The celebrations marking the 250th anniversary since the birth of Sir Walter Scott will begin this weekend.
To launch the year long series of events a spectacular light show will take place at Smailholm Tower near Kelso, overlooking the farm where Scott spent his childhood, on Saturday evening.
An online broadcast of the event will introduce the Smailholm Tower light show to a worldwide audience from 6pm on Saturday 20th March. "We've been waiting for this moment for quite some time, the anniversary year is beginning!" Says Giles Ingram, Chief Executive of Abbotsford House, one of the Walter Scott 250 partners and organisers."And it's just fantastic were doing it here at Smailholm which is where Scott spent so much of his childhood and it was so formative in stimulating the imagination of the man that went on and told stories to the world.
He continued: "So many people internationally are incredible ardent followers of Scott inspired of the great rip roaring stories he told that people still enjoy reading today.“World Storytelling Day seemed the appropriate time to launch the celebrations, asScott is renowned as one of the world’s greatest storytellers.
"Scott’s life and death is written on the Borders landscape, so Smailholm’s intimate link with Scott gives it a particular potency and magic as we begin the celebrations of his 250th year.”
Sir Walter Scott, whose much loved works include Rob Roy, Waverley, and The Lady of the Lake, was famously inspired by the wild and rugged landscapes of the Scottish Borders, and those across the country as a whole.
It's been well documented how much Scotland meant to him, but over the last 250 years, just how important has he been to Scotland?Visit Scotland has described Scott as 'the father of Scottish tourism.'
"He was the first person that really put Scotland on the map as a place to visit," explained Riddell Graham, Director of Industry and Destination Development at Visit Scotland."Probably before that people disregarded it in that sense, and by his writings he stimulated an interest in Scotland like no one else before, stimulated the idea of actually coming to Scotland to experience the fantastic landscapes, the history, and the heritage."
Visit Scotland Film & Creative Industries Manager Jenni Steele added: "His life and works are an important piece of the fabric of Scotland’s rich history and continue to play an important role in drawing visitors to explore the locations connected to the writer himself, as well as the places brought to life in his work. "With one in six people inspired to visit destinations they know from books, TV or film, the year-long programme of celebrations to mark this important milestone will help shine the spotlight on his legacy in the Scottish Borders, as well as right across the country."
The year long programme of events to mark Walter Scott 250 have been somewhat curbed by the pandemic. It means many events will be held virtually until the tourism industry can reopen and public gatherings are permitted.
Saturday's online broadcast will be presented by Brian Taylor, former BBC correspondent and past President of the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club.
It will feature well known Scott fans including award-winning author and presenter Damian Barr, Scottish historian Professor Sir Tom Devine, TV presenter, author and journalist Kirsty Wark and Outlander author Diana Gabaldon.