Homecoming 2014 visitor numbers praised

Hundreds of thousands of visitors have taken part in events being held across the country to mark Homecoming 2014.

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Fergus Ewing
Fergus Ewing

Scotland's national tourism agency VisitScotland revealed more than 894,311 people have attended funded events, including the Celtic Connections festival and Tartan Day celebrations, held between January and May.

Bosses said some of the celebrations enjoyed record-breaking attendances.

The Year of Homecoming 2014 is a 12-month programme of events running alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games.

It includes a re-enactment of the Battle of Bannockburn, a Big Burns Supper and an array of food and drink events and festivals across Scotland.

Celtic Connections, Glasgow Film Festival and Electric Glen have already been held, welcoming their biggest crowds to date - with 110,176, 41,806 and 27,008 visitors respectively.

New events included the launch of the Kelpies - the 300-tonne, 98ft horse head sculptures created by artist Andy Scott at Helix Park in Falkirk - which more than 9,000 people attended.

Homecoming's special Whisky Month in May saw more than 78,439 people from more than 31 different countries at events such as Spirit of Speyside, Whisky Stramash, Glasgow Whisky Festival, World Whisky Day and Spirit of Stirling.

Bannockburn Live also proved a sell-out success in June, with a 20,000 capacity crowd attending the large scale festival over two days.

Key events still to come include the Ryder Cup Gala Concert next month and the MTV Europe Music Awards in November.

Tourism minister Fergus Ewing said: "Scotland is welcoming the world in 2014 and it is fantastic that both the people of Scotland and our visitors are embracing many of the events being supported as part of the Homecoming 2014 celebrations.

"All events are designed to celebrate the very best of Scotland's food and drink, our assets as a country of natural beauty as well as our rich creativity and cultural and ancestral heritage.

"The programme really has something for everyone, in every corner of the country, in every month of the year."

VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said: "We're only just over halfway through our second Homecoming Year and the engagement from locals, visitors and businesses has been astonishing, exceeding all our expectations.

"Record high attendances at events and a real passion and enthusiasm for celebrating Scottish culture, history, music, nature and ancestry has shone through, and we are confident the second half of the year will be just as breathtaking as the first."

It is the second time a Year of Homecoming has been held, with the first taking place in 2009.

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