THEY are events steeped in history that uphold traditions dating back centuries and combine the unforgettable spectacle of horses and their riders with local celebrations and pageantry.
And now, VisitScotland is encouraging visitors to travel to the Scottish Borders by train this summer to experience the region’s unique Common Ridings and festivals in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaelogy, and provide a boost to the local visitor economy.
The opening of the Borders Railway in September 2015 means that the traditional Borders Common Ridings and festivals are now more accessible than ever before. As part of the Borders Railway Blueprint partnership, the national tourism organisation seeks to maximize benefits from the new Borders Railway.
The events, which take place in 11 of the region’s towns, kick off this Friday 9 June with Hawick Common Riding, the oldest of the Common Riding celebrations, dating from 1514.
They continue for Selkirk Common Riding on Friday 16 June when the solemn casting of the colours ceremony follows the Riding of the Marches, which commemorate the times when their forbearers patrolled the boundaries of their settlements on horseback.
Throughout the summer weeks, each Borders town then takes its turn to celebrate its remarkable history and unique identity with hundreds of horses and their riders gathering to follow the chosen principal in:
- West Linton Whipman Play, 2-10 June.
- Peebles Beltane Festival, 18-24 June.
- Melrose Festival Week 18-14 June with the rideout on Monday 19 June.
- Galashiels Braw Lads Gathering from 23 June with the Braw Lads Day on Saturday 1 July.
- Jedburgh Callants Festival from 24 June with the Common Riding on Friday 7 July.
- Duns Summer Festival 2-8 July.
- Kelso Civic Week 16-22 July with the Yetholm Ride on 22 July.
- Lauder Common Week from 30 July with the Common Riding on Saturday 5 August.
- Coldstream Civic Week 6-12 August.
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: “The Common Ridings are one of the oldest equestrian festivals in the world and a wonderful spectacle to witness. They take place against the backdrop of the dramatic landscape of the Scottish Borders, when the sheer guts and determination of the people comes to the fore in a perfect example of ScotSprit.
“The re-establishment of the railway line from Edinburgh through Midlothian to the Scottish Borders has had a massive impact on the local economy. The Common Ridings and festivals can attract more than 110,000 visitors* and provide a boost to the local visitor economy.
“This year in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, we will celebrate both Scotland’s tangible and intangible heritage – everything from our buildings and archaeological sites to our diverse stories, traditions and culture. Scotland’s history and culture are among the top reasons for visiting Scotland and we hope to encourage visitors to make the journey on the Borders Railway to soak up the atmosphere at these unique events.”
Kate Pearson, Economic Development Officer for Tourism at Scottish Borders Council said: “Borderers are immensely proud of their town’s Common Ridings and festivals, which are full of colour, noise and passion.
“Visitors are made to feel welcome at each, with many Common Ridings and festivals running exile nights to help tourists feel part of the community.
“The Borders Railway has already helped to boost tourist numbers to the area, and I am sure many will use the service to visit Common Ridings and festivals throughout the summer.”
Alasdair Smart, ScotRail Alliance Tourism Manager, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Common Ridings and look forward to helping visitors from across the country and beyond experience the beauty and rich natural heritage of the Borders.
“Tourism in Scotland is a key economic sector and we recognise the critical role that we play in supporting the national agenda, tourism businesses and local communities.”
VisitScotland’s global ScotSpirit campaign is built on extensive research which shows that people think Scotland has unique spirit – whether it’s the magic of the landscapes or the warmth of the people. Everyone who has shared their #ScotSpirit will become part of a special social movement. To find out more, visit: www.visitscotland.com/scotspirit
For more information on the Common Ridings and festivals, including travel information, visit: http://returntotheridings.co.uk/
For more information on the Common Ridings, visit: https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/events/common-ridings/
*In the Year of Homecoming 2014, there were 111,830 visitors to the Border Common Riding festivals.
Notes to Editors
- Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
- VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
- The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
- This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
- Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
- Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
- Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
- Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
- Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
- Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
- Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
- To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
- VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
- The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
- Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
- The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit www.gov.scot or follow @scotgovESIF
- For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
- Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh) 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
- 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