THE Queen is addressing the Scottish Parliament today at a special ceremony, which also sees Ultravox frontman Midge Ure singing Burns’ song A Man’s a Man for A’ That.
The ceremony to mark the opening of the new session will be followed by a traditional Riding procession down the Royal Mile and an afternoon programme of activities in the parliament and its grounds.
Thousands of people are expected to join in the events.
The ceremony, which started at 11am, will also feature music inspired by the Holyrood building, a poem by Scots Makar Jackie Kay and a reading of the poem Open the Doors, written by the late Edwin Morgan.
The Riding, which follows at noon, will involve around 2500 people led by the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and followed by community groups.
These include Shetland Vikings, dancers, pipe and brass bands, choirs and a Chinese dragon.
It will set off from East Market Street, make its way down the Royal Mile and finish in Holyrood’s landscaped grounds.
Local Heroes, nominated by MSPs in recognition of their work to help others, will join the Riding as it approaches the parliament.
Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh and party leaders will take their places on the dais in front of the parliament to welcome the Riding.
The Big Day Out – which runs from 2pm-6pm and is expected to attract 5000 people – includes activities in eight different “zones” throughout the Holyrood campus.
A culture zone will offer taster sessions in music and dance from around the world, including street dance, Punjabi folk and African drumming.
The history zone will allow children to dress in period costumes to enjoy stories of Scotland’s past.
And there will be dancing as well as singing in The World zone, with performances including a traditional lion dance, a samba band, youth orchestra, steel orchestra and more.
A creativity zone will give children and families the chance to design and make their own keepsake of the day, including Scottish wildlife masks, pinwheels and dragonflies.
A beekeeper will talk about the parliament’s bees in the nature zone, which will also offer the opportunity to learn, meet and handle owls.
Experts from Heriot-Watt University will be on hand in the science and innovation area with some hands-on experiments.
These will cover 3D printing, virtual reality gaming, game technology in science, cyber security and super-resolution microscopy.
The democracy zone in the debating chamber includes a chance to sit in MSPs’ seats or try out the Presiding Officer’s dais.
And the tradition zone, in the landscaped garden, will have a mini-Highland Games, birds of prey, and the Wild about Scotland bus.
All events are free.