Celebrate St Andrew’s Day in Edinburgh

Minnie Stephenson flies the flag for St Andrew's Day in the Grassmarket. Picture: Jane Barlow
Minnie Stephenson flies the flag for St Andrew's Day in the Grassmarket. Picture: Jane Barlow
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CELEBRATIONS will break out across the city today as the country proudly paints itself blue and white.

Events are being held to mark St Andrew’s Day with plenty of free entertainment for all the family, including an eight-hour outdoor entertainment extravaganza in the Grassmarket.

“It’s the first time we have celebrated St Andrew’s Day in this way in Edinburgh and is a great start to the city’s Christmas and Hogmanay programme of events,” says Pete Irvine, managing director of Unique Events.

Scots singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean – best known for his epic anthem Caledonia – will lead the Grassmarket party, celebrating the nation’s ceilidh culture.

The free event, one of several major new additions to Edinburgh’s festive programme this year, is the centrepiece of St Andrew’s Day events being staged across the country.

The award-winning 
performer will be joined by Louis Abbott, frontman of Scottish indie favourites Admiral Fallow, who appeared at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations last year. Two of Scotland’s leading folk outfits – Blazin’ Fiddles and Braebach – will work with 
MacLean for a celebration concert devoted to songs by Robert Burns.

The £65,000 Grassmarket celebration is being jointly organised by Edinburgh firm Unique Events, which has produced the city’s Hogmanay celebrations for the last two decades, and Fringe promoters Underbelly.

It will also feature a kids ceilidh before it is the adults’ turn in the evening with an energetic knees-up to the music of the Cask Strength Ceilidh Band.

A quirky addition to the programme is a silent ceilidh in the Dome Tent, at the West End of the Grassmarket, where revellers can quietly dance from 6pm. Participants will wear headsets offering two channels: one to join in a well known ceilidh dance with assistance from a caller, while the second channel will play Scottish pop music for anyone wishing to create their own dance moves.

The day of free family fun – which has events running from 1.30pm to 10pm – will also feature traditional tales from Edinburgh’s Storytelling Centre for youngsters.

“This extraordinary celebration of Scottish ceilidh culture brings together some of our greatest traditional musicians to entertain the crowds on Scotland’s National Day,” adds Pete, who promises there will be something for everyone.

Away from the all the dancing in the Grassmarket, families can also visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where in honour of St Andrew, there will be free entry. Visitors will be able to discover 17th century Royal fashions, enjoy a whisky as they toast a haggis and watch former residents brought to life by local artist Chris Rutterford.

Elsewhere, popular attractions Our Dynamic Earth, The Scotch Whisky Experience, The Real Mary King’s Close, Camera Obscura, Bo’ness Motor Museum and the Scottish Seabird Centre, in North Berwick, will give children free entry when accompanied by a paying adult.

Two-for-one offers are available at a host of attractions ranging from Dance Base, in the Grassmarket, to the Glasshouses at the Royal Botanic Garden. The National Mining Museum, Newtongrange, and National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, are both ‘two-for-one’ and the Museum of Edinburgh, on the Royal Mile, has free entry too.

East Lothian, believed to be home of the Saltire, has four days of celebrations lined-up across its towns and villages. Among them, Donnie Munro – the former Runrig frontman – will perform an acoustic set at The Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, this evening.

“Scotland’s winter festivals bring people together to celebrate the very best of our culture, creativity and hospitality,” says Fiona Hyslop, Culture Secretary. “The packed programme of free events around St Andrew’s Day in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket is the perfect way for the city to kick off the celebrations.”

For full listings visit www.scotland.org/celebrate-