Winter Festivals programme unveiled

Edinburgh's Hogmanay fireworks Edinburgh's Hogmanay generated an estimated £29m last year

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More than 60 events are to be staged as part of Scotland's Winter Festivals Programme, it has been revealed.

The festivals season begins on St Andrew's Day (30 November) and includes the Hogmanay celebrations and Burns night on 25 January.

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop said there would be a focus on promoting Scotland's top produce, with 2010 being Scotland's Year of Food and Drink.

Events will be held around the country, involving 65 visitor attractions.

Ms Hyslop said: "The Scotland's Winter Festivals programme shows that Scotland is a great visitor destination and the perfect stage for events all year round.

"With Edinburgh's Hogmanay generating an estimated £29m last year, we know that festive celebrations can make a significant contribution to Scottish tourism and our economy.

"That is why our Winter Festivals are so valuable - they will help entice people from home and abroad to explore all areas of Scotland."

The celebrations will span the globe year, with a St Andrew's Day Ball in Doha, in the Gulf, and a Kirkin' of the Tartans in Hawaii also being staged.

'Exciting initiative'

Paul Bush, chief operating officer of EventScotland, said: "Scotland has an unrivalled reputation in hosting major world class events and is internationally renowned for its Hogmanay celebrations.

"Scotland's Winter Festivals is an exciting initiative."

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland said: "Tourism is crucial to Scotland's economic recovery and our fantastic calendar of events is central to that.

"Scotland's Winter Festivals programme is a great example of the close and important connection between our cultural heritage and tourism and events industries."

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