St Andrew’s Day

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 28th November 2019.

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Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

Congratulations must go to Tom Arthur for securing the debate and to his intern, Kyle, for his research and contribution. It is great to see that St Andrew’s day—30 November—marks the start of the winter festivals programme in Scotland, and the links that have been created with the fair Saturday movement.

I will focus on two issues: the purpose of fair Saturday and St Andrew’s fair Saturday; and the Big Burns Supper festival in Dumfries. In preparing for today’s debate, after reading Mr Arthur’s motion, I followed up on the information that it provides on the fair Saturday movement. Fair Saturday is a positive initiative that is independent, apolitical and respectful of human rights, and aims to create a global cultural movement that will have a positive impact on society. It provides an opportunity for artists, cultural organisations and communities to come together in a unique festival and support social causes.

South Ayrshire Council, in my South Scotland region, has a St Andrew’s fair Saturday event at the Citadel leisure centre, where the fun swimming pool will be opened, and community engagement events are being organised across South Ayrshire to tackle isolation and loneliness. I am encouraging Dumfries and Galloway Council to promote the St Andrew’s fair Saturday events next year, having written to it to raise awareness of the Scottish Government’s St Andrew’s fair Saturday initiative. I am aware that other local activities are planned by the Dumfries & Galloway Multicultural Association and the Massive Outpouring of Love charity. I wish them both well this Saturday.

I will also briefly mention the lamb for St Andrew’s day campaign, promoted by Quality Meat Scotland. I encourage everybody to eat lamb on Saturday, because it is good fir ye. Quality Meat Scotland should be commended for that campaign.

Mr Arthur’s motion describes the events and festivals in his constituency, and I am intrigued by the awfy Scottish winter wonderland. I am sure that Tom Arthur will be able to regale me with more detail later.

The Big Burns Supper festival in Dumfries is held in January as part of the celebrations of 25 January, the birth date of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns. The Big Burns Supper winter festival is now known as Scotland’s biggest Burns night party and the warmest winter festival set in the historic, vibrant south of Scotland capital. Held every year, the family-friendly event is now in its ninth year, and it will welcome 150 shows with 300 artists over 11 performance days. The various venues include bars, cafes, art galleries, museums and the oldest working theatre in Scotland, which was refurbished last year with Scottish Government support, the Theatre Royal.

The Famous Spiegeltent is another wonderful place. It has become the host venue for many live acts, and it is where the international burlesque cabaret show “Le Haggis” will be performed.

Ellisland farm, located just outside Dumfries, is the farm where Robert Burns lived before moving to Dumfries. It is the farm where he wrote his most famous poem, “Tam o’ Shanter”. I am glad to say that the farm has now joined the Big Burns Supper as a host venue site.

The funding for the fair Saturday programme has come from the Scottish Government through EventScotland and the Holywood Trust. The Big Burns Supper festival gets support from Carlisle City Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council. I thank all the supporters for enabling the festival to be held. Next year is its 10th year, and that will be an exciting event to attend. Perhaps the minister could come and join me at “Le Haggis” next year.

I again welcome the debate, I thank Tom Arthur and Kyle, and I encourage everyone to take part in St Andrew’s fair Saturday.