Page last updated at 13:35 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 14:35 UK

Gathering clans are coming home

Clan members
Clan members and chiefs from across the world gathered at the parliament

Final preparations are under way in Edinburgh for the world's largest clan gathering and Highland games.

The event will form the centrepiece of the Homecoming celebrations, to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of national bard, Robert Burns.

Organisers of the Gathering, on Saturday and Sunday, said demand for tickets had been "phenomenal", despite the event not selling out.

North America alone has a clan membership exceeding 100,000.

I am delighted to welcome home the many clans from across the globe to attend this special event in our year of Homecoming
Jim Mather
Minister for Tourism

The Gathering event, being staged mainly in Edinburgh's Holyrood Park, will culminate with a clan parade along the Royal Mile and a pageant on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are to hold a reception ahead of a Clan Convention which is taking place at the Scottish Parliament on Friday.

The convention will see 100 of Scotland's clan chiefs assembled together for the first time in recorded history.

They will debate the future of the clan system in the 21st century and the ongoing role of the clan chief.

It will be chaired by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Alex Fergusson MSP.

Prince Charles
Prince Charles was at a reception at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Lord Jamie Sempil, one of the organisers, told BBC Scotland the event - being attended by about 400 representatives from clan associations across the world - was the first major opportunity to discuss the role of clans in the 21st Century.

"The clan system varies quite dramatically across the world and the United States and Canada specifically have very strong clan associations and there's a lot to be learned from them," he said.

The Prince is patron of The Gathering 2009 which gets underway on Saturday with the Highland Games in Holyrood Park.

They will feature a heavy events championship, piping and dancing as well as showcasing the best of the nation's food, drink, crafts and textiles.

On Saturday evening there will be a clan parade along the Royal Mile from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to Edinburgh Castle Esplanade ahead of the world premier of Aisling's Children: Tales of the Homecoming which portrays the story of Scotland's history.

Minister for Tourism Jim Mather said: "I am delighted to welcome home the many clans from across the globe to attend this special event in our year of Homecoming.

"Clans around the world play a crucial role in connecting Scotland to the global community and this is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the wonderful history of Scottish Clans and look to the role of the Clan in the 21st Century."

The Gathering, set up in 2007, has been given funding from EventScotland, Edinburgh City Council and Scottish Enterprise.

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