The organisers of the fourth annual Scot:Lands festival, a free pop-up multi-arts festival hosted on New Year’s day, announced their full programme earlier today.

Sivaranjiha Sivapatham and Gabriella Albornoz from Dance Ihayami at the launch of Scot:Lands

The festival is part of the three day Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festival and includes artists and arts organisations from all around Scotland in nine venues throughout Edinburgh’s Old Town.

The programme this year includes a celebration of the 900th anniversary of the St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, a preview of the 2017 Wigtown Book Festival and contemporary interpretations of the works of Scottish bards Sorley MacLean and Robert Tannahill.

Each of the nine Old Town venues will have a title and a theme of some kind and the exact location for each has not yet been revealed. As with previous years, visitors to the festival must spin a roulette wheel in order to receive a landing card with directions from one event to another.

Titles for the upcoming festival venues include “Nether:Land”,”This:Land”, “Mountain Thyme:Land”, “Sorley:Land”, “New Scots:Land”, “Wigtown:Land”, “Orcadia:Land”, “High:Land” and a special venue for younger children called “Sprogmanay”

Unique Events, who organise Scot:Lands as well as Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, received funding from the Scottish Government in order to put on the one day arts festival.

The Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP told The Edinburgh Reporter that the government was pleased to be involved with the event: “The Scottish Government has always wanted to see big celebrations, not just on Hogmanay, but on the 1st of January as well.

“That is why we have provided £200,000 as part of the Scottish Government Expo Fund to help fund Scot:Lands.

“Scot:Lands is the celebration of Scottish culture that takes place in nine different venues. It’s a surprise where people might end up and what they might see. It’s a real exploration of the different types of culture we have in Scotland but also from different places.

“From Orcadialand 900 years of St Magnus Cathedral and the recognition of that but also new Scot:Lands.

“So we have dance – we have Dance Ihayami here with us today for example. And we want to celebrate all the contributions of those who have chosen to live in Scotland and to explore the different cultures that they are bringing to Scotland.

“There’s also Let’s Dance which will be an amazing dance festival and we are involving NeuReekie! and Wigtown:Land involving books from Wigtown and also some of the music and celebration there so if you want to delve into Scottish culture, if you want to have a lovely wander round this wonderful Old Town of Edinburgh and celebrate Scotland in style and in a family friendly way then Scot:Lands on the first of January is where you need to be.”

Unique Events are the official organisers behind the day’s event. For the company, Pete Irvine told us: “Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has always had a programme on New Year’s Day which addresses the fact that there are so many people. Every hotel, B&B etc is full. Loads of people are out and want to do something and we’ve always thought it was good they did something rather different from the night before, something more reflective, something perhaps more directly cultural .

“We’ve had all kinds of things on New Year’s Day through the years, but for the last four years – this is the fourth year of Scot:Lands it means that we bring artistes from all over Scotland to the capital in ways you would never see them before or again. It’s like a pop-up festival within a festival.

“We have nine lands this year. We always try to find interesting buildings and rooms and this year we have the most interesting set of architectural and design kind of areas and spaces than we have ever had before.

“There’s about five new venues and quite a lot of the venues which people never go into. So it will be a discovery in terms of the space. A lot of the spaces you are going to walk in and think Wow! This is one of them here but we won’t say what is on here because we don’t do that. You only find out when you have spun the compass which is like a giant roulette wheel and you’re given a Landing card. That’s the first time you know where you are going and what you’re going to see. We list in all the pre-publicity the various lands and who you can expect to see but you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get. What you do get is loads of music, both traditional hokey and contemporary. There’s a lot of film this year, a lot of projection stuff, dance and spoken word, and a whole melange of different things put together for one afternoon only.

It’s deliberately and emphatically all free. You need to register, you need to get a ticket, but once you’re on that journey it’s yours.”

Visitors to the upcoming Scot:Lands festival have a choice of family-friendly venues to explore.

At Nether:Land visitors can expect to find an eclectic mix of spoken-word and songs presented by TRACS and Flint & Pitch.

At This:Land archive film curator Shona Thomson shines a light on Scotland’s celluloid past, exploring our national film collections, revealing dramatic land and seascape, forgotten streets and inspiring life stories, accompanied by live music scores including the beatboxing of Jason Singh.

Mountain Thyme:Land offers a celebration of Scotland’s ‘secret bard’ Robert Tannahill with music and poetry from Eddi Reader, James Grant and the Tannahill Weavers and Tannahill Singers while, orchestrated by Neu! Reeky!.

Sorley:Land welcomes an array of the hippest, brightest talents who pay a very modern homage to the great Scottish makar Sorley MacLean.

New Scots:Land celebrates the contribution that those from other countries (who’ve made their home here), have made to enrich Scottish culture.  Expect vibrant, colourful music, dance, theatre and film from artists including Dance Ihayami, Samba Sene & Diwan and Annie George and Alloysious Massaquoi. 

Wigtown:Land presents a taster of Scotland’s Book Town with a stellar line up of authors, the famed Bookshop Band and a celebration of Burns and the Galloway SongBook and Orcadia:Land will host a mesmerising meditation created by composer Alasdair Nicolson to mark Orkney’s St  Magnus:  900 years. 

Let’s Dance:Land offers a truly awesome warehouse party experience with DJs, old school hip hop, new disco mashups and pop ups strictly from the ballroom and, on stage, the ground-breaking dance group PRIME.   Fèis Rois, who celebrate their 30th birthday this year, will take audiences on a journey north.

In High:Land you will experience the Gaelic language, outstanding fiddle playing and the very best of complimentary Highland hospitality.

Scot:Lands is suitable for families, however for those with younger children the Sprogmanay activities will take place in the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street from noon to 4.00pm where they can enjoy special Hogmanay Arts and Crafts, live music performances, Scottish storytellers who will be performing throughout the building and a Hogmanay Map Trail where children can explore the Museum and discover fun facts. 

Families are invited to create and decorate a giant cardboard Dazzle Ship with the Edinburgh Art Festival, and try out orchestral instruments or make their own percussion instruments with musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Book your tickets here.