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Tartan Day 2021: Grab your kilt

Celebrate Scottish heritage online this year

Scottish piper stands next to a castle overlooking the ocean

Tartan Day, April 6, is a global celebration of Scottish culture and heritage. Iron your kilts, dress up your terrier, and polish your dancing shoes – there is no shortage of Scottish-themed festivities afoot! There's so much on, the organizers of these Scottish events in New York City deem it Tartan Week, running from April 6 to 11th.

Why April 6th?  It’s the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.  The Declaration of Arbroath was a letter from Scottish barons to the Pope, asserting the independence of the Kingdom of Scotland in the face of unjust English attacks. The idea of promoting Scottish heritage in Canada began among Scottish societies in Canada back in the 1980s, and has since spread to the US and Argentina (where there are about 100,000 people who claim Scottish descent.) Australian’s 3 million Scottish diaspora members beat to the rhythm of their own drum, and celebrate on July 1.  

In an ordinary year, the highlight of Tartan Week in North America is a big parade up Sixth Avenue in New York City – complete with thousands of cheering fans, pipe bands, clan societies, dancers, four-legged participants including Scottish and West Highland terriers, and plenty of tartan-clad marchers.

Like so many events, Tartan Week 2021 celebrations have gone virtual – but if there’s one benefit of these terrible times, perhaps it’s that organizers of all sorts of events are now able to bring them to us, no matter where we are in the world.

So let’s take a look at how you can celebrate Tartan Week 2021. The below events are all online and free.

Investigate your Scottish family history

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society are teaming up with the American Scottish Foundation to present a guide to the most useful online resources for Scottish family history research. Learn how to get the most of these resources and get tips on exploring the lives of your Scottish ancestors. See it on the website on Wednesday, April 7 at 5 PM NY time. (It's free but you must register in advance.)

Attend a Ceilidh

A ceilidh is a big Scottish party, complete with music and dancing. The New York Caledonian Club is hosting a pre-parade virtual ceilidh on Friday, April 9 at 7 PM. The entertainment includes Glasgow band Whisky Kiss, Shot of Scotch Premiere Highland Dancers, American/Celtic Folk Singer Charlie Zahm, NYCC Pipe Band bagpiper, Brian May and many others. Join in the fun on the New York Caledonian Club’s Facebook page.

Watch the Parade

Instead of braving chilly spring winds of New York City in April, sit back and enjoy the virtual parade. No doubt there will be pipers, dancers, and kilts galore. Watch it on the NYCTartanWeek Facebook page or Youtube on Saturday, April 10 at 2 PM.

Take in a trad session over brunch

To close out Tartan Week on the morning after the parade, enjoy a post-parade session of traditional music as you cook up your Sunday brunch. The post-parade session featuring the finest of New York’s Scottish traditional music performers is an annual event. This year, enjoy it online, livestreamed on the New York Caledonian Club’s Facebook page. Watch it on Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 11 AM.

Explore the entertainment on Project 1320

Project 1320 is a virtual, musical celebration of Tartan Day. Organizers created this Facebook page to collect and showcase performances from across the Scottish Diaspora to celebrate Tartan Day 2021. See them all on the Project 1320 Facebook Page.

Take a virtual visit

Visit Scotland is teaming up with NYC Tartan Week to offer virtual visits to some of Scotland’s most intriguing places. Explore “A Year in Shetland – Islands of Opportunity” on April 6 at 4 PM. Visit “Alladale – the Wild Side of the Highlands” on April 7 at 4:30. Take a “Journey Through the Outer Hebrides – Scotland’s Gaelic Islands on April 9 at 6 pm.  All these visits will be on the NYC Tartan Week's Facebook and Youtube.

But that’s not all...

For even more Tartan events, visit the NYC Tartan Week webpage.


Scotland Tours

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This fast-paced Scotland and Ireland tour focuses on their rich history, with plenty of castle tours and museums to help bring the past to life. It's the perfect trip for those interested in…

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Scottish & Irish Gold

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This great combination tour covers the same itinerary in Scotland as on the Scottish & Irish Dream with romantic castles, mythical Isle of Skye, historic Culloden, and Edinburgh. In Ireland…

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Scottish Dream

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Scottish Clans & Castles

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Revisit the past on this leisurely Scottish tour filled with castle ruins, ancient battlefields, and colorful stories from the country's rich history.

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Taste of Scotland & Ireland

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The perfect combination of two great countries in one itinerary. Start in Glasgow before exploring the Scottish Highlands with a Loch Ness cruise and whisky tasting. Visit St Andrews and Edinburgh…

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