Once Upon A Scotland Week… Scotland Week 2013 Highlights!

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Shetland Vikings in Time Square, New York Group Photo

Welcome back to Scotland Week! Last week we posted about the celebrations happening across the pond in the US and Canada, now it’s time to take a look back at the exciting highlights. The week-long festivities included launch events for Homecoming 2014, a pop-up Survival Academy with the Bear Grylls Survival Team in Central Park, a culinary evening with Chef Michael Smith of The Three Chimneys and more.

Here’s an insider’s look at some of the crowning moments!

“Come Home to Scotland” #Homecoming2014 Launch

Joined by media contacts, partners and selected attendees, we launched #Homecoming2014 in New York and Toronto – welcoming the world to come visit. Outfitted with Scottish flare, the venues were decked from top-to- bottom with vibrant designs courtesy of ANTA, BEGG of Scotland, Timorous Beasties, Johnstons of Elgin and Calzeat, as well as photography, artwork and more, to create a true “Come Home to Scotland” feel.

In New York, First Minister Alex Salmond introduced to guests some of the Homecoming 2014 events they can expect all over Scotland next year, and in Toronto, Transport Minister Keith Brown did them same, also letting people know about the fantastic direct access from Canada to Scotland with Air Transat and from July, Air Canada Rouge.

Attendees were treated to a full sensory experience, as Chef Michael Smith of The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye cooked up delights to highlight Scotland’s natural larder; expert genealogist Dr. Bruce Durie helped those interested in their Scottish heritage to start digging up their roots; Bruichladdich offered tastes of Scotland’s gin and whisky inspired by Islay’s rugged landscape. All the while, talented Shetland knitter Doreen Brown showcased and entertained with fast-clicking pins and local stories. Doreen’s knitwear recently achieved great praise when it was worn by Scotland’s cutest ambassadors, Fivla and Vitamin the Shetland ponies.  The evenings also included rousing live performances by Scottish musical talent ranging from Rachel Sermanni to Breabach.

Bear Grylls Survival Academy in Central Park

Shining a spotlight on the Scottish Highlands, we partnered with the Bear Grylls Survival Academy to recreate one of their popular survival courses in Central Park. Scott Heffield, who is a professional mountaineer and the lead instructor at the academies offered up a taste of Scotland including primal response and protection tutorials, rock rappelling, a gross eat (meal worms and dirty water!) and flame ignition tutorials. The July, August and September 2013 dates for these courses in the Highlands are currently sold out, but due to demand, additional dates are now available in October. Check it out if you are interested!

Chef Michael Smith of The Three Chimneys at Highlands NYC

In honour of Scotland’s incredible culinary offerings, Chef Michael Smith of famed Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye crafted a unique, delicious Scottish menu in collaboration with Highland’s Chef Chris Rendell. Optional whisky pairings were available to accompany the four-course pre-fix menu, which was appreciated equally by paying New Yorkers and special media guests from titles such as The Daily Meal, New York Daily News and Food & Wine. Highlands is a contemporary, authentic gastro pub located in NYC’s West Village.

Shetland Ponies in cardigans on ABC’s “Good Morning America!”

You’ve never seen cute until you’ve seen two freshly bathed Shetland ponies dressed in a pair of Shetland cardigans and strutting their stuff on morning TV. “Good Morning America” welcomed our two Shetland ponies to celebrate Scotland and gave a big shout out for National Tartan Day at the same time.

The Scotland Run and Tartan Day Parade

On April 6, we proudly participated in the New York Tartan Day Parade with hundreds of people all walking together and proud to be honouring their Scottish heritage – with actor Kevin McKidd among them as the parade Grand Marshall. Before the parade, we joined active New Yorkers in Central Park for the annual Scotland Run, this year celebrating its 10th anniversary. With many outfitted in tartan, it was great to see runners displaying their Scottish pride and National Geographic’s ‘Digital Nomad’ Andrew Evans, who recently visited Scotland, joined the festivities in a kilt.

Shetland Vikings in Times Square

What stops traffic in Times Square? Not much, but Scottish Vikings seemed to do the trick. After a long trek from Shetland, these (now famous) Shetland Vikings were popular among tourists and locals alike during their photo shoot in Times Square. Not to mention that they made their VH1 TV debut!

What’s cooking, Canada? Canadians get a taste of Scottish cuisine on “Canada AM”

Chef Michael Smith made a return appearance on “Canada AM,” the most popular morning show across Canada. The live cooking segment brought to life Scotland’s natural foodie experiences and produce. You can catch the clip on the Canada AM website.

We hope you enjoyed the highlights. Scotland Week may now have come to an end, but the events in Scotland keep going. Check out our events in Scotland section for more and take part!

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Calum Shepherd

Search & Social Media Manager at VisitScotland
Attempting to get you some fresh ideas and inspiration for a great time in Scotland. Interests include biking, snowboarding and everything digital. Catch me on Twitter.