Skip to main content
Visit Scotland | Alba


  • Director of Events’ report
  • Events directorate forecast 2019/20
  • EventScotland Forecast 2019/20
  • EventScotland’s core funding programmes
  • Scotland pedals its way to a mega new event
  • Scottish Clans & Historical Figures Event Fund
  • Scotland’s Winter Festivals
  • European Athletics Indoor Championships flash report 2019
  • Scotland’s summer of women’s sport
  • Edinburgh International Festival brings Hollywood to Hearts stadium
  • The Solheim Cup shines in Scotland
  • Golf events drive Scotland forward
  • Year of Young People 2018
  • Year of Coasts and Waters 2020
  • 2019 National Events Conference
  • VisitScotland Growth Fund
  • Development workshops and local engagement
  • Economic impact research
  • VisitScotland Expo’s record-breaking 40th edition
  • Scottish Thistle Awards celebrates tourism and events industry
  • TEDSummit 2019: A community beyond borders
  • It’s been legendary
  • Global influencer outreach
  • Scotland’s stellar line-up of future events

Director of Events’ report

It had been another stellar year of events and festivals across Scotland. From the best-ever Solheim Cup to bringing the global TED community to the country’s capital in TEDSummit, across the board the Scottish events industry has continued to deliver outstanding results both socially and economically for the country.

The last 12 months has seen the start of new events like the Women’s Tour of Scotland to the reshaping of others including the Edinburgh International Festival Opening Event. It has also been a year where Scotland has reinforced its reputation as a global leader in event delivery through the securing of the inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships, a brand-new mega event to take place in 2023.

Over the coming pages we will see what a truly memorable year it has been for us and the wider events and festivals sector while also looking ahead to some of the exciting events we have in store in the years to come. I hope you enjoy our spotlight on Scotland the Perfect Stage.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events


Events Directorate Forecast 2019/20

(figure excludes the 2019 Solheim Cup)


  • 2,844 full time equivalent jobs (FTE jobs)
  • £95.3m gross value added (GVA)
  • £238.1m net economic income (NEI)
  • £305.4m gross economic activity (GEA)


EventScotland Forecast 2019/20

(figures excludes the 2019 Solheim Cup)


Statistics are cumulative and represent EventScotland’s core funded programmes – international, national and beacon.

  • 2.09m total audience – which includes participants, performers, staff, volunteers and spectators.
  • 24% culture/76% sport
  • 26% outside Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • 7 New international events
  • 82% outside summer
  • 75% LA’s supported
  • 15.9m partner support
  • £4.05m invested in 69 events to date

Core Funding Programmes

2019 saw 69 sporting and cultural events funded through EventScotland’s core event programmes; International, National and Beacon Events Programmes. Events funded through these programmes connect and contribute to the National Events Strategy by promoting Scotland’s rich assets and delivering economic, media, social and cultural benefits.

International Events Programme

Throughout the year, EventScotland secured, sustained and invested in a wide-range of major event through its International Events Programme, helping to further enhance Scotland’s enviable reputation on the world stage.  EventScotland invested in 32 events through this programme including Skyline Scotland (Lochaber), Edinburgh International Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival, OVO Energy Tour Series (Motherwell and Aberdeen), Royal National Mòd (Glasgow), IFSC European Championships Lead and Speed (Edinburgh) and the Guinness PRO14 Final at Celtic Park (Glasgow), which set a new record attendance of 47,128. This was the first time this showpiece event has been staged outside a traditional rugby venue.

National Events Programme

From book festivals and surfing competitions in the north to trail runs and oyster festivals in the south, EventScotland supported the development and growth of 26 events (outwith Edinburgh and Glasgow) across 16 local authorities, through this programme. Among them were several first-time recipients including Tweed Valley Tunnel Trail Run (Renfrewshire), Ultra Tour of Arran (North Ayrshire), The Gathering (Highlands), and the Stranraer SkiffieWorlds (Dumfries and Galloway). A major coastal rowing competition, the SkiffieWorlds saw 2,710 participants, crew and support teams take part and 27,000 spectators in attendance, generating a strong economic impact for the region as we as showing Loch Ryan as the perfect stage for water sports.

Beacon Events Programme

The Beacon Events Programme continued to complement the national and international programmes by investing in uniquely Scottish events taking place outside Glasgow and Edinburg, which generate regional tourism benefits, and act as examples of best practice. This year saw the programme support nine events across six local authorities, including HebCelt (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar), Scottish Series (Argyll and Bute), Orkney International Science Festival (Orkney Islands) and StAnza (Fife). HebCelt, which received funding for digital marketing to grow its reach, was named one of the best ever by audiences, attracting an estimated 8,000 festival goers.


Scotland pedals its way to a mega new event

2023 is set to be the year of cycling as Glasgow and Scotland gear up to host the inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships.

Awarded in February 2019 in recognition for the country’s proven expertise in delivering world-class and ground-breaking events, this historic and innovative event will see 13 existing individual World Champions cycling disciplines brought together into one mega event for the first time. The Championships will see thousands of the world’s best cyclists all vying to win the iconic rainbow jersey, in what will become the world’s biggest cycling event, broadcast to a global audience.

The opportunity to be the first-ever hosts of the Championships, which will be held every four years, will also provide a visible focus to support the acceleration of a range of local and national policy initiatives across the areas of health, transport, sport and tourism, and which would see Scotland aspire to become one of the Europe’s top cycling nations.

The decision to award the first edition of the event to Glasgow and Scotland came ahead of a packed calendar of major cycling events in Scotland in 2019, which has included the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup  in Fort William, the OVO Energy Tour Series and Tour of Britain, the inaugural Women’s Tour of Scotland and the UCI Track Cycling World Cup.

I am delighted that the UCI has awarded the 2023 Cycling World Championships to Glasgow and Scotland. The creation and the implementation of this event was one of the commitments I had made during my campaign for UCI presidency and I am proud to have fulfilled it. I wish to thank EventScotland, Glasgow Life, UK Sport and British Cycling for their enthusiastic involvement in the very first edition of this historic event, which will uniquely showcase out sport and its different disciplines on an international stage. Glasgow and Scotland has a great deal of experience in the organisation of major sporting events, notably multi-sports, such as the first edition of the European Sports Championships will be a great success, and I look forward enormously to preparing them with our Scottish partners

David Lappartient, UCI President

Scottish Clans and Historical Figures Event Fund

£52,021 awarded to 14 events across 9 local authorities.

Since its inception in 2014, the fund has awarded £230,146 to 67 clan related events, enabling them to create authentic experiences for tens of thousands of attendees.

The fund’s support helps facilitate active participation and engagement with Scottish history, heritage and culture from overseas visitors and local communities alike. In 2019, the fund supported 14 events and for the first time invited joint applications from multiple clan societies, enabling them to access a higher level of support.

Building on its success, in summer 2019 the fund was confirmed for another round by Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop under its new name, the Scottish Clans & Historical Figures Event Fund. Going forward, the fund will also provide support to events promoting internationally recognised historical figures who have helped shape Scotland’s rich history.


Scotland's Winter Festivals

£320,500 awarded to 20 events across 17 local authorities.

Scotland’s Winter Festivals welcome hundreds of thousands of people from far and wide, who come to Scotland to celebrate St Andrew’s Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night, significantly boosting the economy and engaging with our diverse communities. The festivals showcase our unique, world-class tourism assets and further reinforce Scotland as the perfect stage for events.

The programme of 18/19 supported a fantastic range of events. St Andrew’s Day kick-started the festive season with a number of events including; SEALL Festival of Small Halls bringing big music to small halls around Skye and Lochalsh, as well as Oban’s Winter Festival and Glasgow’s Torchlight Procession. Traditions, family fun and midnight moments were the focus for a range of supported Hogmanay events including Hogmanay in the Honest Toun, Stonehaven’s Fireball Ceremony and celebrations across Aberdeen, Stromness, Stirling, Shetland and Edinburgh.

Burns Night saw a range of both new and existing events celebrate Scotland’s national poet across a range of locations including South and East Ayrshire, Perth, Edinburgh and Dumfries.


European Athletics Indoor Championships Flash Report 2019

The 35th European Athletics Indoor Championships was held on 1-3 March at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow. Audiences in attendance and at home were treated to three days of thrilling actions from some of the world’s best athletes, resulting in Laura Muir winning a double-double and a record-breaking GB medal haul. EventScotland and partners secured the right to stage the prestigious event which has generated significant profile and benefits for Scotland.

The flash report highlights some of these successful outcomes.

  • 63m hours viewed on TV
  • 2.5m Twitter impressions
  • 427,684 Facebook reach
  • £2.2m economic impact to Scotland
  • £4m economic impact to Glasgow
  • 17, 887 tickets sold
  • 20,698 total attendance
  • All evening sessions sold out
  • 622 athletes
  • 12 GB medals, record haul 4 gold, 6 silver and 2 bronze
  • 4 Scottish athletes won 5 medals
  • 468 volunteers
  • 49 countries
  • 30 Scottish officials


Scotland’s summer of women’s sport

It has been an unprecedented year for major women’s international sports events and nowhere more so than in Scotland. Over three months, the country played host to six European and international sporting events kicking off with the UEFA Women’s U19 European Championships in July and culminating in the biggest event in women’s golf, The 2019 Solheim Cup in September.

The country also hosted the Women’s EuroHockey Championship II, the inaugural Women’s Tour of Scotland, The Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup T20 Global Qualifier during the summer months. The events took place across the country, giving everyone the chance to be part of the momentum shift behind women’s sport.

There were stunning victories. France claimed its fifth title in the UEFA Women’s U19 European Championship, beating Germany in the final, while in the hockey, glory went to Scotland in their 2-1 victory over Italy. The win saw them promoted back to the top level of European Hockey. Meanwhile, Korea’s Mi Jung Hur captured her third LPGA Tour career title when she claimed victory in the 2019 Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open. Following three days of intense racing, American Leah Thomas from Team Bigla won the first-ever Women’s Tour of Scotland. In the cricket, Bangladesh beat Thailand in the final with both teams claiming the final two places at next year’s World Cup in Australia. The women’s summers of sport then come to a spectacular finish when Team Europe claimed their dramatic victory over Team USA at The 2019 Solheim Cup.

In addition to hosting these six fantastic events, VisitScotland and EventScotland also gathered players from each event for a media day to celebrate this special summer and showcase Scotland as leading the way in the development and promotion of world-class women’s sporting events. This was followed up with social media activity and video content to promote each event under the hashstag #sportingsisters.


Edinburgh International Festival brings Hollywood to Hearts stadium

One of the world’s most famous orchestras, the LA Philharmonic, opened this year’s Edinburgh International Festival at Tynecastle stadium. The illustrious conductor, Gustavo Dudamel and orchestra wowed the 15,000 – capacity crowd with music from Hollywood’s Golden Age and John Williams. Classic themes from Jaws, Star Wars and E.T. were played with gusto creating an electrifying experience for all, at this free-to-attend event. For those who could not attend in person, the performance was streamed by the International Festival and media partner Classic FM on their respective Facebook pages, alongside Gustavo Dudamel’s YouTube channel, generating over 100,000 live views in total.

Supporting inclusive and accessible events is an important part of EventScotland’s diverse events portfolio. The earlier start time, family-friendly programme and unique-setting helped draw in community groups, younger audiences and families. The Edinburgh International Festival reported that an estimated 70% of the audience were first-timers at a classical music concert. Their Learning and Engagement team worked with primary schools and young people in Gorgie and Dalry, and created a community event, Heart of Hollywood with Tynecastle High International Festival Ambassadors.

The Festival’s community projects and partnerships were at the heart of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event. We worked with primary schools and young people on various projects that not only showcased their individual talents but also helped develop their creative and employability skills. I hope the impact of the International Festival’s engagement work will be felt in the local community for years to come.

Caroline Donald, Head of Learning and Engagement, Edinburgh International Festival

The Solheim Cup Shines in Scotland

The 2019 Solheim Cup became the highest attended women’s golf event ever held in the UK with record-breaking crowds of more than 90,000 turning out to watch.

Scotland and Gleneagles provided the ultimate platform for the biggest event in women’s golf, delivering on the country’s pledge to take The Solheim Cup to new levels and to showcase women’s sport to new audiences.

Hailed as the best-ever hosting of the event, The 2019 Solheim Cup also set a benchmark for staging a family-friendly and accessible golf event with more than 5,000 junior admissions and nearly 14,000 spectators taking part in golf zone activities.

Before the first tee shot was hit, more than 6,000 spectators made their way to Gleneagles for the live televised Opening Ceremony headlined by Scottish rock band Texas as part of a full-day of live entertainment in the spectator village. The first tee grandstand, with a capacity of almost 2,000, also provided a thrilling atmosphere over the three days of competition with spectators filling every available seat and lining the first hole for the opening tee shots.

There was an innovative accessibility programme created in partnership with Euan’s Guide, a disabled access review website and industry leader in disabled access consultation, fulfilling the event’s promise of equality, experience and innovation through everything from transport planning to on-course infrastructure and delivery. Highlights of this world-leading accessibility programme included: fully trained Access Buddies to help people with access needs; free mobility scooter hire; fully accessible on-course viewing areas; an autism friendly quiet zone; a specially-designed accessible course map and multiple disabled toilet facilities including two Changing Places facilities.

A number of healthy lifestyle initiatives were promoted through the Golf Zone and on-course while the Solheim Cup Golf Development Programme also supported a host of innovative activities to encourage more women and young people into golf alongside partners including Scottish Golf and The PGA.

With more than 3,000 hours of broadcast coverage in 200 territories around the world, the thrilling event, which was won by in dramatic fashion by Team Europe captained by Scot Catriona Matthew, shone a spotlight on Perth & Kinross and Scotland as a world-class and accessible tourism destination at the cutting edge of women’s sport with iconic images beamed around the world.

A number of added-value events also took place at Gleneagles in support of The 2019 Solheim Cup including Scotland’s National Events Conference and the Aberdeen Standard Investments Diversity Summit. The latter, now in its fifth year, featured the likes of Judy Murray, Martina Navratilova, Eddie Izzard and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon highlighting issues of equality and diversity during the biggest event in women’s golf.

  • 3,000 hours of broadcast coverage
  • 90,000+ spectators
  • 1,044 voluntneers
  • 10.4m global audience
  • $34m TV sponsorship value
  • 85,719 social media posts
  • 7.7m social media video views
  • 15,681 online press articles
  • 1.6m digital streaming audience
  • 4+hours digitial average viewing time

Scotland’s global reputation at staging world-class golf events, was once again strengthened by the delivery of The 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles. They created the perfect stage for the best players from Europe and America to showcase the strength of women’s golf.

Alexandra Armas, Board Advisor & Acting CEO, Ladies European Tour

Golf Events drive Scotland forward

Alongside the hugely successful 2019 Solheim Cup, Scotland’s annual golf portfolio continued to go from strength to strength with both the Aberdeen Standard Investments men’s and ladies Scottish Opens among the top events on their respective tours.

Held at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian, both events showcased Scotland as a visually stunning golf tourism destination with equality and accessibility at its heart.

The men’s event delivered the strongest field of the year for any European Tour event, the highest attendance in almost a decade and remains the only European Tour event to be screened live on the NBC Sports network in the US.

The Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open proved to be equally popular with significant international media coverage and exposure as the final qualifying event for Team Europe ahead of The 2019 Solheim Cup.


Year of Young People 2018

EventScotland worked in collaboration with the events and festivals sector in 2018 to develop a year-long, public- facing celebratory programme supporting new cultural and sporting events along with enhancements to existing events.

The packed nationwide programme included a young writers festival, a major festival of theatre from National Theatre of Scotland, a science takeover at Helix Park,  home of the magnificent Kelpies, a three-day celebration inspired by the opening of Moat Brae in Dumfries and Scotland’s first-ever Youth Urban Games.

As 'co-design' was central to the design and development of all activity, a key outcome of the year was the opportunity to share the impact our incredible young people made during Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018.

EventScotland worked in collaboration with YOYP2018 supported events throughout 2019 to produce a set of free to use materials, now published at, which provide learnings and reflections for those engaging young people in event design and delivery.

  • 342 YOYP2018 funded and partner events
  • Events programme co-designed by 4,400+ young people
  • Over 756,000 people attended


Year of Coasts and Waters 2020

From water inspired myths and legends to historic harbours, sweeping coastlines to the very best in seafood, whisky, wildlife and wellness – Scotland’s enviable reputation for unspoiled beaches, rich natural and cultural heritage and thrill-seeking adventure activities will be showcased through a year-long programme of events and activities in 2020.

In April 2019, a taste of the events lined up to put Scotland’s coasts and waters in the spotlight in 2020 was announced. These included news of an expanded Clydebuilt Festival in Glasgow, a spectacular new event at Scotland’s Boat Show at Kip Marina entitled ‘River of Light’, Ferry Tales – a celebration of Scotland’s waters and the journeys over them from the National Theatre of Scotland, The Fife Regatta, RSPB Scotland’s DolphinFest 2020 in Aberdeen and Edinburgh International Film Festival’s ‘Film Fest on the Forth’.

On 13 November 2019, Cabinet Secretary, Fiona Hyslop marked ‘50 days to go’ until the year begins and unveiled a further 30 events set to make a huge splash in celebration of the year. These include canal carnivals, coastal inspired opera and art, seaweed festivals, science events, as well as thrill-seeking endurance activities and coastal rowing voyages.

A range of events across the country have also joined the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 partner programme including Fire and Light at The Helix, the Scottish Islands Peak Race, the Lochboisdale St. Ayles Skiff Regatta and the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running. Events taking place in 2020 have the opportunity to be part of the programme by registering at

In addition to a range of exciting events, the year will showcase a wealth of unique and authentic on and off water experiences, as well as reinforce responsible and safe engagement with Scotland’s waters through a co-ordinated nationwide marketing and PR campaign.

Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters will run from 1 January until 31 December 2020.

Go to:

Join the conversation #YCW2020.


2019 National Events Conference

  • 200+ delegates
  • 24 speakers
  • 4 keynote plenary sessions
  • 7 breakout sessions
  • 3 networking sessions
  • 92% of attendees either 'Satified' or 'Very Satisfied' with the conference overall
  • 97% of attendees would consider attending in the future

Under the title, ‘Embracing Innovation, Delivering Change’, the 2019 National Events Conference lived up to its billing as the flagship industry conference for the events and festivals sector in Scotland. Taking place at Gleneagles Hotel on 9 September, alongside The 2019 Solheim Cup, the conference provided delegates with a world-class line-up of speakers and the opportunity to share experiences and network with colleagues.

Hosted by sports presenter, Emma Dodds, the day included plenary and breakout sessions plus a Welcome Address from Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP and Opening Remarks from VisitScotland’s Director of Events, Paul Bush OBE.

The opening plenary Policy Innovation & Social Impacts for Major Events was delivered by legacy advisor to the International Olympic Committee, Bruce Dewar. This was followed by Dr Beatriz Garcia’s insightful plenary on Legacy from Major Cultural Events, reflecting on Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture ten years on. British Cycling Policy Manager, Nick Chamberlin, focused on Scotland’s opportunity to make a fundamental lifestyle change linked to hosting the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.

Helen Marriage MBE, Creative Director of Artichoke delivered the final plenary Imagination Sets Us Free which addressed collective imagination and the cultural benefits of transforming public spaces through the power of events.

A wide range of topics were considered during the breakout sessions, including: Events & Sustainability, Visitor & Audience Trends, Broadcast Innovation, Data Driven Innovation, an Emergency Services Update and a Solheim Cup site tour.

The day was rounded off fittingly by a closing interview session with the Solheim Cup captains, Catriona Matthew MBE (Europe) and Julie Inkster (USA).

To watch the plenary sessions go to:


VisitScotland Growth Fund

11 successful applicants and a total of £251,475 awarded in grants supporting marketig activity to the vaule of £501,650 across the country.

The VisitScotland Growth Fund continues to support tourism groups across Scotland to deliver collaborative marketing campaigns aimed at inspiring visitors to come to Scotland. In the 2019/20 financial year there were 11 successful applicant groups and a total of £251,475 awarded in grants, which supported marketing activity across the country to the value of £501,650.

In the last year the Growth Fund team has worked with a wide range of groups including: Cairngorms Business Partnership, Discover Fraserburgh, Visit South West Scotland and Moray Speyside Tourism.

Directly aligning with Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, successful applications from West Coast Marine Tourism Collaborative and Sail Scotland were supported at the March 2019 panel.

Go to for further information, including case studies and video testimonials.


Development workshops and local engagement

During 2019 the Events Industry Development team delivered a series of workshops for event organisers on topics including Cyber Security, Drone Use and Police Cost Recovery. The team also worked in partnership with local authorities to deliver a series of local engagement sessions for event organisers in Highland, Dundee and Dumfries & Galloway. These opportunities provided an important chance for industry colleagues to gather, discuss local matters, share event experiences and hear relevant updates from local and national partners.


Economic impact research 

The Events Industry Development team and the Scottish Tourism Alliance have jointly commissioned a major piece of industry research to establish the net economic value of the events and festivals sector in Scotland. Hundreds of event organisers across Scotland have already fed into this benchmark study which is planned to be published early 2020.

In the last year the Growth Fund team has worked with a wide range of groups including: Cairngorms Business Partnership, Discover Fraserburgh, Visit South West Scotland and Moray Speyside Tourism.

Directly aligning with Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, successful applications from West Coast Marine Tourism Collaborative and Sail Scotland were supported at the March 2019 panel.

Go to for further information, including case studies and video testimonials.


VisitScotland Expo's record-breaking 40th edition

VisitScotland Expo celebrated its 40th edition on 10–11 April 2019 at the Scottish Events Campus, Glasgow and was attended by 340 exhibiting companies and more than 550 travel buyers from around the world generating a record-breaking 10,200 pre-made appointments.

The trade show was supplemented by a national familiarisation trip programme, giving buyers the opportunity to visit attractions and accommodation first-hand, and the VisitScotland Expo Dinner which was attended by over 600 delegates at the DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow Central. Flying the flag for the events sector were Edinburgh’s Christmas & Hogmanay, Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running, OBANLIVE, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, World Men’s Curling Championship 2020 and The World Pipe Band Championships.

In addition to delivering Expo on home soil, the Events Industry Development team also helped deliver events internationally including FITUR in Madrid, PGA Merchandise in Orlando, ITB in Berlin, IGTM in Marrakesh and World Travel Market in London.


Scottish Thistle Awards celebrates tourism and events industry

  • 1000 nominations
  • 600+ entries

Now in its 27th year, the prestigious Scottish Thistle Awards National Final took place on 14 March 2019 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and crowned 15 deserving winners, rounding off the 2018/19 awards programme and showcasing the impact that our tourism and events industry has across the country.

The 2019/20 awards programme kicked off with excellent industry engagement receiving over 1,000 nominations and over 600 entries, with the shortlisted businesses competing at the five Regional Finals in November.

Regional winners will progress to the National Final on 5 March 2020, along with finalists in the national-only categories for Best Sporting Event, Best Business Event and new category, Inclusive Tourism, to be announced in December 2019. 

To see the full list of finalists and winners go to:


TEDSummit 2019: A community beyond borders

  • 1000 delegates
  • 84 countries
  • 60 speakers

As Edinburgh prepared for another instalment of the world’s largest arts festival, the world’s most illustrious idea generating and thought-provoking talk series kicked off in Edinburgh. TEDSummit had finally descended on Scotland with 1,000 delegates from 84 countries and over 60 speakers.

In just one day delegates could hear three different theories on economics, listen to how a family in Syria continue daily life surrounded by civil war, dance to KT Tunstall, sit in on an interview with a neuroscientist discussing theories of consciousness, and learn the basics of emotional agility.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, discussed the measurements of success used by countries. She challenged the accepted use of GDP to gauge progress and shared her vision for governments to put people first by prioritising wellbeing over economic growth. The First Minister’s talk was an international viral hit and has been watched over 1.1 million times so far on the TED website. For TED to invite Scotland’s First Minister on stage sent a powerful message, particularly from a group who normally eschew politics – Scotland is different, Scotland is bold, and Scotland is pioneering. TED has delivered that message for Scotland right into the homes and phones of over a million people. For business, for investment, and for tourism, there can be few better adverts for our country. This is the power of TED, this is the power of Business Events.

TED, ideas worth spreading.

Scotland, where #IdeasBecomeLegend.

This international event will be an opportunity to show off Scotland as a home of innovation and of creativity and to build on our reputation as a place to visit, to live and to develop new ideas.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

It's been legendary

October marked the end of the initial phase of the Business Events team’s award-winning campaign, Legends. The campaign has won international acclaim for it’s truly involving, inclusive and innovative approach. Over two years, Legends has highlighted Scotland’s key sectors and promoted their innovative, pioneering and inspiring work to a global association and conference audience. A national, social media led campaign, Legends was a first for our industry, and helped create a unified Scotland message for the first time.

Over 24 months, in partnership with Scotland’s convention bureaus and conference centres, the incredible work of 12 Scottish Sectors were projected across the world.

Over 150 organisations have been involved in the campaign, including innovation centres, universities, research centres, and even start-ups.

To get the Legends story out to our markets, VisitScotland produced 16 talking head videos featuring CEO’s, Sector Leads and researchers from organisations including Wave Energy Scotland, Technology Scotland and the Scottish Government. Over 40 videos were produced for the campaign by partners, each spotlighting cutting edge innovation in Scotland. These videos, and other content shared in the last two years have generated 85 million impressions for the campaign #IdeasBecomeLegend, and our videos have been viewed over 6,000 times.

The Legends campaign has truly reflected the spirit of innovation that is embedded in our DNA and has been an astonishing example of just how the simplest of ideas can be transformative.

Kathleen Warden, Director of Conference Sales, Scottish Event Campus, Glasgow

Away from the online campaign, Legends has inspired new events to start in Scotland. In 2018, Legends contributed to the creation of the Scotland Fintech Festival which completed its second year in September 2019, featuring over 30 events across Scotland over a three-week period. Further inaugural events will launch over the coming months and years.

In June 2019, we launched the Legends Legacy Network, bringing together an initial 15 research and innovation institutions from across Scotland. The Legacy Network is now poised to work with VisitScotland to ensure that when conferences come to Scotland we maximise the benefit beyond the initial spend.

The initial phase of Legends has concluded having changed the Scottish business events narrative forever. Our vast knowledge economy has been promoted and highlighted. The next steps in Scotland’s story will be even more exciting. Scotland is the place where ideas change the world and for business events, Scotland will continue to be the place where #IdeasBecomeLegend.


Global influencer outreach

The evolution of VisitScotland Business Events award-winning campaign, Legends, continued in 2019. The team took the message direct to partners and hosted three internatonal association receptions in Paris, Brussels and Washington D.C. 

More than 100 key contacts and influencers from associations based in each city were welcomed over the three events. Each reception provided an opportunity to talk directly to partners about what Scotland can offer and represented a continuation of a bold new strategy for engaging and connecting with associations around the world.

Guest speakers such as Professor Dame Anne Glover and Dr Pam Anderson enthralled international guests with the telling of Scotland’s innovation and collaboration credentials. Through a combination of presentations and conversations, these events not only enhanced Scotland’s reputation as a leading conference destination but also showcased Scotland as a country with a rich knowledge economy. In addition to Scotland forging a new narrative, these events provided a forum to exchange ideas and forge new partnerships that in time can create real change – this is the true power and possibility of association conferences.

Over the course of 2019, Business Events also exhibited at a series of leading global trade shows including IMEX (Frankfurt and America) and IBTM World in Barcelona where the team continued to position Scotland as a leading events destination for the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions sector.

International engagement was also at the forefront of the wider events directorate with their attendance at SportAccord in the Gold Coast and at the PGA Show in Orlando. SportAccord is an annual gathering of influential leaders from more than 100 international sports federations and event owners. It plays a key role in helping position Scotland as ‘the Perfect Stage for Events’ and facilitating discussions between EventScotland and federations in relation to bidding for and securing major international events for Scotland. While the PGA Show, golf industry’s leading annual event, provides an important platform to promote Scottish golf businesses and Scotland as ‘The Home of Golf’.


Scotland's stellar line-up of future events

  • Year of Coasts and Waters 2020
  • World Men’s Curling Championship 2020, Glasgow
  • Celtic Connections 2020, Glasgow 
  • Müller Indoor Grand Prix and SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships 2020, Glasgow 

  • UEFA EURO 2020, Glasgow
  • Edinburgh's Festivals 2020 and beyond
  • AIG Women’s British Open 2020, Royal Troon
  • Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and Ladies Scottish Open 2020, Renaissance Club, East Lothian
  • World Pipe Band Championships 2020, Glasgow
  • The 150th Open, 2021, St Andrews
  • Orkney Island Games 2023
  • 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, Glasgow and across Scotland