VisitScotland Chairman Dr Mike Cantlay, today congratulates the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival for kicking off Whisky Month in such a ‘dram’atic manner.  The festival, in its 15th year, held a record 431 events, with many sold out before the festival began on 1 May. Direct sales of almost 6000 tickets via the website alone exceeded £130,000, but final figures for sales will be even higher as tickets sold at the festival hubs and at participating venues will significantly increase these numbers.

There were representatives from 31 different countries, with visitors coming from all over Europe, USA, Canada, Taiwan and Australia to join in the celebrations with Scots and celebrate the Year of Homecoming.

The inaugural Spirit of Speyside Sessions, the new musical string to the festival’s bow supported by Homecoming Scotland, sold in excess of 1500 tickets with a value of almost £15,000. These figures were topped by another 400 people attending the opening launch dinner. The Sessions added a night time dimension to the festival, encouraging visitors to stay in the area for longer during the five days of the event. The musical events received an almost universal positive response with visitors even suggesting bands and new venues for 2015.

Festival Chairman James Campbell says,
“Our part of the world is known the world over for its warmth of welcome and hospitality and this year’s visitors have shared this experiences with us. I have to pay tribute to all our great whisky companies and their dedicated, passionate staff who act as ambassadors for Speyside as well as all the businesses who have taken part in the 15th annual Spirit of Speyside.

“They have delivered a programme of whisky, food and music events which will stay long in the memories of our visitors from across the globe; making them feel very much a part of our communities.

“It was also really pleasing to see so many Homecoming visitors making the journey back to Scotland and Speyside or making the journey for the first time. It was very gratifying to see them getting such a special welcome home.

“The new Spirit of Speyside Sessions music festival, with top class musicians from all over Scotland has been a real success and, again, the mix of local Speysiders and visiting guests from all over the world gave a tremendous buzz and wonderful atmosphere to these evenings and added to the already high level of fun and enjoyment which always exists at our Festival.”

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, adds, “We’re absolutely delighted that this year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, one of Scotland’s best-loved whisky festivals, was such a huge success.  With the launch of the inaugural Spirit of Speyside Sessions, this year’s line-up boasted some of the finest traditional music acts, comedians and ceilidhs.

“Homecoming 2014 is all about celebrating our greatest assets and it’s fitting that whisky, enjoyed right throughout the world, has a whole month of dedicated celebrations. This year is the perfect time for visitors and locals to get out and enjoy over 800 Homecoming events that are taking place right across Scotland.”

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