Clans, culture and commentators at Holyrood's historic weekend


Get set for a mix of clans, culture and commentators as the Scottish Parliament prepares for a weekend filled with reflection on Scottish history and debate on Scotland’s future.

From Friday to Sunday, the Parliament will host a conference of clans, a forum for the diaspora and welcome members of the public on Sunday for a day of exploring Holyrood.

Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP said: “As a Parliament, we are proud to welcome the people of Scotland and their far-flung cousins to Holyrood. In one short weekend of three events, we anticipate welcoming thousands to see their Parliament and to join in debate and discussion on Scottish culture from its ancient roots to its role in the present day.”

On Friday 24 July, Holyrood will welcome more than 100 clan chiefs when it hosts the Clan Convention, organised by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs in partnership with the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body and The Gathering 2009. This is the first time the senior representatives of so many Highland and Lowland Scottish surnames have assembled together in such numbers in one place.

Part of the Scottish Government’s Homecoming 2009 celebrations, the Convention, which is chaired by the Presiding Officer, aims to bring together Scotland’s clan chiefs and clan representatives from across the world. Delegates will explore tradition and culture and will debate how the kinship embodied by Scottish clans, names and families has a relevance to 21st-century Scotland and will include an address by Jim Mather MSP, Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism

There are more Homecoming events scheduled for Saturday 25 July with the Scottish Diaspora Forum, which will be held in the Scottish Parliament’s debating chamber.

The event, entitled ‘A future for our past’, will discuss and debate the heritage of the Scottish diaspora; the values of Scottish identity; the links between Scotland and its diaspora; and the ways to work better together, to mutual advantage.

The Presiding Officer will chair the event, with contributions from former presiding officers Sir David Steel and George Reid. The event features a Dragon’s Den-style debate and includes high-profile speakers such as Professor Tom Devine, Jim Naughtie, Lesley Riddoch and Michael Russell MSP, Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution.

Both these Chamber events will be webcast on

Finally, to complete the weekend, the Parliament will be opening its doors to visitors on Sunday 26 July from 11.00-17.30. Members of the public will be invited to explore the Parliament’s debating chamber, a committee room, the MSPs' glazed walkway, the main staircase and the Garden Lobby on a free-flow self-guided tour. The crèche will be available, along with the Parliament’s shop selling the new official tartan of the Scottish Parliament.

On Friday and Saturday there will be no guided tours at the Parliament owing to these events. The Parliament will open to the public at 15.00 on Friday, 11.00 on Saturday and 11.00 on Sunday.

The Clan Convention is organised by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs and provides the opportunity for clan chiefs and heads of families from across Scotland and around the world to gather and deliberate on the organisation of Scotland’s worldwide kinship network.

McGregor Events and Consulting have organised the Scottish Diaspora Forum taking place on Saturday 25 July, which is running in conjunction with The Clan Gathering 2009 as part of the Homecoming 2009 celebrations.

The Clan Gathering 2009 is a celebration of the contribution made by clans to the culture and history of Scotland.

Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrates the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth with a year-long programme of events across the country. Homecoming 2009 is celebrating some of Scotland’s great contributions to the world: golf, whisky, great minds and innovations, and Scotland’s rich culture and heritage

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