The Saltire Festival
A festival celebrating St Andrews Day and the very best of Scottish history, heritage, culture, film, music and food is set to take place in East Lothian (home of Scotland’s iconic Saltire Flag) from 24 to 30 November 2021.
Just a short distance from Scotland’s historic capital city of Edinburgh, The Saltire Festival will host a wide range of events and exhibitions, some of which are free, in leading venues throughout East Lothian.
As the original home of Scotland’s iconic Saltire Flag, surrounded by stunning coastline, rolling countryside and vibrant towns and villages, the region is the perfect place to celebrate this important national day and the very best that Scotland has to offer.
It is said that The St Andrew's Cross or Saltire is Scotland's national flag (the oldest flag in Europe and the Commonwealth) originated in a battle between the Picts (with support from The Scots) and the Saxons close to the East Lothian village of Athelstaneford in the dark ages (believed to have been 832AD).
Fearing the outcome of the encounter, King Angus led prayers for deliverance, and was rewarded by seeing a cloud formation of a white saltire (the diagonal cross on which St Andrew had been martyred) against the blue sky. The king vowed that if he gained the victory with the saint’s help, then Andrew would become to be the patron saint of Scotland. They did win and the Saltire became the flag of Scotland.
The Flag Heritage Centre at Athelstaneford is open from April to October where visitors can enjoy a short audio-video dramatisation of the traditional origins of Scotland's flag . Admission is free.
The programme includes events at The Brunton, a world-class theatre and entertainment venue located in the town of Musselburgh:
From Scotland’s own highly acclaimed contemporary roots and folk musician, Kris Drever. General admission price £17; to
West-End star Keith Jack and the MacDonald Bros, who will co-host an evening celebrating some of Scotland’s greatest music icons – including The Proclaimers, Lewis Capaldi & Dougie Maclean. General admission price £25.
The festival will also celebrate Scotland in Film, with a special screening of the cult Scottish comedy-drama 'Local Hero' starring Peter Riegert, Burt Lancaster and Denis Lawson. The film follows a young oil executive on a journey to Scotland to buy a whole village on behalf of the oil company he works for, which is run by Happer (Burt Lancaster). Those who will be watching the film for the first time at the festival, will find out why to this day, visitors from all over the world come to Scotland just to find a phone box featured in the film. Tickets from £7 to £8.
For fans of Diana Galbaldon’s best-selling Outlander novels and hit global TV series, Dr Aaron Johnston will host a free Prestonpans Battlefield by Night walking tour. The event will explore the forgotten story of the events that took place the night before the Battle of Prestonpans. The battle in East Lothian was the first significant engagement of the Jacobite Rising in 1745, when Jacobite forces led by Bonnie Prince Charlie defeated the Hanoverian ‘redcoats’ army under Sir John Cope. The battle lasted less than thirty minutes and led to the Jacobite’s invasion of England. The first Outlander stories are largely based around the Jacobite rebellion and the events that followed.
For foodies looking for a stress-free shopping experience, the Haddington Farmers’ Market offers a wide range of local produce and seasonal food and drink. It’s the perfect place for festival goers to pick up some ingredients to cook their very own authentic St Andrew’s Day meal at home.
Back at The Brunton, the 'Wherever a Scotsman goes...' John Muir and Robert Burns Exhibition will be free to view throughout November. It tells the story of locally born global conservation pioneer John Muir and the role Scotland’s national bard played in inspiring him.
Whether 'sauntering' in the Sierra foothills, exploring the Alaskan glaciers, rediscovering Scotland or travelling the World, Muir always had Burns with him. As he said himself, he “had him by heart… On my first long walk, I carried a copy of Burn’s poems and sang them all the way. All the country and the people, beasts and birds, seemed to like them.”
Muir’s knowledge and love of Burns appears throughout his letters and writing, some of which will be displayed in this free Saltire Festival exhibition.
For more information about The Saltire Festival visit www.saltirefestival.com