Edinburgh Global

Celebrating Tartan Day In New York City

On Saturday 7 April, colleagues from Edinburgh Global and Development & Alumni joined a group of alumni and other friends of the university to march in the annual Tartan Day parade up the Avenue of the Americas in New York City.


new york tartan day

Tartan Day in 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the annual Tartan Day Parade in New York as part of Scotland Week. The parade was led by the first female Grand Marshal - celebrated Scottish singer songwriter KT Tunstall. The parade brought together pipers and drummers from all over the world in a celebration of the contribution made to the USA by Scots.

The History of Tartan Day

Tartan Day is a relatively new holiday in the United States, having begun informally in Canada in the late 1980s to commemorate the Declaration of Arbroath (6 April).

In 1998 Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi sponsored a resolution to make 6 April an official holiday in the United States. Lott’s resolution began with an assertion: “Whereas April 6 has a special significance for all Americans, and especially those Americans of Scottish descent, because the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, was signed on April 6, 1320 and the American Declaration of Independence was modelled on that inspirational document …”

The statement’s accuracy is limited; the “Declaration of Arbroath” has only been known as such since the 1920s, and it is problematic to characterise it as the “the Scottish Declaration of Independence.” Further, despite the claim, Second, there is no demonstrable connection between the Declaration of Arbroath and the American Declaration of Independence.

Despite these points, Tartan Day has emerged as an important day to celebrate Scottish influence and the Scottish diaspora across North America. Over the years it has been expanded into a week-long programme of events promoting Scotland in North America.

It is also a day to celebrate the continuing links between Scotland, Canada and the United States.

Our connection to North America

The University of Edinburgh continues to play a crucial role in fostering relations between Scotland and North America.

We are the number-one destination for US and Canadian students in the United Kingdom, and have been for several years. This is a credit to the hard work put in by Edinburgh Global’s North American team: particularly Tessa Birley, Shannon Hersage, Scott McQuarrie, and Mary Kate Sherwood.

It has been my privilege to march with the Edinburgh delegation in the Tartan Day parade for several years. It’s a wonderful and fun opportunity to connect with our alumni and friends in North America. It’s always nice to see old friends and make new ones.

The parade allows our alumni networks to engage with the University and each other. Alumni groups also attended a Scottish Government event the day before the parade to launch the Scotland is Now campaign.

In good Scottish fashion we retire to a local watering hole for refreshments after the parade - marching is thirsty work!

All staff, students, alumni and friends of the University are welcome to join us on April 6, 2019. If you’ll be in the New York area then please let us know – we want to make sure we have the largest delegation of any Scottish university!