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All aboard for 2020


Today (13 November) saw Cabinet Secretary, Fiona Hyslop mark ‘50 days to go’ and unveil 30 further events set to make a huge splash in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.From canal carnivals to coastal inspired opera and art, seaweed festivals and science events to thrill-seeking endurance activities and coastal rowing voyages, Scotland’s forthcoming celebratory Themed Year will shine a spotlight on a wide-ranging and far-reaching programme of events and festivals throughout 2020.

Setting sail across Spring 2020 (March - May) events supported through the Round 2 Year of Coasts and Waters event fund include:  StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival which will present an extended programme showcasing poets whose work explores and celebrates bodies of water from Scotland’s coastlines to the Arctic; theBritish and Scottish National Surfing Champs in Thurso; Signal at Dusk - a captivating coastal opera and installation presented by Glasgow based internationally-renowned Cryptic; Canal Festival Time Machine will bring to life the tales of the Forth & Clyde Canal through art, music, and performance from the Kelpies to the Falkirk Wheel; Sea Tamagotchi, part of the year-long programme for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture is a linguistic art project that will seek out and celebrate endangered maritime words and place names in coastal regions, with a focus on the Western Isles; and Water for Life – an extensive series of events and exhibitions as part of Edinburgh Science Festival.

Splashing into the summer months (June – August): Marine Fest will celebrate The Scottish Seabird Centre’s 20th anniversary with a range of activity including rock pooling, guided walks and interactive science shows; The Scottish Fisheries Museum and Anstruther Harbour Festival will team up for the museum’s 50th Anniversary to bring Fèis Chala 

An t-sruthair -

The Glasgow Canal Festival will introduce a Canal Carnival Flotilla, a parade of boats adorned with large-scale carnivalesque artworks that will celebrate the diversity of Glasgow’s multicultural communities and the beauty of the Forth and Clyde Canal; Shetland Boat Week 2020 will be bigger and better than ever with a variety of land-based activities, the best of local seafood and lots of opportunities to get on the water.  Steòrnabhagh air a’ Chuan (Stornoway on the Ocean) will celebrate the opening of Stornoway’s new marina with sailing events, workshops, races, ceilidhs offering a vibrant Hebridean cultural experience.

A bank of events celebrating Scotland’s great rivers will also be on offer across the summer including: Your Tay, Your Adventure which will have an action-packed programme of events with lots of opportunities to get on the water, culminating in the return of the Scottish Canoe Association’s mass paddlesport event Tay Descent.  Dumbarton 2020 River Town will see an exciting new festival of music and arts honouring how water shaped the historic town, from distilling to shipbuilding.  Inspired by the White Cart river and its role powering Paisley’s historic thread mills, Colours of the Cart, as part of Sma’Shot Day will feature outdoor spectacle and visual installation with dance, circus, music, sound and breath-taking aerial performances all taking place against the backdrop of the majestic Hamills waterfall and iconic Anchor Mill.  

Autumn (Sep onwards) is set to be awash with new experiences: Taste of Orkney Festivalwhich is set to offer a packed menu of Orkney food and drink experiences and activities, on and off the water; Autumn of Endurance on Loch Ken will have a series of endurance events for every level including wild swimming, dragon boat racing, kayaking, and triathlon; Isle Martin Seaweed Festival will give visitors the chance to experience a range of art installations, music, creative workshops and spoken word inspired by the rich diversity of seaweed; the Northern Lights Festival will feature a large-scale outdoor light and arts festival celebrating Wick Harbour and the Caithness coastline; and Findhorn Bay Festival will have an exciting new Source to Seaprogramme of activities placing a spotlight on the culture, heritage and natural landscape of Moray’s shimmering rivers and award-winning coastline.

Urquhart Castle will become a treasure chest of Scottish arts and culture as the stories of the sea and lochs come to life with Aiseag (translated as ferry) from Historic Environment Scotland.  Through craft, art, music, animation, film and lighting, the programme of innovative and immersive events will take you on a voyage of discovery to explore Gaelic culture, heritage and traditions.

There is also a number of events and projects that will flow across several months of the celebratory year taking in multiple locations across the country.  A new feat of mechanical mastery from Edinburgh’s Vision Mechanics will see STORM - a ten-metre-tall puppet walk on land to share maritime stories of the sea. She will make her debut as part of Celtic Connections in January as well as appearing at a range of events and communities throughout the year.  Also debuting at Celtic Connections and touring until November will be Launch! On the Sea with Scotland’s Lifeboats, presented by Screen Argyll and A Kind of Seeing. This immersive live film performance takes inspiration from RNLI archives and explores our deep coastal connections. 

 Doon the Watter

 Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said:

“We have an exciting year ahead celebrating Scotland’s wonderfully diverse coasts, canals, rivers and lochs. The Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 Events Programme is full of tours and exhibitions, great events, cultural performances, community activities and festivals, supported by over £770,000 of Scottish Government funding. These events will be taking place in locations from Shetland, Dumfries and Galloway, Western Isles to Fife and in the heartlands of our great cities.“We are also working across the Scottish Government to deliver several Programme for Government commitments during the Year of Coasts and Waters, including funding Lossiemouth’s East Beach Footbridge, providing £1,000,000 for the repair of The Waverley Paddle Steamer, contributing an additional £400,000 this year for North Ayrshire’s Coig project, launching the new Islands Passport in 2020 and positioning Scotland as a premier destination for adventure activities globally.  “Scotland’s Themed Years have been running since 2009 and we know they are a proven mechanism for us all to work together to create opportunities to diversify our tourism offer whilst promoting Scotland as a great place to visit for people from around the world. “Over 60% of the events announced today include an ‘on the water’ activity element. Whether it’s a canal boat holiday, a week sailing round the Western Isles, an afternoon kayaking or walking by our rivers, lochs or on the beaches, I would encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Scotland’s beautiful Coasts and Waters.”

 Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“The incredible events receiving funding for the Year of Coasts and Waters are leading examples of how Scotland will shine in 2020. These celebrations will help to showcase the year and country across the globe.“We are inviting the world to dive into the amazing experiences our coasts and waters provide. From water inspired myths and legends, historic harbours, rich rivers, captivating canals and sweeping coastlines to the very best in seafood, whisky, wildlife and wellness.  “Scotland’s enviable reputation for unspoiled beaches, vibrant natural and cultural heritage and thrill-seeking adventure activities will be celebrated through a packed year-long programme of events and activities.”

 The range of events announced today joins six events announced in April 2019 supported through the Year of Coasts and Waters Round 1 programme. These include Clydebuilt Festival, The Fife Regatta, RSPB Scotland’s DolphinFest, Scotland’s Boat Show - River of Light, Ferry Tales by the National Theatre of Scotland and Edinburgh International Film Festival’sFilm Fest on the Forth’.

 In addition to the supported events announced today, a number of partner events are also on board with the year including Celtic Connections which will present ‘Coastal Connections’ – a spectacular one-off festival within a festival celebrating the rich heritage and diverse culture of the coasts and waters of Scotland; Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art in partnership with Glasgow Sculpture Studios will have a major new commission by Glasgow-based artist Alberta Whittle, alongside a programme of related activities on and around the canal; and The Royal National Mòd will celebrate with three exciting events including a Coastal Ceilidh Trail,  Gaelic Walking Tours of Inverness and ‘A coastal journey’ showcasing myths, legends, music and songs with three new specially commissioned pieces of music. 

Many more partner events celebrating the theme will be joining the programme over the forthcoming months. 

Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 will begin on 1 January 2020 and run until 31 December 2020.  For more information Join the conversation #YCW2020

Click here to get a taster for Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 (video 1.52 Mins).


Supported YCW2020 Event quotes: Colours of the CartRenfrewshire Council’s head of marketing, communication and events, Louisa Mahon, said:“Sma’ Shot Day is always one of the highlights of the annual events calendar and this year sees an exciting development as we put the White Cart River, which runs through the heart of the town, at the centre of the celebrations.“The event will highlight the river’s pivotal role in powering Paisley’s iconic thread mills, which in turn helped put Scotland at the centre of the international textiles manufacturing industry.”

 Isle Martin Seaweed Festival 

Lesley Strachan, Isle Martin Trust said 


Ruairidh Graham, Gaelic Language & Policy Officer at Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said: ”We are looking forward to welcoming visitors with an exciting programme of music, dance, lighting and digital projection, taking them on a creative journey through the rich heritage of northern Scotland’s coasts and waterways.” Notes to Editors
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All aboard for 2020

Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 creates a wave of excitement with further celebratory events revealed

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