Visitors and locals across Scotland are invited to ‘dip their toes’ into Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 with a range of early-year activity across January and February celebrating the forthcoming themed year.
Message From The Skies returns to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (1 – 25 Jan) with Shorelines, a collection of letters to Scotland reflecting our relationship with our seas, waters and coasts, and our maritime heritage.   Welcoming the beginning of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, the words of five celebrated writers: Charlotte Runcie, Irvine Welsh, Kathleen Jamie, Kayus Bankole and Robin Robertson will illuminate and animate landmarks around the city from Fountainbridge to Leith.
Fire & Light: 2020 Visions, an illuminated outdoor event taking place at The Helix on January 1 and 2 will encourage visitors to embrace the adventure of a New Year with a walk through The Helix park towards the magical Kelpies, interacting with an amazing array of performances and installations along the way.   Once visitors reach The Kelpies, they can enjoy fire jets that will be choreographed to the powerful live performance of the Taiko Drummers.  When the drumming stops, an LED clad musician will perform on a spectacular laser harp, celebrating the iconic waterways of Falkirk.
Celtic Connections will celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters with a full day of special events all anchored to the maritime traditions that have shaped the country’s history. ‘Coastal Connections’ (18 Jan) a spectacular one-off festival within a festival will take place across multiple spaces and stages of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
As well as Scotland’s greatest ‘Coastal’ bands and emerging artists along with a few International surprises, the packed programme will also include talks, film, story-telling and workshops. The waters around Scotland and the shore-to-shore journeys made by residents and visitors will also be celebrated as part of the day with a musical contribution from Ferry Tales, a forthcoming production from the National Theatre of Scotland.  Screen Argyll and A Kind of Seeing will also debut the live performance of Launch! On The Sea with Scotland’s Lifeboats as part of the dayComposer Jason Singh and a line-up of world-class musicians will perform their live soundtrack to RNLI archive films.
As part of the Coastal Connections day, Scottish Natural Heritage will also be premiering Message in a Bottle, a special collaboration with traditional musician Ingrid Henderson that will celebrate Scotland’s unique marine environment. The audio-visual performance will feature music inspired by the movements of ocean currents and the imagined journey of a message in a bottle. It will be accompanied by a specially-commissioned animation exploring the amazing journeys made by marine wildlife and seabirds, our dependence on the seas over time, the exchanges of language and culture around our coasts and our impacts on the world’s oceans.
Edinburgh-based visual theatre company, Vision Mechanics will also reveal their epic new project to the world as part of Celtic Connections coastal themed festival on 18 Jan. Storm – a ten-metre-tall mythical goddess of the sea will celebrate Glasgow’s shoreline and beyond through a giant free outdoor event. Made from entirely recycled and natural resources, reminding us of our duty to care for the incredible coasts and water environments around Scotland, she stands at over two double decker buses high and weighs in at around 500 kilos.
The UK’s leading marine charity, Marine Conservation Society will kick start the year with their first Beachwatch clean and litter survey at Cramond Beach (18 Jan).
Headlining the Burns Hame Toun programme as part of the annual Burns an’ a’ that! Festival, Burns on the Beach (24 Jan) will take place at the pier end of Ayr beach and will feature five unique sound and light installations lighting up local coastal assets including Ayr Pier, The Watchful Boat, Ayr beach and the promenade path. Burns on the Beach is part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals and will open Scotland’s Year of Coast and Waters programme in South Ayrshire.
Taking its inspiration from Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, SPECTRA 2020 (13 – 16 Feb) explores Aberdeen’s position as the connecting point to other cultures on Scotland’s North East coast through a series of thought provoking, playful and stunning light art works across a range of locations including Marischal College Quad, Broad Street, Upper Kirkgate, Schoolhill, St Nicholas Kirkyard, The Kirk of St Nicholas, and Aberdeen Art Gallery.
RSPB Scotland will have a range of guided walks on offer providing something for everyone as well as an abundance of fresh air.   From early morning sunrise goose walks at Loch Lomond to leisurely high-tide guided walks at Crook of Baldoon Nature Reserve in Newton Stewart, participants are invited to wrap up warm and explore a range of wonderful natural landscapes and wildlife.
A number of exhibitions celebrating the themes of the year will also span the early part of the year: 70%+ Contemporary Art and The Ocean at Kirkcaldy Galleries features two Fife-based artists Kyra Clegg and Marysia Lachowicz with new work focused on new ways of looking at Scotland’s coast; David Mach: Odyssey at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries (until 2 Feb) showcases the Internationally renowned sculptor’s latest work made out of shipping containers, sea worn wood, two huge shipping buoys and 7 tonnes of newspaper; ICONS II: Bellany at Perth Museum and Art Gallery brings together works from the artist’s long career including The Kiss, The Bellany Family and Fishing Boat Poseidon in Harbour. At the centre of this exhibition is one of the best-known works of Bellany’s career, The Boat Builders, a painting rarely seen in public.  A Pirates Life for Me! at Rozelle House, Ayr is a new exhibition created by the V&A Museum of Childhood which offers a jaunt through the world of both real life and fictional pirates, playfully presented and including both interactive and work created by children.
Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said:
“Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 will promote a range of opportunities to experience and enjoy our unrivalled seas and shores, whilst encouraging responsible engagement and inclusive participation from both locals and visitors.” 
 “Beginning 1st January, there are lots of different opportunities to get involved with this celebratory year. From action and adventure, to cultural and heritage events there is something for all and I encourage everyone to get involved.” 
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said:
“Alongside our wealth of wonderful attractions, scenery and wildlife, in 2020 Scotland will host an exciting array of both existing and brand new events set to put our coasts and waters in the spotlight.” 
“These celebrations will help to showcase our people, our places and indeed the country across the globe, and will further reinforce Scotland as the perfect stage for events.” 
Vision Mechanics Artistic Director Symon Macintyre said:
“This project has been over two years in the making and now Storm’s first outing is just around the corner. On the 18th January everyone will finally meet her. 2020 is a whole year dedicated to Scotland’s coasts and waters.” 
“We believe that Storm, our 10-metre goddess of the sea, will be a huge spectacle to spark the debate amongst children and adults about our responsibility to care for our seas and the environment.”
 Early events across January and February join a programme of activity set to take place across the full year. 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 forthcoming celebratory Themed Year will shine a spotlight on a wide-ranging and far-reaching programme of events and festivals throughout 2020.
 For more information on the year www.visitscotland.com/ycw2020
Join the conversation #YCW2020