The Scottish Government has backed Scotland’s Winter Festivals with £550,000 beginning on 30 November, St Andrew’s Day and running all the way through to Burns Night on 25 January.

Ben Macpherson MSP Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development welcomed the Nevis Ensemble who had entertained passengers on an Edinburgh Tram before playing for passers by. They are representative of the kind of cultural events which make up the Winter Festivals.

Mr Macpherson explained that the idea is to encourage Scots to #MakeSomeonesDay by doing something kind for someone else on St Andrew’s Day.

He said : “Today we have launched the new initiative for St Andrew’s Day this year which is #MakeSomeonesDay. What we are doing is encouraging to take part in the events that are happening, but also to do something kind on the day or the Saturday following which is St Andrew’s Fair Saturday. It could be something you do for a friend, a neighbour or a stranger, or giving to a local or international charity. Whatever everyone thinks will make someone’s day, we are encouraging them to do it in celebration of our nation’s spirit and compassion.

Minister Ben Macpherson with musicians at St Andrew Square
Ben Macpherson MSP Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development along with Jordi Albareda of the Fair Saturday Foundaton and members of the Nevis Ensemble

On St Andrew’s Day the Minister will be taking part in a torchlight procession in Glasgow but will attend events in Edinburgh on St Andrew’s Fair Saturday. He explained : “It was a Scottish Government decision to do this and of course next year it will be more exciting because it will be St Andrew’s Day on Fair Saturday – another opportunity for everyone to make a contribution and celebrate our diverse nation.”

The new event on 1 December, St Andrew’s Fair Saturday, takes its inspiration from the Fair Saturday Foundation which began in Bilbao, Spain. That organisation tries to counter all the consumerism and excesses of Black Friday with a programme of cultural events which fundraise for charities.

Jordi Albareda is the founder of the movement and he was in Edinburgh today to help The Scottish Government launch the Winter Festival programme. He said : “I think it is difficult to explain where the idea came from, but we are living in hard times. Consumerism and materialism are strong forces. We need to think in a different way.

“One of the pillars of our society is culture and another is social empathy, kindness to care about other people’s needs. This wonderful marriage between culture and social empathy

“The day after Black Friday, probably the most consumerism oriented day in the year could provoke a massive mobilisation around art and culture.”

Edinburgh’s Christmas is taking part in St Andrew’s Fair Saturday when all proceeds from Silent Light, this season’s flagship event, on 1 December will support three charities: Deafblind Scotland, National Deaf Children Society and Royal National Institute of Blind People

An artist impression of Silent Night new for 2018