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Answer the Celtic Call as Australia Celebrates a Year of Scottish Culture, Music and Arts in 2020

June 17, 2019 Destination Europe No Comments Email Email

Pay homage to the art, music and culture of the Scottish cities, highlands, lochs, moors and isles with 35 festivals across Australia signing on to participate in the Year of Scotland in Australia 2020 (YOSA 2020).

YOSA 2020 begins at Woodford Folk Festival on 27 December 2019, going on to incorporate events in every Australian state and territory until 1 January 2021.

These two traditional Hogmanay celebrations will bookmark hundreds of activities across the year showcasing the remarkable quality and diversity of Scottish musical culture.

YOSA 2020 activities include expansions to the National Celtic Festival’s annual ceilidh trail, Scottish artists touring regional and remote areas via the Festival of Small Halls Australia, food and drink events as well as a renewed focus on world renowned Scottish cultural celebrations such as Burns Night, St Andrew’s Day, Highland Games and Clan Gatherings.

Festivals and events of all sizes – from a 125,000-capacity celebration to an intimate 50-person event – will experience the best of Scottish music and culture in Australia in 2020.

Organiserssaythe unprecedented year-long programme of events came about collaboratively after a group of festival directors and agents were welcomed to Scotland in August 2018 for The Visit organised by Showcase Scotland Expowhere they were enchanted by the wealth of Scottish talent across traditional, folk and roots music.

As 2020 marks the year of Coasts and Waters in Scotland – a celebration of the country’s 10,000km coastline and spectacular lochs, seas, streams and rivers – YOSA 2020 will incorporate a program of music, art and activities referencing the Celtic lifeblood.

“This year the National Celtic Festival is giving a huge shout out to Scotland. We are announcing the Year of Scotland in Australia, 2020, with a top-class line up of Scottish acts across music, dance, film, Kin in the Community project and yes, Highland Cattle are showing. Connecting to the heart of Scottish culture here in Australia, we are looking forward to being part of the Year in 2020! ”said Una MacAlinden, Director of the National Celtic Festival.

Executive Producer of the Showcase Scotland Expo, Lisa Whytock said: “We are delighted to see this year take shape. There have always been strong connections with Australia and Scotland and this seems a great way to celebrate those.

“Showcase Scotland Expo exists to further opportunity for our artists and to facilitate co-operation and support around the globe, although this is the first time ever that we have seen a full calendar year of activities and we would like to extend a thank you to all of those involved. We really look forward to bringing some of Scotland’s finest musicians to Australia and to work closely with all of the festivals, venues and organisations who have come together to make this year possible.”

Ms Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Scottish Government said“Scotland maintains an enduring relationship with Australia that dates back many years, and this is a phenomenal opportunity to further this with musicians on both sides of the globe sharing our dynamic traditional music scene.”

“This will leave a lasting legacy for our artists and performers to tour in Australia and share our culture even more. My hope is that countless people ‘down under’ will be introduced to our music, heritage and culture, and that new working partnerships will be delivered creating demand from audiences for continued Scottish performances beyond next year.”

Creative Scotland’s Head of Music, Alan Morrison, said:“There’s a special historical bond between Scotland and Australia that will only get stronger through this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. By bringing Scotland’s traditional music to stages all the way across Australia, we’ll be able to feed the hunger of a diaspora eager to know more about their family heritage, but also reach Australian audiences from all backgrounds who just want to hear the brilliant, world-class music that energises the Scottish scene.

“As well as presenting some of our best-known tradition-bearers, we can introduce an entire generation of emerging talent to new audiences on the other side of the planet and raise the global recognition of ourhome-grown culture. Creative Scotland is proud and excited to be part of the team that will make this happen on an unprecedented scale.”

According to the 2016 Australian census, 119,416 Australian residents were born in Scotland, while 2,023,474 claimed Scottish ancestry.

YOSA 2020 will give those of Scottish heritage a taste of home while satisfying renewed interest in Scottish culture generated by recent film and television productions including Outlanderand Mary, Queen of Scots.

At least 40 acts will visit Australia for festivals and tours during YOSA 2020, including award-winning indie-folk band Elephant Sessions, from the Highlands.

“We love touring in Australia, it’s a brilliant country full of class people and places. We’ve had some of our best times as a band at Byron Bay Bluesfest and the Blue Mountains Folk Festival in Katoomba,”said Elephant Sessions.

“We played Bluesfest twice last year and then again this year and each time we have been met with an amazing audience response that has made us feel so welcome and at home. We are heading back out again in 2020 and will be one of the first bands to appear as part of the Year of Scotland Australia 2020, which is a total honour for us.

“It’s very exciting to be heading back out again so soon and we are really looking forward to Australia discovering even more bands from Scotland as part of the year. We are sure that they will be made as welcome as we have been on our first two trips!”

Woodford Folk Festival’s Head of Programming, Chloe Goodyear, said: “We are so excited to be acting as a presenting partner with Woodford Folk Festival, Festival of Small Halls, The Planting and our boutique touring programme, as well as to assist with the coordinating of the Year.

“Australia has a beautifully cooperative festival scene, especially within the folk world, and many of the events who have signed up have been presenting Scottish talents for years – they’re just happy to work further together to try to increase benefits for each other and for the artists. In addition, we’re speaking with organisations and events we’ve not yet worked with before – there’s so much enthusiasm for the idea of Year of Scotland, and everyone has a story about their town or grandparent that they can’t wait to tell.”

YOSA 2020 is supported by a range of organisations across Scotland including Showcase Scotland Expo, The Scottish Government, Visit Scotland, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Music Centre. In Australia, YOSA 2020 is produced by Woodfordia Inc.

Festivals, community events and groups who would like to be involved in the Year of Scotland in Australia 2020 can learn more at

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