Argyll has action-packed calendar of events for Year of Coasts and Waters 2020

Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop unveils events set to make a huge splash in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, with local Scottish Surfers, using hashtag : YCW2020. L-R: Surfers Sally Harris, Owen McQueenie, Brian Allen, Sam Christopherson, Tamzin McQueenie and Martin McQueenie
Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop unveils events set to make a huge splash in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

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A series of events are set to make a huge splash in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

From canal carnivals to coastal inspired opera and art, seaweed festivals and science events to thrill-seeking endurance activities and coastal rowing voyages, Scotland’s celebratory themed year will shine a light on a far-reaching programme of events throughout 2020.

Setting sail across spring 2020 (March to May) events supported through the Round 2 Year of Coasts and Waters event fund include: Canal Festival Time Machine will bring to life the tales of the Forth and Clyde Canal through art, music, and performance from the Kelpies to the Falkirk Wheel, and Sea Tamagotchi, part of the year-long programme for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture is a linguistic art project that will seek out and celebrate endangered maritime words and place names in coastal regions, with a focus on the Western Isles.

Splashing into the summer months (June to August): An t-sruthair – a spectacular summer seaside festival, and the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival’s Portsoy Ahoy! will offer an expanded programme with an added focus on our marine environment; the Skye Festival returns with an exciting programme highlighting the distinctiveness of Scotland’s coasts and waters while raising awareness of the need to protect them for future generations.

Steòrnabhagh air a’ Chuan (Stornoway on the Ocean) will celebrate the opening of Stornoway’s new marina with sailing events, workshops, races, ceilidhs offering a vibrant Hebridean cultural experience.

Autumn (September onwards) is set to be awash with new experiences: Taste of Orkney Festival which is set to offer a packed menu of Orkney food and drink experiences and activities, on and off the water.

Autumn of Endurance on Loch Ken, Dumfries and Galloway, will have a series of endurance events for every level including wild swimming, dragon boat racing, kayaking and triathlon; Isle Martin Seaweed Festival will give visitors the chance to experience a range of art installations, music, creative workshops and spoken word inspired by the rich diversity of seaweed; the Northern Lights Festival will feature a large-scale outdoor light and arts festival celebrating Wick Harbour and the Caithness coastline; and Findhorn Bay Festival will have an exciting new Source to Sea programme of activities placing a spotlight on the culture, heritage and natural landscape of Moray’s shimmering rivers and award-winning coastline.

Urquhart Castle will become a treasure chest of Scottish arts and culture as the stories of the sea and lochs come to life with Aiseag (translated as ferry) from Historic Environment Scotland.  Through craft, art, music, animation, film and lighting, the programme of innovative and immersive events will take you on a voyage of discovery to explore Gaelic culture, heritage and traditions.

There are also a number of events and projects that will flow across several months of the celebratory year taking in multiple locations across the country. A new feat of mechanical mastery from Edinburgh’s Vision Mechanics will see STORM – a 10-metre-tall puppet – walk on land to share maritime stories of the sea. She will make her debut as part of Celtic Connections this month as well as appearing at a range of events and communities throughout the year.

Doon the Watter, from Street Level Photoworks will present a year-long photography trail connecting communities on the west coast and the Highlands and Islands.

Rowaround Scotland will see at least 1,000 coastal rowers travel 1,000 miles between Scottish Coastal Rowing Association clubs in a multi-staged voyage.

Nevis Water Stories, presented by Nevis Ensemble, will work with coastal communities to create new orchestral music to be performed across a range of locations including beaches, harbours, castles and schools.

Launch on the Sea with Scotland’s Lifeboats is organised by Screen Argyll Limited. Across the remarkable and varied coastlines of Scotland, RNLI lifeboat crews have been protecting our communities and saving lives at sea for nearly 200 years. The RNLI holds an incredible film and sound archive recording the voices and stories of bravery out on the open sea and in the heart of the communities it serves.

Launch! is an immersive live film performance opening up the RNLI’s archive to international composer, sound artist and beatboxer Jason Singh and award-winning film curator Shona Thomson. Sharing a common obsession with the power of the sea, Jason and Shona are taking inspiration from the footage, sounds and stories to be found in this fascinating collection to create a new audio/visual work that explores our deep coastal connections. Joining Jason and Shona for this live Launch! tour, will be singer-songwriter and traditional musician Jenny Sturgeon of the acclaimed alt-folk band Salt House.

Launch! is presented by Screen Argyll and A Kind of Seeing. It is supported by Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, and by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network and funded by BFI and Screen Scotland.

Travelling Gallery, Coasts and Waters Tour from March 1 to May 1 is a contemporary art gallery in a bus and is unique to Scotland. Their function and core mission is to take their exciting and experimental programme to every part of Scotland, allowing access and learning for all.

For Year of Coasts and Waters they are commissioning new artwork which will bring fresh perspectives and unlock surprising characteristics of our coastlines and heritage. The ambitious programme will tour Scotland’s waters and coasts from March to June 2020.

Ferry Tales in March/April by the National Theatre of Scotland will deliver an imaginative and impactful performance and community project, with the support of CalMac and their ferries, celebrating the waters surrounding Scotland and the journeys over them made by thousands of residents and visitors. Exact locations are still to be confirmed but will be taking place in Argyll and Bute.

The Scottish Islands Peaks Race from May 15 to 18 is an adventure race for teams of sailors and fell runners starting in Oban and sailing through the likes of Arran, Jura and Troon.

Easdale RIB Rendezvous from May 1 to 3 is a rigid inflatable boat adventure weekend on one of the most stunning areas in the UK for boaters due to the fantastic scenery, myriad islands, pristine waters and amazing wildlife. RIBers from all over the UK meet on Easdale Island, 25 minutes south of Oban for a weekend of hardcore boating. This is a free event organised by volunteers. Registration is essential.

Loch Long Adventure Challenge May 2 is a  new sporting event to celebrate the Year of Coasts and Waters in Arrochar which is surrounded by stunning scenery. You will compete in teams of two and each of you have to do a 3.5km kayak (kayak will be a twin sit on top and will be provided), a 24km fairly gruelling cycle on good forestry tracks away from public traffic and a 5km run to finish with.

The Tiree Wave Classic from October 10 to 17 is a world-renowned windsurf wave-sailing competition that is the longest standing wave-sailing event ever. The Tiree Wave Classic 2020 hosts the wave-sailing battle for the Tiree Throne and coveted Broad Sword trophy.

West Coast Waters, bringing together an unprecedented 22 industry groups from across Scotland’s west coast, is a campaign looking to attract visitors to the west coast and surrounding islands in 2020 to either get on or in the water. It received a £40,000 VisitScotland Growth Fund award.

Must Sea Scotland, supported by a £22,500 VisitScotland Growth Fund award, will use 360 degree virtual reality videos of must visit locations around Scotland’s coast to encourage visitors from the UK to take to the water next year and enjoy Scotland’s offering.

David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland regional director, said: ‘The Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have on our country and inspire visitors, locals, and the tourism and events sector to get involved and enjoy everything the year has to offer.

‘The year will celebrate all aspects of Scotland’s visitor experience in relation to coasts and waters, with a focus on unique, authentic experiences and sustainable tourism. The visitor opportunity in terms of experiences and events will focus on our natural environment and wildlife, our historic environment and cultural heritage, activities and adventure and food and drink.

‘Home to 23 inhabited islands, several long sea lochs and a stunning coastline, Argyll and the Isles can aptly be described as the land of coasts and waters. The region boasts a range of tranquil beaches, beautiful scenery, fascinating history and a vibrant culture. Combine this with exciting activities, top attractions, some fantastic restaurants and world-famous distilleries, and you can clearly see that Argyll and the Isles is perfectly poised to make the most of the next themed year.

‘Partnership and collaboration is at the heart of Scottish tourism and I urge every business, group and community in Oban to come together and make the most of this superb opportunity to raise the profile of the town and Scotland on the global stage.

‘YCW2020 is an excellent opportunity for Argyll and the Isles to showcase its fantastic offering and bring in visitors which are a major benefit to the region. Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it is the heart of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.’

For more information about the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 go to

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: ‘We have an exciting year ahead celebrating Scotland’s wonderfully diverse coasts, canals, rivers and lochs.

‘The Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 programme is full of tours and exhibitions, great events, cultural performances, community activities and festivals, supported by over £770,000 of Scottish Government funding. These events will be taking place in locations from Shetland, Dumfries and Galloway, Western Isles to Fife and in the heartlands of our great cities.

‘Scotland’s themed years have been running since 2009 and we know they are a proven mechanism for us all to work together to create opportunities to diversify our tourism offer while promoting Scotland as a great place to visit for people from around the world.

‘More than 60 per cent of the events include an “on the water” activity element. Whether it’s a canal boat holiday, a week sailing round the Western Isles, an afternoon kayaking or walking by our rivers, lochs or on the beaches, I would encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Scotland’s beautiful coasts and waters.’

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: ‘The incredible events receiving funding for the Year of Coasts and Waters are leading examples of how Scotland will shine in 2020. These celebrations will help to showcase the year and country across the globe.

‘We are inviting the world to dive into the amazing experiences our coasts and waters provide. From water inspired myths and legends, historic harbours, rich rivers, captivating canals and sweeping coastlines to the very best in seafood, whisky, wildlife and wellness.

‘Scotland’s enviable reputation for unspoiled beaches, vibrant natural and cultural heritage and thrill-seeking adventure activities will be celebrated through a packed year-long programme of events and activities.’

For more information