Scottish poet Robert Burns gave the English-speaking world some of its most famous sayings and senti­ments, including the New Year’s favourite Auld Lang Syne and the rhapsody, “My love is like a red, red rose.”

Now on the 250th anniversary of his birth, the Scottish government hopes worldwide interest in the poet will create a tourism boom. As part of the 250th celebration, the tourism industry has launched Homecoming Scotland 2009 to attract visitors with Scottish roots from around the world, as well as those who are just curious, back to the old country.

The schedule of some 300 events includes a huge gathering of the clans in Edinburgh in July.

Burns’ political radicalism, romantic verse and use of Scots dialect have made him a heroic figure to many Scottish people, especially to nationalists like members of the Scottish National Party, which governs in Edinburgh.

“Burns is the inspiration behind our yearlong celebration of some of Scotland’s great contributions to the world: golf, whisky, great minds and innovations, our rich culture, wonderful heritage and of course, Robert Burns himself,” said Scottish tourism minister Jim Mather.

The global Scottish diaspora dwarfs Scotland’s population of just over five million. More than 4.8 million Americans reported Scottish ancestry in the 2000 census, and more than four million Canadians also claim Scottish roots.

Burns fans may also want to visit places he lived, including Ellisland Farm, Dumfries and Mossgiel Farm in Mauchline. “Burns an’ a’ That!” festivals are scheduled for the third week of May in East, North and South Ayrshire. Other events and attractions include whisky tastings and distillery tours and 15 trails across Scotland showcasing castles and other heritage sites.

Festivals include:
• StAnza, Scotland’s Poetry Festival, March 18-22 in St. Andrews
• The Edinburgh International Film Festival, June 17-28
• The International Genealogy Festival, July 21-24
• The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Aug. 7-31
• The Edinburgh International Book Festival, Aug. 15-31
• The Edinburgh International Festival, Aug. 14-Sept. 6.

On the web

For more about Homecoming Scotland 2009, visit

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