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John Muir Festival 2014

The John Muir Festival 2014 is to open with a spectacular night-time arts event – on the theme of Scotland as Home – which also marks the international launch of the nation’s new cultural landmark, The Kelpies.

The celebration marks the start of a series of exciting John Muir Festival events over nine days and is a signature event in the Year of Homecoming programme.

This begins with the two evenings, 17 and 18 April, of one-off, specially-commissioned night-time artworks illuminating Helix Park in Falkirk, as thousands gather round the iconic Kelpies for an extraordinary animation of the sculptures to a pulsating soundtrack.

Artist Andy Scott’s colossal 300-tonne, 30-metre high horses heads’ sculptures will be ‘brought to life’ with a breath-taking light, sound and flame performance by Groupe F, the internationally renowned pyrotechnic company which famously lit up the Eiffel Tower at the Millennium.

After this stunning opening event, First Minister Alex Salmond will officially open the new national pathway, the John Muir Way, in Dunbar on 21 April. There will be daily events at ten hotspots along the 134-mile route, before the Festival reaches Helensburgh on the same Clyde coast 11-year-old Muir and his family sailed en route to a new life in America. Appropriately – for the founding father of the US National Parks – a street ceilidh and firework Festival finale is planned at Scotland’s national park at Loch Lomond in the evening of 26 April.

The John Muir Festival 2014 celebrates the life and legacy of pioneering conservationist John Muir, and marks the opening of a new national pathway, the John Muir Way, named in his honour.

A host of events are planned daily along the route: ramblers, runners and cyclists will be invited to carry Muir-themed flags along sections, while a gang of bearded John Muir lookalikes will provide fun photo opportunities as well as thought-provoking quotes from Muir’s writings. A camera obscura will offer a new perspective on the surrounding landscape. There will be seed bombing with Scottish wild flowers. A stylised tree will be raised at the launch and the finale in tribute to Muir’s enduring love of giant sequoias. And in a quieter, more reflective tribute, an American and a Scots poet will walk the length of the John Muir Way at their own unhurried pace, planting native seeds and writing poetry along the way.

Tickets for the Falkirk and Loch Lomond events, as well as the full Festival programme including details of over 70 associated Festival events, are available online at the John Muir Festival website.

John Muir was born in Dunbar in 1838, before emigrating to the United States in 1849. He helped save the Yosemite Valley in California, was a co-founder of The Sierra Club – one of the most influential grassroots environmental organisations in the USA – and successfully campaigned for national parks in America.

The John Muir Festival is funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, Homecoming Scotland and Creative Scotland. Home is also supported by Big Lottery Fund, Falkirk Council, Scottish Canals and Falkirk Community Trust.