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.
BY KATRINA TWEEDIE
THOUSANDS of Scots and their descendants take to the streets of Manhattan every year for the annual Tartan Day Parade celebrating the historic links between both nations.
New York’s Tartan Day Parade
AS surreal moments go, nothing will ever compare to standing in the middle of 6th Avenue as thousands of Saltire-waving people lined the pavements and a phalanx of thundering pipers marched towards me.
If you are a Scot in America in April, there is really only one place to be – New York for Tartan Week.
What started 18 years ago as a small group of expat Scots marching down the pavement has grown into an annual parade along the Avenue of the Americas for 10 colourful blocks, accompanied by the skirl of the bagpipes, a swishing of kilts and proud display of Caledonian heritage.
Americans with even the tiniest drop of Scots blood, no matter how many generations removed, feel compelled to don some plaid and revel in this great US tradition of marching bands.
If you are lucky enough to be a Scot in New York during Tartan Week, like I was last year (And we will be THIS year!), then I urge you to proceed to the centre of Manhattan.