebration of Dance" was being held in Alloa, toasting Scotland's contemporary and traditional culture through Scottish Fusion Dance.

Homecoming aims

Organisers said the Homecoming Festival had boosted the economy by at least £19.4m and an early report said the celebrations were on track to beat the target of raising £44m.

The latest figures came in an early analysis of the programme, which looked at the revenue generated by 25 of the 112 events.

However, organisers admitted that visitor numbers from the US dropped 20% in the homecoming year, but said this was better than the rest of the UK.

One of Homecoming's main aims has been to engage with people living abroad who have Scottish links.



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SEE ALSO
Events galore for Homecoming end
23 Sep 09 |  Scotland
Homecoming opener boosted economy
06 Mar 09 |  South of Scotland
Burns events kick off Homecoming
24 Jan 09 |  Scotland

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