This weekend in NYC!
What is Tartan Week?
It started with one day.
April 6 is National Tartan Day, which was memorialized in 1998 by the U.S. Senate to recognize the contributions of Scottish-Americans. The next year, a small group of Scottish-Americans gathered with two pipe bands and marched from the British consulate to the United Nations building. The procession has grown substantially in its 21 years to include hundreds of pipes and thousands of spectators.
It wasn’t until 2002 that the National Tartan Day New York Committee was formed to organize Tartan-themed events. There were so many that they decided to celebrate it all during “Tartan Week.”
“Tartan” is actually the plaid fabric that Scottish clansmen would wear on their kilts. Clans today still have official tartans attributed to their names, too.
“There remains an intrinsic link between the American and the Scottish people, especially in New York,” McCuish said. “There is a huge and enthusiastic Scottish diaspora in America, but the ties go deeper than that; there is a sense of aligned culture and purpose. Scotland is one of the most inclusive and welcoming countries in the world — we don’t shy away from strangers, we talk to them, we dance with them, and we engage with them. New York is the perfect location for this ethos to flourish.”
So, when is it?
It all kicks off on April 1 and wraps up on April 8.
When and where is the parade?
On Saturday, April 6, pipers and drummers will step off at 2 p.m. on Sixth Avenue at West 45th Street and march to 55th Street.
Who will we see in the parade?
Sir Billy Connolly, the stand-up comedian, musician and actor who the Scotts nicknamed the “Big Yin,” is leading the parade as grand marshal, followed by solo pipers, full pipe bands, drummers, highland dancers, Scottish clans in kilts and excitingly, Scottish dogs. (The dogs will be judged in a competition by Connolly’s wife, Dr. Pamela Stephenson, who is an acclaimed psychologist.)
“I’m thrilled to be this year’s grand marshal of the New York City Tartan Day Parade,” Connolly said in a statement on nyctartanweek.org. “I can’t wait to hear all those bagpipes echoing off the skyscrapers and to see Sixth Avenue awash with thousands of swaying kilts. It’s going to be brilliant.”
Past grand marshals have included actor Sean Connery (2002), actor Alan Cumming (2009), KT Tunstall (2018) and many others.
It’s coming in a couple days and I’m getting excited. Last year, we were in Baltimore (where the above photo was taken).
I’ve got my banana shirts ready, my yellow cowboy hat, my yellow bandana and my handlebar mustache (don’t ask!).
I got the menu and I’m so ready…
This is the first of four trips between now and mid-September: Nashville, New York, Inverness (Scotland) and NYC cruise to Bermuda. That first New York was supposed to happen right at the end of the Nashville trip and I’m glad it got backed up a couple weeks so there’s time to unpack.
More on this one when we get back.