When: 17th — 26th April 2014
Where: Central Scotland – along the John Muir Way
£: There are over 50 events as part of the festival, many are free
What is it?
Revered in America, pioneering environmentalist John Muir is less well-known in his homeland of Scotland. But as a new national pathway, the John Muir Way, opens in his honour, the John Muir Festival is bringing John Muir home.
The festival kicks off on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th April with Home – the international launch of The Kelpies. A spectacular family event at Scotland’s newest cultural landmark, Andy Scott’s colossal 30 metre high equine sculptures. The audience is invited to take a magical, illuminated night-time walk through Helix Park, Falkirk and journey past a variety of lighted artworks on the theme of Scotland as ‘Home’ before making their way to monumental sculptures, The Kelpies, for a thrilling light, flame and pulsating sound performance.
First Minister Alex Salmond officially opens the John Muir Way in Muir’s hometown of Dunbar on 21st April. Ramblers, runners and cyclists will be invited to carry Muir-themed flags along the first section of the coast to coast pathway. The free event, supported by East Lothian Council, includes celebratory art, music, performance and food stalls.
Over the following four days, 22nd – 25th April, communities en route can participate directly in the John Muir Festival by carrying bespoke flags along the new pathway. At selected hotspots at North Berwick, Cockenzie, Edinburgh Quay, Blackness Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Callendar House, Kirkintilloch, Strathblane, Croftamie, Balloch Castle, Helensburgh and Loch Lomond Shores, a variety of artworks will be staged.
A gang of bearded John Muir lookalikes will provide fun photo opportunities as well as thought-provoking quotes from Muir’s writings. A camera obscura will provide a new perspective on the surrounding landscape. There will be seed bombing with Scottish wild flowers. In a quieter, more reflective tribute, an American and a Scots poet will walk the length of the John Muir Way at their own pace, planting seeds and reciting poetry along the way.
Finally, on 26th April, the festival and flags will reach the end of the John Muir Way in Helensburgh on the same Clyde coast where 11-year-old Muir and his family set sail for a new life in America. Appropriately – for a founding father of the US National Parks – Scotland’s national park at Loch Lomond will be the venue for a music, art, performance and firework finale.
The new John Muir Way, the concept of the Central Scotland Green Network Partnership Board, is designed to give people in the central belt the opportunity to engage with nature and gain a better understanding of Muir and his legacy. Produced by UZ Arts, the John Muir Festival is funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, Homecoming Scotland and Creative Scotland.
More info: www.johnmuirfestival.com