Category Archives: Scotland-Tartan Week

Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop Visits the Grange with Stephen T. Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School

Alexander Hamilton’s home, The Grange, at St Nicholas Park, received a visit from Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop during her visit to New York for Scotland Week 2015.  

The Grange reopened to the public in 2012 after extensive restoration by the National Parks Service and the ASF is proud to be working with National Parks and the New York Parks Department on the Scottish heritage of the gardens and links to Scotland.  The Grange was built by John McComb, and his work has been spotlighted within the ASF project “The Scots Who Built New York”.

The Grange is named after Alexander Hamilton’s ancestral home in Scotland. The plantings in the gardens follow many of the original elements layed out by Hamilton in his diaries.

During the visit, Secretary Hyslop met with the pupils of Stephen T. Mather High School, and joined them in the planting of shrubs in the Hamilton Gardens.

Stephen T. Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School, located in New York City, is a Career and Technical Education high school for hands-on skills-training in the specialized building arts and landscape trades, focused on high-quality craftsmanship and historic preservation.  Students work directly in the trades of carpentry, masonry/plastering, decorative finishes and landscape management. To learn more about the school and their community, visit their website here.

The Mather School is partnering with the National Park Service on various projects including the First Bloom Garden project and The Grange is one of the National Park sites they will be involved in.

To learn more of the restoration and of the work of John McComb, visit the ASF website here.


Secretary Hyslop and ASF Chairman Alan Bain with students of the Mather High School

Mather Logo


Looking Back: Scotland in the 1940s

New York Tartan Week 2015 may be behind us, but the reminiscing doesn’t have to stop. TIME recently published an article on a LIFE magazine profile of Scotland from the 1940s, featuring the country’s landscape, economy, traditions, and celebrated exports, including whiskey, golf, tweed, herring, ships, and bagpipes. The awe-inspiring photographs from the original LIFE feature include bagpipe players, traditional dancers, Highland Games competitors, gorgeous views of the Scottish landscape, and more, and can be viewed in full on TIME’s website. Take a look at a preview of the images below… you’ll be looking forward to next year’s Tartan Week before you know it!


Hans Wild—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images


Hans Wild—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images


Competitors for the world championchip, dancing the Reel of Tulloch, Scotland 1947. Hans Wild—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images


Sights from the 17th Annual New York Tartan Day Parade!

The 17th Annual New York Tartan Day Parade today was a smashing success. From the sounds of pipes and drums at the pre-parade concert at Bryant Park to the Westies and Scotties of the Barbour Tartan Dog Pack to the over 300 Outlander fans who came out to support Grand Marshal Graham McTavish, the day was a true celebration of Scottish culture and spirit!


Lanark and District Pipe Band at the Pre-Parade Concert at Bryant Park 


The Pipes and Drums of the Atlantic Watch at the Pre-Parade Concert at Bryant Park 


Members of the Barbour Tartan Dog Pack meeting each other for the first time!


Grand Marshal Graham McTavish and Honorary Grand Marshal Rt. Hon Tricia Marwick, MSP, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Government


The American-Scottish Foundation marchers!


Over 300 Outlander fans joined in the festivities!


Belhaven, the official beer sponsor for the parade!


A strikingly well-dressed parade goer takes in the sound of pipes and drums.


The Barbour Tartan Dog Pack


One of the members of the Barbour Tartan Dog Pack – a true model!


Many thanks to the Algonquin Hotel, our home base for the day of festivities!

Photos by Sara Heegaard

10 of the Best Big Apple Bars for Tartan Week

Celebrating Tartan Week in New York City this year? We hope you’ll enjoy some of the wonderful offerings of Scottish food and beverage the city has to offer, whether it’s stopping for a post-parade pint of Bellhaven or enjoying a meal at a gastropub.

ScotlandNow has put together a lovely list of their favorite places to get a drink in NYC that include several of ASF’s favorites – though if we’re naming names, we’d have to mention our highlight haunts The Craic – Irish/Scottish Pub and Biddy’s Pub to the selections! Take a look at a few of their selections and start planning the culinary side of your New York Tartan Week adventures.

The Shakespeare, 24 East 39th Street


The Shakespeare (Image courtesy of ScotlandNow)

For wonderful atmosphere, service, and the perfect pint and chips, look no further than The Shakespeare.

Caledonia, 1609 Second Avenue 


Caledonia (Image courtesy of ScotlandNow)

On Tuesday, April 7, Bellhaven Head Brewer George Howell will be hosting a Tap Takeover at Caledonia, but if you can’t make it then, stop by any time for a pint of Bellhaven on tap, or one of their over 180 varieties of Scotch!

Iona Brooklyn, 180 Grand Street (Williamsburg)


Iona (Image courtesy of ScotlandNow)

If you’re in the mood for music with your drink, Iona hosts Scottish Session gigs every Monday at 8:30 pm. Their urban beer garden is a wonderful location to kick back after a long day of sightseeing.

Jones Wood Foundry, 401 East 76th Street

Jones Wood Foundry (image courtesy of ScotlandNow)

Jones Wood Foundry (image courtesy of ScotlandNow)

A wonderful place not only to grab a drink but a full meal, Jones Wood Foundry is one of ASF’s favorite gastropubs: friendly and attentive service and wonderful cuisine.

Take a look at the full list, with photos, and read the article on ScotlandNow’s website.


Barbour Hosting Westies & Scotties in the New York Tartan Day Parade

This year, Barbour, the iconic British clothing brand, will sponsor one of the most well-loved units of the New York Tartan Day Parade: the Scottie and Westie Tartan Dog Pack.

32bfe2ec-0358-46bf-8234-18633183baecThe Barbour Westie in his Barbour dog coat

Thousands of marchers are expected to take part in the parade, and over one hundred of them will be well dressed Scottie and West Highland White Terriers, who will sport trademark Barbour tartan coats as they march up Sixth Avenue with their owners.

Tom Hooven, General Manager of Barbour Inc. said:

“The Tartan Day Parade gives us a great opportunity to creatively showcase our association with tartan and we look forward to taking part in the Parade with the Scotties and Westies.

“Barbour’s heritage is in the British countryside and throughout our history, we have had a long association with dogs both in providing clothing for their owners and providing dog coats and accessories for all shapes and sizes for our faithful friends.”

If you are in New York and would like your dog to star as part of the Tartan Pack in the Parade, send a photo of your dog to by March 25th – and your Scottie or Westie may be chosen to receive a Barbour dog coat to wear in the parade.

Read more (and view a photo gallery of dogs at the Tartan Day Parade!) at



Grand Marshals Announced for the 17th Annual New York Tartan Day Parade!

The 17th Annual New York Tartan Day Parade will be led by Graham McTavish, celebrated Scottish actor and star of Starz Original Series “Outlander” alongside Rt. Hon Tricia Marwick, MSP, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Government.  

Mr. McTavish said: “It is a singular honor to follow in the footsteps of previous Grand Marshals. I hope I can live up to the illustrious tradition established by my predecessors and bring pride to my family, clan and nation,” Graham McTavish responded when accepting the role.

The Presiding Officer said: “Having taken part in previous Tartan Day parades and experienced at first-hand the color, enthusiasm and buzz of the marchers and spectators, I am pleased and excited to represent the Scottish Parliament at the head of the Tartan Day Parade.  New York’s Tartan Week celebrations highlight the unique relationship between Scotland and North America.”


Graham McTavish, Grand Marshal of the 17th Annual New York Tartan Day Parade


The Rt Hon, Tricia Marwick, MSP, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament has been appointed Honorary Grand Marshal of the upcoming New York Tartan Day Parade

To register to march in the parade on Saturday, April 11, 2015, visit ASF’s homepage here.


Purchase your 2015 Tartan Day Parade Pin Today!

The Tartan Day Parade is fast approaching… register here for the NYC Tartan Week Parade on Saturday, April 11 and purchase your 2015 New York Tartan Day Parade Lapel Pin, now available! The pin is a perfect addition to your parade attire, whether you’re spectating along the route or marching with us!

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 1.17.10 PM

If you are a Member or Friend of the ASF and wish to march with the American-Scottish Foundation please complete this form so that we can register you as marching with us.

The Parade starts at 2:00 p.m. on April 11 at West 45th Street and marches up 6th Avenue to 55th Street. 

Please be in touch with any queries at




Alan Cumming’s Memoir Released

We are proud to announce that Alan Cumming, our 2009 New York Tartan Day Parade Grand Marshal and two-time Emmy award winner, has a new book that was just released on Tuesday, October 7: his memoir, Not My Father’s Son (Dey Street Books).

     Presented: The actor launched his book in New York on Monday night
Alan Cumming at his book release event in New York on Monday, October 6

Cumming is currently starring in the CBS television show The Good Wife, as well as the Roundabout Theatre’s production of Cabaret.

Though Cumming is known for his ability to expertly fuse humor into his roles, Not My Father’s Son reveals the darker and more traumatic side to his growing up experience. Navigating his troubling relationship with his father that grew darker and darker over the years with physical and verbal abuse, Cumming reflects on his growing up in rural Scotland and his relationships with other family members.

The Chicago Tribune calls Not My Father’s Son a clear-eyed, often moving account of both [Cumming’s] terrifying childhood and his recent attempts to come to terms with his past.”

To listen to an interview with Cumming on the Leonard Lopate Show on his new book, click here.

Cumming, 2009 Grand Marshall of the New York Tartan Day Parade

Don’t forget to register for the 2015 New York Tartan Day Parade! For any questions regarding registration, please email

Letter from America – The Story behind Tartan Day

Alan Bain, Chairman of the American Scottish Foundation recalls the humble beginnings of the first Tartan Day Parade in New York, which was so small it took place on the sidewalk.

Alan Bain’s Tartan Day Parade in New York with Jack McConnell, Sean Connery and Mayor Bloomberg 

The concept of Tartan Day was introduced to The Scottish Coalition, which is group of six national American Scottish organizations that had been convened by “force of nature” Ms. Duncan MacDonald, in order to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Caledonian Foundation – of which she was a director and officer. Once described as “the first lady of Scotland in America” she called herself Duncan after her Scots grandfather because her father had anticipated a boy – and because another girl at school had the same name as her, Dorothy. Under the Scottish Coalition she managed to bring to get the many organizations that all had the same goal – to support Scotland.

Tartan Day originated in Canada. Its purpose was to celebrate the role Scots and Canadian Scots had played in the birth and development of Canada. The strategy resonated with the group assembled by Ms MacDonald as Scots and American Scots had a similar impact in the U.S. Of the 41 men who have served as president of United States an astonishing thirty-one have had at least some documented Scottish ancestry. That is a score of more than 75 per cent, and when compared with the less than 4.4% of the American people in general who are of Scottish descent amounts to an over-representation of more than 17 times! The Canadians picked April 6 as the date on which Tartan Day was to be celebrated since April 6, 1320 was the date on which the Scots submitted a petition to the then Pope urging his support of their determination to be free of English involvement in their affairs. The document, known as The Declaration of Arbroath contains such stirring language and powerful ideas that it served as a strong influence on America’s Declaration of Independence.

As part of the assembled group, The American-Scottish Foundation was tasked with initiating Tartan Day celebrations in New York City and chose to an annual parade. Accordingly, on Saturday, April 6, 1998 the first “Parade” was held. It took place on the sidewalk of Third Avenue early in the morning from the British Consul General’s office on Third Avenue at 52nd Street to the Dag Hammarskjold Park by the U.N. at First Avenue and 49th Street.

Despite its modest beginning, Tartan Day quickly became Tartan Week then Tartan Fortnight and continues to grow, taking on the form of a Fringe Festival where activities to suit most tastes take place. Today the Parade attracts a crowd of thousands including visitors from Scotland that add to the enjoyment of the occasion and Tartan Day celebration are held as far away as Argentina. Included in the annual Parade in NYC are a contingent of Scottish and West Highland Terriers, a variety of Pipe Bands from the East Coast and beyond and each year a contingent of bands and groups from Scotland.

What’s especially gratifying for those of us involved is the fact that the celebration of Tartan Day is now a National as well as an International phenomenon.


Alan L. Bain

The Kelpies

Published on Apr 10, 2014

The Helix is extremely proud to present ‘The Kelpies’, a video by award winning filmmaker Walid Salhab.

Using a unique hyperlapse technique, this video features footage captured within a live construction site. Filming under these conditions is rarely possible; filming under these conditions using the hyperlapse technique is close to impossible.

Find out more about The Kelpies Film and capturing techniques here:

Created from over 60 days of stop-motion filming across 7 months, and tracking construction through to completion, this film uses over 12,000 individual photos, none of which have been edited or manipulated beyond settings inside the camera. Walid captured 120,000 individual images to create this seven minute masterpiece.

Find out more about The Kelpies here:

And about the ASF’s involvement in bringing maquettes of the Kelpies, for display in New York’s Bryant Park, here:

Music: ‘The Kelpies’ by Iglomat, composed for the first part of the film & ‘Tempting Secrets’ by Kevin Macleod