Page last updated at 00:22 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

Funding for Homecoming Highland

Cross of St Andrew
The festival will celebrate all things Scottish

The Scottish Government is making 60,000 available to boost a key event in next year's Highland Year of Homecoming tourism initiative.

The conference, featuring speakers from around the world, will be part of the wider Homecoming Scotland 2009 project.

The 10-month festival of all things Scottish coincides with the 250th anniversary of poet Robert Burns.

Fiona Hampton, of Highland Homecoming, said the conference speakers would be of a high calibre.

Whisky month

It is hoped Homecoming will attract thousands of expats from across the world when it launches next year.

Nationally, the festival kicks off on Burns Night, on 25 January, and will run until St Andrew's Day on 30 November.

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 events will be a show at the Clyde Auditorium to celebrate the songs of Burns and a whole whisky month in May, with distillers across the country opening up their doors.

The biggest clan gathering in 200 years will also be staged in Edinburgh in July, and a flotilla of boats will travel the length of the Caledonian Canal, from Fort William to Inverness.

The Edinburgh International Science Festival will be showcasing the contributions made to innovation by Scots, and an exhibition of contemporary art inspired by Burns will be hosted at Glasgow's Mitchell Library.

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