Scottish Government: "We're inviting anyone with either an ancestral or an affinity link to Scotland to come this year"
Homecoming Scotland 2009 is a year long celebration promoted by the Scottish Government to celebrate Scotland's national heritage and the country's contributions to the world.
The Scottish government settled on 2009 as the year to stage the even as it marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet.
Homecoming Scotland celebrations will commence on the anniversary of Burns' birth, 25 January, and will run until St Andrew's Day on 30 November 2009.
Hundreds of events are scheduled nation-wide and will focus heavily on world-famous Scottish icons such as Golf, Whisky, Robert Burns, and the great Scottish innovations.
The initiative has been devised to attract anyone with links to Scotland, particularly families who have emigrated in centuries past, as well as those who have visited the country in recent years.
"The biggest family reunion ever staged in the world"
The Scottish Government has issued an open invitation to anyone with either family links or an affinity with Scotland to visit the country this year.
Scottish enterprise minister Jim Mather said Homecoming Scotland celebrations would be one of the biggest family reunions ever staged in the world.
"We're inviting the diaspora and affinity Scots throughout the world to celebrate our shared heritage by joining us this year for one of the biggest family reunions the world has ever seen", said Mr Mather.
For a relatively small country, Scotland has made some important contributions to the world. It is believed that there are over 25 million people of Scottish descent around the world. The largest Scottish diaspora communities are found in Canada and the USA, where about 4 and 5 million people respectively claim to have Scottish ancestry.
By organising Homecoming Scotland's year-long celebrations, the Scottish Government aims to encourage people of Scottish roots to come to the home of their ancestors.
A year packed with events
Burns celebrations will be the main theme of Homecoming Scotland during winter 2009, with the programme officially kicking off on the weekend of Robert Burns' 250th anniversary on 25 January.
Spring will see the focus shift to whisky. Scotland is home to some of the finest whisky in the world. The industry employs thousands of people and is a vitally important part of the Scottish economy. The events for this phase will take place mainly in the Highlands and Islands.
Summer will be packed with some of the best international events, such as the world renowned Edinburgh International Festival
Golf is another world-famous Scottish export. As the home of Golf, Scotland has over 550 courses across the country, some of which will host special events through the year. The culmination of the events will be The Open Golf Championship in Turnberry, Ayrshire.
Celtic and Clan culture is an essential part of Scotland's national heritage. The world's biggest Clan Gathering will be held in Edinburgh to celebrate the contribution that Scottish clans have made to the history and culture of the world.
Scotland is also a nation of inventors, philosophers and great scientists which have always been at the forefront of innovation and discovery. One on the themes running for the duration of the Homecoming Scotland celebrations will be the Great Scottish Minds and Innovations.
Homecoming Scotland 2009 will come to an end on St Andrew's Day with a major celebration of Scottish heritage. The closing event to the year-long festival will take place in Glasgow with 'Homecoming Live', a concert featuring Scotland's top musicians.
250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns
“Rabbie Burns”, as he is known in Scotland, is honoured every 25 January by millions of Scots at home and abroad. In Scotland, Burns’ birthday is regarded as the country's second national day.
Homecoming Scotland will celebrate the life and works of the national Bard with a series of Burns events mainly held in the south-west of the country, where the Ploughman Poet used to live.
The city of Glasgow will also hold important Burns events such as Burns-themed concerts at the Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival, as well as the major exhibition 'The Paths of Robert Burns' which will feature about 36,000 artifacts associated with the national Bard.
Boost to economy and Scotland's international presence
By organising Homecoming Scotland's year long celebrations, the Scottish Government aims to tap into the diaspora market and forge stronger links with the 25 million people across the world who have a connection with the nation.
The initiative has been welcomed by all political groups, who have unanimously highlighted that in the present economic crisis the action presents a massive opportunity for Scotland.
The Scottish Government has estimated that Homecoming will bring an additional boost to the Scottish economy worth some €45 million and more than 100,000 extra visitors.
218,000 people in Scotland rely upon tourism for their income and livelihood.
Scottish enterprise minister Jim Mather said "The issue for debate today is not whether Homecoming is a good idea for 2009, but whether it is being promoted effectively, how significant a role it can play in sustaining the Scottish economy, and what more can be done to secure the best possible outcomes in 2009 and to ensure a significant legacy for the future."
Do you want to know more?
Visit Homecoming Scotland 2009 official website:
Help Scotland spread the word and join the Celebrations!
Please help Scotland spread the word to make 2009 a truly unforgettable year of Scottish celebration. Homecoming Scotland's website has created an e-card so you can pass on the message to family and friends.