The John Muir Festival 2014 is set to open in April with a spectacular night-time arts event – on the theme of Scotland as Home.
The festival 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.
It begins with two evenings, April 17 and 18, 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 April 21.
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 April 26.
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 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 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 pace, planting native seeds and writing poetry along the way.