Music, drama, debate, exhibitions and a spectacular fireworks display are only part of an action-packed menu lined up for this autumn’s St Andrews Festival in celebration of Scotland’s patron saint.
Plans for the extravaganza are now well under way as part of the St Andrews Year of Celebration 2012, showcasing the fantastic array of events under the united banner of St Andrews, Creative Place.
The festival programme of Scottish-themed celebrations is an opportunity to promote the town and the surrounding area’s rich cultural and artistic heritage.
Its signature events - the popular torchlight procession, stunning fireworks display and Nae4wimps ceilidh - will take place on Saint Andrew’s Day itself, November 30.
Also in the pipeline are a St Andrews Food Festival in collaboration with the St Andrews Partnership, featuring the best of Fife food and drink, and John Knox’s Pulpit, when a leading national figure will deliver an address from the same pulpit that triggered the Scottish Reformation.
It will be followed by a debate entitled Scotland, Where are we, How did we get here and Where are we going? in partnership with St Andrews University.
For the first time, the festival will extend over 10 days to accommodate the staging in the Byre Theatre of Macpherson’s Rant, which will bring together professional actors, musicians and performers alongside a large-scale community cast in a brand-new musical production.
Based on the historic tale of James Macpherson, hanged in Banff for being a gypsy and who smashed his fiddle on the gallows tree as he sung Macpherson’s Lament, the production is the centrepiece of the St Andrews Year of Celebration and an example of the high level of community arts engagement that the town’s cultural organisations strive towards.
Earlier this year, St Andrews was announced as the winner of the inaugural Creative Place Award, a national initiative that recognised and rewarded the contribution of local organisations to the cultural life of Scotland’s communities.
It included a cash prize of £150,000 as winner in the category for places with fewer than 100,000 residents - beating off competition from the runners-up, Irvine and Perth - to help the town host its own Year of Celebration in 2012, promote its already varied cultural programme to visitors, support a new community musical theatre production and provide a lasting legacy of a new shared administrative base for local cultural groups.
Other events that are part of the St Andrews Year of Celebration include the already completed StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, the Fife Jazz Festival and the On The Rocks Student Arts Festival, while future initiatives include the Crail Food Festival, the East Neuk Festival, the World Saxophone Congress, the Byre Youth Theatre Production of Bugsy Malone, Inside Out Street Theatre and Outdoor Performance Festival in St Andrews and the St Andrews University 600th anniversary celebrations.