While so many aspects of Scottish heritage have influenced North American culture that it’s easy to take them for granted, it’s always a grand occasion to celebrate them during Tartan Week, which will be unfolding from April 6-11. The expanding slate of events, featuring daily concerts, parties, and of course capped off by the 17th Annual Tartan Day Parade down Sixth Avenue on Saturday, April 11th, was announced at St. Andrews restaurant, at 140 West 46th Street – a site of a number of the events in store.
Among assembled guests enjoying characteristic Scottish hospitality – which included unique specialty cocktails created by Tartan Week sponsor Belhaven Brewery – Alan Bain, Chairman of the American-Scottish Foundation noted that “this year has been the turning point” for the parade, and that instrumental in that has been the sponsorship of the acclaimed Starz series “Outlander”, which has raised $1,500 for this years festivities. Guests were treated to a rousing performance by The Highland Divas, a trio of women (two from Scotland and one from New Zealand) with awesome voices, who sang a moving version of “One More Day” before announcing that they would be performing ‘The Homecoming’ on April 8th at the Metropolitan Room, at 34 West 22th Street, as part of the events this week; information can be found at their web site www.highlanddivas.com, and tickets can be booked via the venue website www.metropolitanroom.com, or by phone at 212-206-0440.
As noted, there will be music throughout the week, with a series of lunchtime concerts, from 12:30-1:30 pm, staged at the Bryant Park Fountain Terrace, at 40th Street and Sixth Avenue. On Monday, April 6th there will be readings from the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 (which influenced the American Declaration of Independence), which asserted Scotland’s sovereignty, coupled with performances by piper Patrick Duffy and the Highland Divas. On Tuesday, Scottish Octopus – a World/Folk/Funk outfit – will be paired with Hannah Read and John Gribben, songwriters who update traditional Scottish music; Hannah Read will return on Wednesday with special guests. On Thursday, April 9th the Lanark & District Pipe band will be in direct from Scotland, along with Champion Bagpiper Craig Weir and the Mike Ogletree Anacoustic Band, which blends reggae and rock; on Friday Scottish Octopus returns, paired with fiddler Jena Moynihan & Friends, who mix Highlands and Appalachian influences. Also on Friday, from 6-7 pm there will be ‘Pipes & Drums at Sunset’, and on Saturday before the parade, from 11:30 am -1:00 pm, there will be performances by the Lanark & District Pipe Band, the Pipes and Drums of the Atlantic Watch, the Bonnie Brae Knights, and the Shamrock & Thistle Pipes & Drums of Ocean County.
You could hardly consider all things Scottish without considering fine spirits, so – in addition to serving specialty cocktails all week at St. Andrews and at Deacon Brodies, 370 West 46 Street – Belhaven Brewery will be hosting events all week. Their busy slate includes the following evening events, all from 6:00 – 9:00 pm: a ‘tap takeover’ on Tuesday at Caledonia, 1609 Second Avenue; ‘Celebrate Scotland’ at Mugs Ale House, 125 Bedford Avenue on Wednesday, Brooklyn; a pipe band performance along with 4 Belhaven beers on tap on Wednesday at Barleycorn, 23 Park Place; a pipe band and 5 Belhaven beers on tap at St. Andrews on Thursday. Friday will feature a tap takeover from 6:00 pm onwards on the roof of the Beer Authority, 300 West 40th Street, and from 7:00 pm onwards the New York Caledonian Club Pre-Parade Ceilidh at Abigail Adams Auditorium. On the day of the parade their will be an event prior to it at St. Andrews from 11:00am to 2:00pm – when the parade will begin, marching from 44th to 55th streets up Sixth Avenue.
Over eight Universities will be marching in the parade this year, along with some high schools, such as the Oban High School Pipes & Drums, and Lannoch High School (who will be playing at several events). The Highland Divas will be singing again, prior to the parade on the festival bus that will host VIPs during the march. The Grand Marshal for 2015 is Graham McTavish of “Outlander”, and the Honorary Grand Marshal will be the Rt. Hon. Tricia Marwick MSP, the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. And you couldn’t have a Tartan Day Parade without the customary West Highland White and Scottish Terriers who will be marching proudly up the Avenue.
As usual, once the parade is over there will be an after-party at Stout NYC, at 133 West 33rd Street, from 4:00-7:00 pm. Along with music by Barleyjuice and special guests, there will be drink and food aplenty; tickets are from $45, and can be secured by phone at 212-980-0844 or online at www.NYCTartanWeek.org. Other information about Tartan Week and other Scottish events can be found at the website www.americanscottishfoundation.org, or by phoning 212-605-0338.
What to do on Sunday? Well, I suppose you could watch the final round of The Masters golf tournament on television, and reflect upon the origins of the game.