A horse-led procession of over 500 people marching from Arbroath Abbey to Arbroath Harbour, an atmospheric re-enactment of the Declaration of Arbroath sailing to France in 1320, a giant outdoor lunch on Beacon Green and hundreds of voices singing within the walls of Arbroath Abbey are just some of the events which will guarantee the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath is celebrated in style.
Widely acknowledged as one of Scotland’s most important documents, the Declaration of Arbroath was sent from Arbroath Abbey to Pope John in Avignon on 6 April 1320. The letter, with the seals of Scotland’s nobles attached, emphasised Scotland’s right to be a nation, while also stressing that the country’s king had to follow the will of the people, sowing the seeds of modern democracy.
On 5 April over 500 people will mark the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath by taking part in a procession from Arbroath Abbey to Arbroath Harbour. The Arbroath 2020 Procession will evoke the spirit of Arbroath’s Declaration Pageants of the 1950s and 1960s, when hordes of cheering onlookers would line the streets as hundreds of medieval nobles, soldiers and monks made their way to the Abbey for the re-enactment of the 1320 signing of the Declaration of Arbroath.
The programme announcement was also the first airing of the new Arbroath 2020 logo. Designed by students from Dundee & Angus College working with a top Scottish design agency, the eye-catching logo will be used to identify Arbroath 2020 events and will also appear on the banners and flags which will decorate the town from January 2020 onwards.
The highly significant part Arbroath played in history is worthy of a series of celebrations that will be remembered for generations.
Many months of creativity, planning and hard work by Arbroath 2020 Committee, our partner organisations and local groups have resulted in an exciting and ambitious six-month programme of celebrations.
The events taking place in Arbroath during 2020 will shine the light on our historic town, bringing people together, attracting visitors from near and far.
The celebrations begin on 4 April with a festival weekend featuring several key Arbroath 2020 events. On the evening of 4 April, 300 singers’ voices will resound around Arbroath Abbey for the world premiere of ‘Of Light Breaking’, a specially commissioned choral work by Paul Mealor, voted ‘The nation’s favourite composer’, and internationally-renowned poet Grahame Davies.
People who witnessed this spectacle speak of how the hairs on their necks stood on end as the procession, with King Robert The Bruce leading the way, came along the High Street.
We hope the procession on 5 April will evoke the same enthusiasm and support. However, although the Arbroath 2020 Procession will reflect the history and heritage of the Declaration, it will be a pageant for our time. We want it to bring people and communities together, to excite and involve everyone in Arbroath, especially young people.
The Arbroath 2020 Procession will end at Arbroath Harbour where there will be a ceremonial reading of the Declaration by voices from all generations before a replica of this priceless document is handed into the safekeeping of a local skipper and sailed out to sea, as happened 700 years ago.
The procession will be followed by The Big Eco Lunch, a celebration of the food and drink of Angus. Taking place at Beacon Green on 5 April, The Big Eco Lunch is expected to attract hundreds of diners and will feature a mouthwatering menu of local delicacies and specialities.
I look forward to celebrating the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath and the elemental role that my hometown fulfilled in setting the character and identity of Scotland and its people – past, present and future.
This important occasion will attract attention from far and near, shining a very bright light on Arbroath and Angus. We look forward to many visitors joining with our local communities in enjoying the exciting programme of events.
The Big Eco Lunch will be a fantastic opportunity for people to share the unrivalled food and drink that Angus provides for a global market and which draws people in to our county.
Tourism is vital to Angus (generating £240 million within the local economy in 2018) and Angus Council is delighted to work closely with Arbroath 2020 organisers in providing another magnificent attraction to the area.
Arbroath 2020 also launched a dedicated website - Arbroath2020.com - where the programme of events can be found, along with information on special projects and how to get involved.
Later this month, an Open Call for Angus artists will be launched. The Arbroath 2020 arts fund of £10,000 will provide grants of between £250 - £1000 to support creative projects taking place in Arbroath. There will be an information session on the application process at the Arbroath 2020 Stakeholder Event on 23 October.
On 26 October, Arbroath Guildry will reveal their impressive contribution to the celebrations when the Head Boys and Girls from Arbroath Academy and Arbroath High School unveil a bronze bas relief telling the story of Arbroath and its people.
To find out more about Arbroath 2020 and how your business, community or an organisation you’re involved with can contribute visit Arbroath2020.com.