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2017: A year to celebrate Scotland's history, heritage and archaeology

Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology

The 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a celebration of Scotland’s people, traditions, distinct culture, landscapes, attractions and icons, as well as its hidden gems.

Throughout the year there will be a wealth of opportunities to explore Scotland’s past through a range of cultural and creative events and activities.

The official Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology signature programme presents nine diverse events taking place across Scotland;

  • Edinburgh's Georgian Shadows (23 February – 26 March): The story of Edinburgh's New Town will be revealed using inventive lighting.
  • Scotland in Six (18 April): Scotland's six world heritage sites will be celebrated with dawn-to-dusk events to mark World Heritage Day.
  • TradFest (26 April – 7 May): This festival of folk arts will kick-start the summer season at venues across Edinburgh.
  • Paisley's International Festival of Weaving (1-2 July): Cultural activities and performances will celebrate Paisley's roots.
  • Purvai (August): A festival marking Scotland's historical links with south-east Asia at An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway.
  • Follow the Vikings roadshow and festival (2-3 and 8-9 September): Shetland will host two weekends of Viking performances and re-enactments.
  • HorsePower (9 September): A celebration of Scotland's equine heritage at Falkirk's Helix Park - home of the Kelpies.
  • The Mary Queen of Scots Festival (September): The Kinross area will be home to a festival involving living history encampments, music, food and drink.
  • Shining Lives (Autumn): A sound and light projection event in New Lanark world heritage site.

As well as the signature events, there are many other opportunities to connect to Scotland’s history, heritage and archaeology in 2017.

Duo Jenn Butterworth (guitar) and Laura-Beth Salter (mandolin), Laura Wilkie (fiddle) who will be performing with exciting multi genre Scottish collective Fat Suit, Jeana Leslie (fiddle) who will be performing with emerging Scottish folk band Fara. Photo: SNS Group

The upcoming Celtic Connections (19 January - 5 February), the UK’s largest celebration of Celtic music, presents an eclectic line-up of more than 2,000 artists in a programme where Scottish musical heritage meets myriad other influences and cultures.

At the end of January, Burns Night events to celebrate the life and work of Scotland’s National Bard take place across Scotland including Burns an’ a that Festival in Alloway.

Led by Edinburgh City of Literature, Canongate Stars and Stories is an illuminated walking-trail shedding light on Edinburgh’s outstanding print and publishing heritage on the Royal Mile. Featuring 20 light boxes of quotes and phrases drawn from famous books and publishing figures from across the ages, the trail is open until 25 March.

Canongate Stars and Stories

In February LGBT History Month takes place, celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer lives and culture and recognising the significant contribution LGBTIQ people have made to society, both here in Scotland and in the world at large. This year to mark the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology LGBT History Month Scotland will be putting the spotlight on heritage in a programme that includes two exciting new Cultural Commissions from filmmaker Helen Wright and poet Rachel Plummer.

In May there will be plenty of opportunities to soak up Scottish historical culture as the Festival of Museums takes place, with various events across the country.

In the summer, the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh International Film Festival will all celebrate their 70th anniversary, marking a historic landmark for Edinburgh as a world-leading festival city. The significant anniversary is sure to play a central role in the always eagerly anticipated Festival programmes.

Wait Weep and Be Worthy at Glasgow Women's Library

Throughout the year Glasgow Women’s Library will present opportunities to explore women’s lives, histories and achievements, whether through their extensive lending library and archives, or at one of their frequent public events.

As part of the themed year, Historic Environment Scotland are asking 'What’s Your Heritage?’ and asking for responses to their survey to help provide insight into how the people of Scotland see their heritage.

There will be many other events and activities during 2017 delving into Scotland’s past with a growing list available on VisitScotland’s dedicated Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology webpages, and you can get involved on social media with the hashtag #HHA2017.

There are still lots of opportunities for organisations to take part of the themed year with a range of advice and marketing support available in VisitScotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology toolkit.  

More information

  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017.  It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit visitscotland.com/HHA2017 or join the conversation at #HHA2017
This article was published on 19 Jan 2017