Record visitor numbers for Scottish Borders Heritage Festival

The 2017 Borders Heritage Festival will take place throughout September

Published: Tuesday, 5th December 2017

The biggest Scottish Borders Heritage Festival to date attracted almost 33,000 visitors during September, and brought an estimated £1.45million into the area.

The number of visitors was up from 20,517 in 2016 and 4,490 in 2015.

Over 200 events in month-long festival

Celebrating heritage sites through light, music, storytelling, re-enactment, theatre and performance, the month long 2017 festival saw more than 200 events take place right across the Scottish Borders, bringing the unique and colourful history of the area alive.

An economic impact survey has found that 32,919 visitors attended events, with 27 per cent coming from outwith the Scottish Borders, with an associated total visitor spend of £1.45m – a return of £16 for every £1 invested in this year’s festival.

Three quarters of visitors surveyed also rated the festival ‘very good’ or ‘good’.

Range of partners contributed to success of festival

Live Borders and ourselves delivered the 2017 festival, working alongside the newly formed Borders Heritage Forum to promote regional heritage and deliver a range of education and training elements. Additional funding was also provided by Creative Scotland, EventScotland – as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology - and the Fallago Environment Fund.

Councillor Euan Jardine, Executive Member for Culture and Sport

“This year’s Heritage Festival was a fantastic celebration of this area’s history and it is no surprise that such a rich and varied events programme attracted a record number of visitors, and brought so many people in from outwith the Scottish Borders.

“The investment in the programme by the Council, Live Borders and all the other partners has delivered a significant return which shows just how important our region’s history, heritage and archaeology is, and emphasises its year-round importance to tourism and the local economy.”

The opening event of the festival, ‘Lighting the Borders’, was made a ‘Signature’ event for Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and literally highlighted some of the Scottish Borders’ heritage sites to a national audience, through the floodlighting of properties in blue over the first weekend in September.

Ewan Jackson, Chief Executive of Live Borders

“Live Borders was delighted to play a positive role in developing the biggest and best programme of events for the Scottish Borders Heritage Festival to date. 

“It is important that the increased interest and volunteer engagement in the Borders Heritage Forum that have come through the 2017 programme provides a momentum to build on the success of this year for years to come.”

Community and school events

In addition to events at heritage locations, 16 workshops with schools and communities took place as part of the festival, attracting more than 750 participants.

Borders Heritage Forum continues to grow

During the course of the festival the membership of the Borders Heritage Forum increased to 36, with five training events provided for members, ranging from fundraising to website development.

The forum is a voluntary body that links a wide range of regional agencies, charities, societies, groups, government organisations and sites within the heritage sector and is open to all organisations and individuals who have an interest in heritage.

It aims to provide an opportunity for members to discuss ideas, collaborate and develop projects to better understand, value and promote heritage for cultural and economic benefit.

More information

To find out more about the forum or festival, visit