All aboard for Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020


Yesterday 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; the British 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 – a spectacular summer sea-side festival; the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival’s Portsoy Ahoy! will offer an expanded programme with an added focus on our marine environment; The Skye Festival returns with an exciting programme highlighting the distinctiveness of Scotland’s coasts and waters while raising awareness of the need to protect them for future generations; brand new family festival Making Waves in North Ayrshire celebrates the rich traditions of Scotland’s seaside entertainment with a contemporary edge; in South Ayrshire the National Trust for Scotland’s Culzean by the Sea will offer an engaging Sea Creature Trail allowing visitors to explore Culzean’s beautiful beaches, ponds and woodlands.

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 Festival which 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 Sea programme 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.

Doon the Watter, from Street Level Photoworks will present a year-long photography trail connecting communities on the west coast and the Highlands and Islands; Travelling Gallery’s Coasts and Waters Tour will showcase new work and fresh perspectives at waterside locations across Scotland; Rowaround Scotland will see at least 1000 coastal rowers travel 1000 miles between Scottish Coastal Rowing Association clubs in a multi-staged voyage.

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.

“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.

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).