Chinese dragons, Bollywood dancers to mark Holyrood’s 5th session

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh leave the Palace of Holyroodhouse for the first opening of the parliament in 1999. Picture: Bill Henry

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh leave the Palace of Holyroodhouse for the first opening of the parliament in 1999. Picture: Bill Henry

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CHINESE dragons and Bollywood-style dancers will join a 2000-strong “Riding” procession to mark the opening of the Scottish Parliament’s fifth session.

The Queen will address MSPs in the parliament chamber shortly before the procession makes its way down the Royal Mile on Saturday, July 2.

And later there will be a mini-Highland Games, as well as music, dance and activities for children as part of Holyrood’s “Big Day Out”.

The Riding is based on the traditional parade which marked the opening of each meeting of the Scottish Parliament up to the Treaty of Union in 1707.

Community groups, “Local Heroes” nominated by each of Scotland’s 129 MSPs, musicians and entertainers will take part in the colourful procession.

The Riding, which will start in East Market Street, will be themed on Edwin Morgan’s poem Open the Doors, which was commissioned for the opening of the Holyrood building in 2004. Those taking part in the procession will carry banners featuring lines and phrases from the poem.

The day will start with the Crown of Scotland travelling down the Royal Mile from the Castle to the parliament.

As well as the Queen‘s address, the ceremony in the chamber will include short speeches by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh.

Organisers also promise music, poetry and “an element of theatre” as part of the proceedings, with details to be revealed nearer the time.

The Queen will meet some of the Local Heroes afterwards.

The Big Day Out – billed as a fun-packed afternoon for all the family – will see the gardens and doors of the parliament open to all to explore. Participants will also enjoy a busy programme of events from 2-6pm. Around 5000 people are expected to attend.

It will include the mini-Highland games, taster sessions for African drumming and Punjabi folk dancing, and the chance for children – and parents – to dress up in historical costumes. There will be performances by community choirs and a samba band, as well as street dancing, arts and crafts for children and an invitation to go into the chamber and sit in MSPs’ seats.

The presiding officer said: “Some people might see the Scottish Parliament as boring or stuffy – it’s neither – and The Big Day Out is a great chance for people to come to Holyrood and experience parliament for themselves.

“The Riding will be as far from the parliament’s ‘grey suit’ image as you can get, with Chinese dragons, Bollywood-style dancers, banners, music and some truly amazing people who have gone ‘above and beyond’ to make a positive difference in Scotland.

“We’re inviting everyone to defy the changeable Scottish weather, put on their party clothes, and help make this opening of the Scottish Parliament an occasion everyone will remember for years to come.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com