illumination: Harbour Festival of Light

Scottish Maritime Museum and Irvine Harbourside, North Ayrshire

Thursday 30th November – Sunday 3rd December


Jaw-dropping daring-do is promised as Spinal Chord aerial acrobats fly across the Scottish Maritime Museum’s vast Linthouse on rattling chains, slack ropes, cloud swings and a running wall in this year’s brand new Light, Fire & Aerial Art Spectacular, Thursday 30 November to Sunday 3 December.

In the Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology, the Scottish Maritime Museum is swapping the graceful aerial silks of last year’s show for rope and chain as illumination : Harbour Festival of Light cranks up a gear to celebrate Scotland’s shipbuilding and industrial heritage through aerial performance, live music and a fabulous light show.


David Mann, Director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, explains:

“We’re thrilled to announce that we’re going all Steampunk and industrial for this year’s brand new illumination Light, Fire and Aerial Art Spectacular in the Linthouse and it’s going to an amazing experience for all.

“It’s been an exciting week behind the scenes at the Linthouse as Spinal Chord Founder, Colombian choreographer, dancer and aerial acrobat Rodolfo, began rigging the running wall, which is set to be one of the highlights of the show. You’re going to have to see it to believe it and I urge everyone to buy their tickets soon and be sure of catching this un-missable event!” 

As well as the aerial acrobatics, live music and light show inside the colossal former shipyard building, visitors to the illumination Light, Fire & Aerial Art Spectacular will enjoy fire performances, stiltwalkers and jugglers outside in the Courtyard. 

The light show inside the Linthouse will also continue outside with light installations across the Courtyard and the story of shipbuilding projected onto the Linthouse façade. 

‘Sailing boats, steamboats and beyond – the story of shipbuilding’ will feature unseen photographs from the Museum’s archives.

There will also be a Vintage Bus Bar for those wanting to stay awhile and soak in the magical atmosphere.

The daily performances of the Light, Fire & Aerial Art Spectacular are a highlight of illumination : Harbour Festival of Light which will begin on St Andrew’s Day with a free firework display over Irvine Harbour and run until Sunday 3 December.

Other festival highlights include the illumination Light Trail which will feature the world’s first Illumaphonium, a magical interactive sound and light sculpture; ‘On the Tide’, a stunning light artwork snaking from the Harbourside onto the River Irvine; and the three metre high Maquettes of the world’s largest equine sculptures, Andy Scott’s shimmering steel Kelpies.

The four day winter adventure will also include illumiBike Clan Stunt shows on Friday 1 December, skiff racing; a fabulous community Lantern Parade on Saturday 2nd December; Murray McDavid whisky tastings and entertainment aboard the Murray McDavid cutter boat with ‘Whisky Bard’ Robin Laing; food and craft fair, funfair and more.

illumination Harbour Festival of Light has, once again, received support as part of the Scotland’s Winter Festivals events programme. The festival, which also celebrates the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, has also been made possible through support from North Ayrshire Council, BAE Systems, Caledonian MacBrayne, Booth Welsh and in-kind sponsorship from NPL Estates and Confida.

illumination Light, Fire and Aerial Art Spectacular tickets can be purchased via

For more information, visit


Issued on behalf of the Scottish Maritime Museum by

Joanna Harrison, Mobile: 07884 187404.



Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine and Dumbarton

  • Established in 1983, the Scottish Maritime Museum is a nationally recognised as the principal resource for material relating to Scottish Maritime history, in particular shipbuilding and marine engineering. 
  • The Scottish Maritime Museum is based on the Harbourside in Irvine, North Ayrshire, with a second display in Dumbarton.
  • The buildings and sites which the Scottish Maritime Museum occupies are part of the collection themselves: The Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine is housed within the Linthouse, the A listed former Engine Shop of Alexander Stephen and Sons which was built in 1872 and salvaged and relocated from their derelict Linthouse shipyard in Govan during 1991.
  • The Scottish Maritime Museum in Dumbarton is located on the site of the former innovative William Denny Shipyard and features the world’s first commercial ship model experiment tank, the Denny Ship Model Experiment Tank.

St Andrew’s Day

  • St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. A Galilean fisherman, he became an apostle of Jesus, and was known for being strong, sociable and fair, encouraging people to share what they had with those in need.
  • Originally St Andrew’s Day was a way for homesick Scots to get together and celebrate their shared ancestral roots. The official national day began in America on 30 November 1729 to offer support to Scottish migrants in distress.
  • Today St Andrew’s Day presents a powerful opportunity for Scots to keep the spirit of St Andrew alive, by coming together and helping others within their community.
  • There are many ways to get involved and celebrate Scotland’s cultural strengths and core values this St Andrew’s Day. A wide range of events will take place across Scotland from Friday 17th November until 3rd December and full details of these and ways to support local communities will be shared on from early November.
  • Wherever you are in the world, you can join Scotland in celebrating St Andrew’s Day – from the United States and Canada to Australia, from Beijing to Bangladesh. Those who want to learn more about the traditional celebrations are encouraged to visit
  • The Scotland’s Winter Festivals event fund is managed by EventScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.

2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology

  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology began on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017.  It builds on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017.