Opening Celebrations – New Scottish Parliament

Location: Edinburgh
Venue: Edinburgh City Centre
Dates: 01 July 1999 to 01 July 1999 

For the first time in nearly 300 years, Scotland’s Parliament was set to receive its full legislative powers and responsibilities on Thursday 1st July 1999. The Scottish Office commissioned Unique Events, who with UZ produced a day of public celebrations in acknowledgement of this historic day.

The Scottish Office

Scottish Power
British Telecom

The celebrations began with a Gala Dinner on the eve of the historic day held at Edinburgh’s new Dynamic Earth Centre, opposite the site of the New Scottish Parliament Building. Beacons were lit on Salisbury Crags, Castle Hill by Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill. A bonfire and BBQ were enjoyed on Calton Hill with Salsa Celtica playing live.

On the morning of the 1st, Her Majesty the Queen opened the Parliament in an official ceremony in the Assembly Hall. This was followed by a parade of 1500 young children representing all 73 constituencies in Scotland. The parade route stretched from the top of the Royal Mile, down the Mound and on to West Princes Street Gardens where the children enjoyed a party picnic and a programme of live pop music.

The public gathered in East Princes Street Gardens from 9.30am until 2pm to see the live broadcast of the Opening Ceremony on giant screens and listened to music specially written by Martyn Bennett for The Edinburgh Music School.


West Princes Street Gardens, 7.30pm Garbage (with Idlewild and Special Guests). Direct from their European tour Garbage played a one-off open air concert in the gardens below the Castle. A triumphant homecoming for Edinburgh’s own Shirley Manson with her American band Garbage in their first ever Edinburgh performance.

East Princes St Gardens: Opera in the Gardens
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
The Orchestra of Scottish Opera
A spectacular open air concert of classical music with Scottish National Orchestras and soloists from Scottish Opera. Donald Maxwell (baritone) Catriona Smith (soprano) conducted by James MacMillan and Richard Armstrong. The Repertoire included An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise, Jewel Song from Faust, The Merry Widow Waltz and Flower of Scotland

The Boys Of The Lough Assembly Rooms, George St A feast of Scottish traditional music with concerts and ceilidhs into the small hours. Boys of the Lough & Shetland Fiddler Aly McBain, Ceolbeg, the Robert Fish Band and Callanish Ceilidh Band.

Thousands Drawn to the Capital as History is Made:
“The people of Scotland turned out in force to herald the official opening of the first national parliament in almost 300 years…Scotland’s day of celebration was capped with a dramatic flypast by the RAF’s Red Arrows which were unexpectedly joined, to the delight of all present, by Concorde…Edinburgh was last night a city awash with celebration. It’s streets were packed by thousands of revellers of all nationalities as a city often thought of as staid showed the world how to party…Celebrations to mark the opening of the Scottish Parliament reached a climax last night with a concert by pop group Garbage. A 6,000 strong crowd packed into Princes Street Gardens, while thousands more watched the show from the street. ” Press & Journal – Aberdeen : Friday 2nd July 1999.

“…. people sat, row upon row, on the grassy banks of Princes Street Gardens, following on giant television screens the events inside the Gothic splendour of the Assembly Hall.” The Times (London) : Friday July 2nd 1999.

“In a simple and dignified ceremony, mixing the best of Scottish traditions with a contemporary touch , the Queen declared the Scottish Parliament open for business…. today was not a day for party politics. It was a day for Scotland….The great thing about today was the involvement of the thousands of ordinary people. It has been a festival occasion as well as a historic occasion.” Evening News – Edinburgh : Thursday 1st July 1999.