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Visit Scotland | Alba

Scotland's Themed Years

Our Themed Years celebrate the very best of Scotland and its people.

You’ll find a packed programme of events and activity taking place throughout each celebratory year, as well as lots of opportunities to get involved whether you're a visitor, a business or an organisation.

Themed Years aren't planned to take place every year - this allows all the many partners time to review and plan, so there won't be a Themed Year in 2023. The next Themed Year will be announced in due course.

The Themed Years model

Themed Years started with Homecoming Scotland 2009 which was a unique concept at the time representing one of the largest collaborative tourism and events initiatives that Scotland had ever staged.

Homecoming Scotland generated huge additional revenue and positive media coverage for Scotland at home and around the world alongside a host of other benefits. Perhaps the most notable outcome in terms of legacy was the unprecedented joining of public, private and third sector organisations both in Scotland and overseas – all pulling in the same direction to celebrate and promote Scotland within the same framework, utilising a common brand and messaging and multiplying our individual efforts to great effect. To date, there have been 12 Themed Years.

Events Programme

The creation of an exciting and engaging events programme is absolutely central to the Themed Year approach.  Events animate and showcase what we have to offer, encourage participation and celebration, raise awareness of the theme and provide important media moments through the year. In any Themed Year we have at least one events funding programme and a free to access partner events programme which offers a range of promotional benefits to those that sign up. 

Industry Engagement

Themed Years provide a collaborative platform to help promote your business, product and experiences. Whether you’re joining the conversation and reaching new audiences on social using the Themed Year campaign hashtags or creating new content or campaigns to tell your authentic story to visitors, Themed Years offer a great way to engage with visitors and benefit from being part of a national campaign.

A central requirement of every Themed Year is that the theme should be relatable to all parts of Scotland so that all parts of the country can see themselves in the theme, and can promote their own unique offering. 

For each Themed Year a Marketing Toolkit featuring a suite of resources such as logos, top tips and free-to-use images are created to make it simple for businesses and organisations to get on board and think creatively as to how to participate.  


The Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21 is a great example of what the collaborative Themed Years approach can achieve. For example:

Promotion: 3,662 pieces of media coverage generated a reach of c.3.7 billion worldwide

Celebration: 28 funded and 82 partner events took place Scotland-wide, and all 32 Local Authorities hosted YCW events

Participation: 1.1m people attended 28 funded events (702K in-person and 389K digital attendances)

Collaboration: 30+ Steering and Working Group partners were directly involved in shaping the year

Industry Engagement: 18,000 views of the online Marketing Toolkit and 122K individual uses of hashtags #YCW2020 and #YCW2021

Previous Themed Years

  • Year of Stories 2022

Year of Stories shone a spotlight on the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. From icons of literature to local tales, the year encouraged locals and visitors to experience a diversity of voices, take part in events and explore the places, people and cultures connected to all forms of our stories, past and present.

Promotional video

  • Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21

In 2020 and 2021, the Year of Coasts and Waters spotlighted, celebrated and promoted opportunities to experience and enjoy Scotland’s unrivalled coasts and waters, encouraging responsible engagement and participation. 

Promotional video

  • Year of Young People 2018

2018 was designated the Year of Young People (YoYP2018), a year that aimed to inspire Scotland through its young people by celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and on the international stage. Find out more about the Year of Young People 2018, including the report into its national events programme that was fully co-designed by young people.

Highlights video

  • Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017

2017 celebrated Scotland’s people, traditions, distinct culture, landscapes, attractions and icons, as well as its hidden gems. Throughout the year there was a wealth of opportunities to explore Scotland’s past through a range of cultural and creative events and activities.

Highlights video

  • Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

2016 showcased awe-inspiring innovation, breathtaking architecture and brave, bold designs through new and exciting experiences and events ranging from pop-up design exhibitions to a Tiny Homes village, Renaissance fashion shows to architecture and design festivals.

Highlights video - A look back at Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

Highlights video - Finger on Scotland's Creative Pulse

  • Year of Food and Drink 2015

2015 spotlighted, celebrated and promoted Scotland’s natural larder and quality produce to both locals and visitors. The year aimed to increase and promote Scottish produce across the tourism sector and enhance Scotland’s global reputation as a Land of Food and Drink.

Highlights video

  • Homecoming Scotland 2014

2014 was the Year of Homecoming, an unforgettable year in which Scotland welcomed the world to take part in a unique celebration of all that the country has to offer. With more than 1,000 fantastic events across the country, 2014 showcased the very best of Scottish arts, culture, food & drink, nature, activities, history, ancestry and much more.

Highlights video

New delivery model

Following an industry consultation, the Themed Years are planned to take place every second year to enable more time for planning and collaboration. Given the impact of COVID-19 an exception was made in 2021 with the 2020 year rolling forward. In 2022, we celebrated Scotland’s Year of Stories. Details of the next Themed Year will be confirmed in due course. To enquire about future Themed Years funding and opportunities, please email [email protected].