Holyrood hosts St Andrew's Day activities from dawn to dusk


Holyrood is hosting a full day of activities on St Andrew’s Day (Monday 30 November) to mark the end of the Year of Homecoming and the national saint’s day, bringing together pupils, performers and photographers.

Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP said: “This year’s St Andrew’s Day celebrations are particularly special, as we reach the end of 2009 – a Year of Homecoming and a year when the Parliament has marked its own decade of devolution.”

St Andrew’s Day Debate
Starting in the morning, students from schools and universities across Scotland will compete to win the St Andrew’s Day debating prize.

Running for its third year, the university and school teams will be paired together to debate their way through to the championship final. As with previous years, seven universities from across Scotland – Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Stirling and Strathclyde – will participate, but this year the university students will be joined by pupils from a number of schools across Scotland as well.

Heats will commence at 10am with the final, chaired by the Deputy Presiding Officer Alasdair Morgan MSP, taking place in the Debating Chamber from 2pm to 3.30pm. A judging panel, together with Deputy Presiding Officer Trish Godman MSP, will decide on the winning team as well as awarding prizes to the best debaters throughout the competition.

In the afternoon, the sound of Burns will fill the Parliament’s Garden Lobby as the ten finalists of the Burnsong song contest play a showcase concert hosted by the Presiding Officer, Alex Fergusson MSP.

The Big Gig will present the ten finalists performing their winning songs to an audience of MSPs, representatives from the music industry and the Scottish public. The concert will be presented by BBC Radio Scotland’s Iain Anderson.

Burnsong was started in 2005 with the objective of promoting, encouraging and nurturing songwriting in Scotland and has since been held bi-annually.

During the Year of Homecoming, the song-writing competition named in the Bard’s honour looked for new songs of hope and optimism. For the first time, the competition was opened internationally and songwriters from around the world were invited to enter. A panel of experienced judges including music and media-industry professionals reviewed all entries anonymously and the ten finalists were selected.

The winners were invited to take part in a week-long residential "songhouse" at a rural farmhouse in the Scottish countryside that Burns knew and loved. The songwriters were then guided and supported by mentor Joe Bennett (UK Songwriting Festival/Bath Spa University) and producer Chris Blanden (Real World Studios) through a succession of tasks and collaborations designed to develop, enhance and extend their songwriting skills.

This is Who We Are
To conclude the day, Canadian guests, including the Deputy High Commissioner, Claude Boucher, and MSPs will gather in the evening for the closing of This is Who We Are, a photography exhibition that explores the connections between Canada and Scotland through people and places.

The exhibition was created by Graeme Murdoch and Harry McGrath of Cultural Connect Scotland. The two men travelled across Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, visiting communities which derive their names from Scottish sources and helping people they met tell the stories of their own communities and their connection to Scotland through digital photography, video interviews and text.

Members of the public are welcome to watch the final of the St Andrew's Day Debate in the Main Chamber. If you would like to attend, please contact our Visitor Services team. Schools taking part in the debate are:

  • Aberdeen Grammar School (Aberdeen Central)
  • Abronhill High School (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth)
  • Bearsden Academy (Strathkelvin and Bearsden)
  • Boroughmuir High School (Edinburgh Central)
  • Craigmount High School (Edinburgh West)
  • Dumfries Academy (Dumfries )
  • High School of Dundee (Dundee West)
  • Fettes College (Edinburgh West)
  • George Heriot's School (Edinburgh Central)
  • George Watson's College (Edinburgh South)
  • The Glasgow Academy (Glasgow Kelvin)
  • High School of Glasgow (Glasgow Anniesland)
  • McLaren High School (Stirling )
  • Mearns Castle High School (Eastwood)
  • Morrison's Academy (Perth)
  • St Columba’s School (West Renfrewshire )
  • St Thomas School Aquinas Secondary School (Glasgow Kelvin)
  • Stewarton Academy (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)
  • Uddingston Grammar (Hamilton North and Bellshill)
  • Wallace High School (Stirling)

To obtain a ticket to the Big Gig, please contact our Visitor Services team.  

This is Who We Are is open to members of the public on Monday 30 November. Canadian locations featured in the exhibition which are named after Scottish places include:

  • Edinburgh
  • New Glasgow
  • Inverness
  • Iona
  • Lismore
  • Rothesay
  • Perth
  • Lanark
  • Hamilton
  • Irvine
  • Aberdeen
  • Selkirk
  • Calgary (named after Calgary Bay, Mull)
  • Airdrie
  • Banff
  • Canmore
  • Coldstream
  • Abbotsford
  • Fintry
  • Cragallachie
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