Game of Thrones star Iain Glen helps to launch redesign of Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

A twenty-five million pound campaign to help pay for a radical overhaul of part of Princes Street Gardens has been launched with the support of Game of Thrones star Iain Glen.

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The Edinburgh-born actor has recorded a voice-over for an animated film which has been unveiled to coincide with the kick-starting of at least three years of fundraising. The Quaich Project.

Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland, castle tours
Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland

The Quaich Project, as the revamp will be known from today, will create a new arena for open-air concerts and events in West Princes Street Gardens, replacing the existing Ross Bandstand at the heart of “a landmark space that makes a clear statement as a welcoming, diverse, historic and forward-thinking destination”. Named after Scotland’s traditional cup of friendship, the new identity is said to have been inspired by the bowl-shaped topography of the gardens, which host the fireworks finale of the Edinburgh International Festival and the centrepiece concert of the city’s Hogmanay celebrations. The Ross Development Trust, which was created by former Edinburgh Playhouse owner Norman Springford after he offered to help pay for a new venue, said the planned overhaul would make the gardens “truly world class”. Mr Springford, who has offered to pay £5 million towards the cost of The Quaich, declared: “Our ambition is to create a space that says something about us as a nation – a place we can all be proud of.” As it will look after the transformation The trust, which says it wants to “bring people together in new ways to celebrate one of Scotland’s finest green spaces,” hopes there will be a hike in the number of people using the gardens, by opening up the area currently occupied by the bandstand for daily use, as well as overhauling the wider landscape. The campaign and brand have been developed by The Edinburgh-based advertising and design agency The Lane, whose previous clients include Edinburgh Airport, 
ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne, biscuit manufacturer Border and Scottish dairy firm Graham’s.

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Diana Gabaldon takes her own Outlander tour

BEST-SELLING author Diana Gabaldon got to experience the Outlander effect for herself when she hit the tourist trail of the show’s top locations.

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The US writer stunned fans of the Jacobite telly phenomenon at the weekend as she turned up at Culross in Fife and nearby Falkland Palace.

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Diana relaxes in Culross Palace gardens, used as fictional Castle Leoch herb garden in series

It was almost like a surprise royal visit as gobsmacked tourists mobbed the 67-year-old, who happily posed for selfies and signed autographs.

Diana said: “It’s always fun being in Scotland but usually I’m stopping somewhere for research purposes. So it’s been nice to just feel like a tourist for a change.”

The Scottish Sun joined The Outlander creator for the day with tour company Mary’s Meanders, who specialise in the show’s location visits.

First stop was Culross, which doubles, as the fictional village of Cranesmuir in the TV series.

Photographer Graham Harris Graham, who runs The Outlander And Beyond fine art gallery in the town, praised the Arizona-born writer.

The 54-year-old told Diana: “I would like to thank you for paying my mortgage — seriously.”

Next up she visited ancient Falkland Palace, with its famous Bruce Fountain.

Outlander fans will know that’s where the ghost of Sam Heughan’s Jacobite character Jamie Fraser visits time-traveller lover Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe).

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Spanish fan Ana Garcia was completely overwhelmed when she spotted her idol.

The tearful 46-year-old from Barcelona, who works for a mobile phone company, said: “I came here to visit Outlander locations but never expected to see the woman who made it all happen. I will never forget this moment.”

The show has seen a huge boom in Scottish tourism

Victoria Arias was also delighted to meet the woman whose books have sold 35million copies and been translated into 40 languages.

The 30-year-old French blogger said: “This is my third time in Scotland to visit Outlander locations but the first time I’ve met Diana.

“It was fantastic to see the person who started it all in a place where it is actually filmed.”

Diana’s visit came after tourist chiefs announced visitor numbers continue to rocket — up 67 per cent from 887,000 to 1.5million a year — on the back of the TV smash which is shown in 87 countries around the world.

But humble Diana said: “The Outlander effect is sort of a miracle — I had nothing to do with it other than writing the books.”

The mum of three was working as a professor at Arizona State University when she first began writing her story “for practice” — after famously seeing actor Frazer Hines play a Jacobite warrior in a 1969 repeat of Doctor Who.

It has since spawned nine books — with the latest, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, out later this year. And the fifth TV series — which is shown on Amazon Prime in the UK — will start filming around Scotland from next month.

We joined Diana on a scouting mission

But aside from all the official stats, Diana also receives personal testimonies about how Outlander has changed people’s lives.

She explained: “When we were filming an episode from the first series in Culross there was a little shop up the back street where myself and another writer went for a sandwich.

“But all we had on us were £20 notes and the owner didn’t have any change.

“I said ‘”We’re with the film thing and he said he knew because we had our cans — headphones — over our arms. He told us he’d trust us to come back and settle up later.

Outlander’s Sam Heughan reveals celeb crush and tells fans his favourite Scottish words

“But just as we left he came rushing after us and said, ‘I saw your name on your headphones and I’ve just realised you’re Diana Gabaldon — for you everything is free. Take anything you want’.”

She added: “Then there are people who make crafts and do art — there are thousands of Facebook pages that sell Outlander gear.

“One woman wrote to me saying she has a business doing stencils to go on bedroom walls of Outlander erotica and asked if she could use some of the more romantic quotes from my books.

“So there are these spin-offs all around the world, although Scotland is where you can see the direct financial impact it has had.”

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Outlander exhibition opens in North Carolina

Fans of the popular Starz series “Outlander” had a unique experience at Museum of the Albemarle on Saturday.

Artifacts of Outlander,” a traveling exhibit that used “Outlander” as a backdrop, began at 10 a.m. and featured a bagpipe performance and discussion on Scottish Highland history by Tim MacLeod. In the museum lobby, fans took turns taking pictures with a lifesized cardboard cutout of one of the show’s main characters, Jamie MacKenzie Fraser.  Outlander news from Private tours Edinburgh .Phone 07305-294773 for more details or contacts us online .

MacLeod’s discussion included the Argyll Colony, a group of Highland Scots who settled in North Carolina in the Upper Cape Fear around 1739, and the American Revolutionary Battle of Moores Creek Bridge, in what is today Pender County.

By 1774 Highland Scots had settled in parts of North Carolina from the Cape Fear River Basin to as far west as Boone, MacLeod said. Many of them still spoke their native Gaelic and there was even a Gaelic language newspaper at the time.  

“It was great. He was very knowledgable,” said Betsy Sherlock, following MacLeod’s discussion.

Sherlock is an Elizabeth City resident who along with her husband watch the “Outlander” series on the pay TV service Starz.

“I’m new to ‘Outlander,’” she said, with a bright smile. “We have just started the second season.”  

The fourth season of “Outlander” debuted last year. At least two additional seasons are planned.

“Outlander” opens with focus on Claire Randall, a former World War II combat nurse who about six months after the war is swept back in time. She and her husband had been on a second honeymoon in the town of Inverness, Scotland, when she slips through time and winds up in 1743 Scotland. She is taken in by clan MacKenzie, who are Jacobites, Scottish highlanders who were staunch supporters of ousted King James II and his descendants, and were at odds with the English army. The highlanders see Claire as a foreigner, hence the title of the show: “Outlander.” 

On display in the museum lobby were Scottish Highland artifacts from the 18th century. Sarah Hill, of Sunbury, said she had a work-related interest in Saturday’s exhibit.

“I work at the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center and of course the Dismal Swamp is featured in the ‘Outlander’ books,” she said.

The show is based on the book series written by American writer Diane Gabaldon.

“I have read all of the books,” said Tara Ferguson, of South Mills. “I am a huge ‘Outlander’ fan.”

Asked why she likes the series so much, she said: “The adventure!”

“It goes from Scotland to North Carolina to our backyard,” said Ferguson, who was accompanied by Lisa Rayman, of Chesapeake, Virginia. Rayman said she’s just getting familiar with “Outlander.”

“I’m a tag-along and I know nothing about ‘Outlander,’” she said, laughing. However, she was curious to learn more about the series. 

“I am interested, just with the little bit she’s told me,” Rayman said, pointing to Ferguson. 

In between his music, MacLeod, of the St. Andrews Legion Pipes and Drums, in Chester, Virginia, wove in a brief history of the songs themselves, plus a history of the evolution of the bagpipe as an instrument. 

He later led the group of nearly 70 guests into the museum’s auditorium, where he continued his discussion. When MacLeod asked if their family lineage includes Scottish ancestors, a majority of the audience raised their hands that theirs does.

Museum of the Albemarle is exhibiting “Artifacts of Outlander” in partnership with Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in Calvert County, Maryland. The exhibit will remain on display at MoA through March 27.

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