Celebrating St Andrew’s Day at the home of the saltire

A festival celebrating St Andrew’s Day and the very best of Scottish history, heritage, culture, film, music and food is set to take place later this month.

Just a short distance from Scotland’s historic capital city of Edinburgh, The Saltire Festival will host a wide range of events and exhibitions, some of which are free, in leading venues throughout East Lothian – home of Scotland’s iconic Saltire Flag, from 24 to 30 November 2021.

Elaine Carmichael, a spokesperson for Visit East Lothian said: ‘We’re delighted that our wonderful region is once again hosting The Saltire Festival. St Andrew’s Day in East Lothian really is no ordinary day out, and this year’s festival will be an extra-special celebration as we return to holding live events following the pandemic.

‘As the original home of Scotland’s iconic Saltire Flag, surrounded by stunning coastline, rolling countryside and vibrant towns and villages, the region is the perfect place to celebrate this important national day and the very best that Scotland has to offer.’

Some of Scotland’s leading musical artists will take to the stage at the festival.

This includes a programme of events at The Brunton, a world-class theatre and entertainment venue located in the town of Musselburgh: from Scotland’s own highly acclaimed contemporary roots and folk musician, Kris Drever. General admission price £17; to West End star Keith Jack and the MacDonald Brothers, who will co-host an evening celebrating some of Scotland’s greatest music icons – including The Proclaimers, Lewis Capaldi and Dougie Maclean. General admission price £25.

Scottish West End star Keith Jack

The festival will also celebrate Scotland in Film, with a special screening of the cult Scottish comedy-drama Local Hero starring Peter Riegert, Burt Lancaster and Denis Lawson, with a young Peter Capaldi. The film follows a young oil executive on a journey to Scotland to buy a whole village on behalf of the oil company he works for, which is run by Happer (Burt Lancaster). Those who will be watching the the film for the first time at the festival, will find out why to this day, visitors from all over the world come to Scotland just to find a phone box featured in the film. Tickets from £7 to £8.

For fans of Diana Galbaldon’s best-selling Outlander novels and hit global TV series, Dr Aaron Johnstone will host a free Prestonpans Battlefield by Night walking tour. The event will explore the forgotten story of the events that took place the night before the Battle of Prestonpans. The battle in East Lothian was the first significant engagement of the Jacobite Rising in 1745, when Jacobite forces led by Bonnie Prince Charlie defeated the Hanoverian ‘redcoats’ army under Sir John Cope. The battle lasted less than thirty minutes and led to the Jacobite’s invasion of England.

The first Outlander stories are largely based around the Jacobite rebellion and the events that followed.

For foodies looking for a stress-free shopping experience, the Haddington Farmers’ Market offers a wide range of local produce and seasonal food and drink. It’s the perfect place for festival goers to pick up some ingredients to cook their very own authentic St Andrew’s Day meal at home.

Back at The Brunton, the ‘Wherever a Scotsman goes…’ John Muir and Robert Burns Exhibition will be free to view throughout November. It tells the story of locally born global conservation pioneer John Muir and the role Scotland’s national bard played in inspiring him.

Whether ‘sauntering’ in the Sierra foothills, exploring the Alaskan glaciers, rediscovering Scotland or travelling the World, Muir always had Burns with him. As he said himself, he: ‘had him by heart… On my first long walk, I carried a copy of Burn’s poems and sang them all the way. All the country and the people, beasts and birds, seemed to like them.’

Pipers at the Saltire Festival (Photo: Rob McDougall)

Muir’s knowledge and love of Burns appears throughout his letters and writing, some of which will be displayed in this free Saltire Festival exhibition.

It is said that the St Andrew’s Cross or Saltire is Scotland’s national flag (the oldest flag in Europe and the Commonwealth) originated in a battle between the Picts (with support from The Scots) and the Saxons close to the East Lothian village of Athelstaneford in the dark ages (believed to have been 832AD).

It is said that King Angus, saw a cloud formation of a white saltire (the diagonal cross on which St Andrew had been martyred) against the blue sky. The king vowed that if he gained the victory with the saint’s help, then Andrew would become be the patron saint of Scotland. They did win and the Saltire became the flag of Scotland.

For more information about The Saltire Festival visit

To plan a break in the Home of the Saltire Flag, go to