Knit power is inspiring people from across the world to visit the Highlands for an inaugural festival this weekend, with attendees from 19 different countries having already registered.
Research conducted by organisers of the Inverness Loch Ness International Knitting Festival shows that the event has already been successful in attracting new visitors to the area, with 40% of delegates who responded reporting their visit will be their first-ever trip to Inverness and the Highlands. Fifty per cent of respondents will be travelling to the Festival by air and 22% by rail.
The event, which takes place from 29 September - 2 October, is an innovative four-day festival for the international crafting community. With 40 intimate workshops, master-classes and presentations, those attending will get an opportunity to discuss the latest knitting trends.
The festival is one of a number of events being supported by VisitScotland through the EventScotland National Funding Programme, as part of work to deliver the national events strategy Scotland the Perfect Stage, receiving £15,000 funding.
The success of this event is also expected to have a positive impact on the local visitor economy. Almost 44% of attendees will be staying in a hotel and 30% will be staying in local B&Bs or guest houses. A hardy 5% plan to camp during their stay whilst the remaining registrants either live locally or are staying with friends. During their stay, visitors will also use local cafes, restaurants, shops and facilities.
Inspired by the hugely successful Danish Strikkefestival, this international knitting festival will be hosted by venues across the Highland capital, including the legendary location of neighbouring Loch Ness.
Drawing on the region’s rich cultural and crafting history, Inverness Loch Ness Knit Festival will see crafters come together during Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, in inspirational Scottish surroundings to network, shop and share knitting knowledge. Many stars of the knitting world will be present, including Chrissie Day, Christel Seyfarth, Alice Starmore, Vithard Vullumsen, Catherine Sclater, Di Gilpin, Nancy Marchant and Ruth Black.
Knitting has seen a global revival in popularity over recent years. Combining an exciting array of exhibitors with a fully flexible visitor experience, the Inverness Loch Ness Knit Fest offers attendees a chance to craft memorable moments amongst fellow makers.
Everyone involved or interested in the event was invited to get involved in the ‘Knit a Nessie’ challenge, as a nod to the area’s most famous resident. Knitting groups, youth clubs, schools and other organisations were all encouraged to get involved and the submitted Nessies were displayed on the Loch’s southern shore along with judge, Gary Campbell from the Official Loch Ness Fan Club.
Alan Rawlinson, Business Tourism Manager at VisitInvernessLochNess, said:
“We are accustomed to welcoming visitors from around the world to this beautiful part of Scotland and it’s a particular pleasure to welcome guests to our first-ever Inverness Loch Ness International Knitting Festival.
“This festival has grown from a tiny seed planted by our neighbour, Denmark, through a connection made more than a year ago on the island of Fanø. This weekend, that tendril, nurtured over several months, will blossom into a celebration of knitting bringing together hundreds of visitors from nearly 20 countries.
“A shared passion for knitting and for fibre arts and crafts has brought them here, and we hope that the time they spend with us will grow new friendships, nourish existing ones, and plant a seed for a return visit.
“All of the local businesses involved will offer the warmest of welcomes and we look forward to showing everyone the best of Highland hospitality.
Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Director, said:
“We are delighted there has already been so much interest in this event which, we would hope, could become an annual event on the crafting calendar in the Highlands.
“It has become apparent that knitting has again become an extremely popular pastime, a fact which is evidenced by these impressive figures.
“New and innovative events like this are a perfect for 2016 – Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design – and also give a very welcome boost to the local visitor economy at a time when the holiday season is coming to an end. The visitor economy causes a ripple effect that touches every industry, business and community in the country – from laundry services to life sciences.
“Events like this, as well as conferences, don’t just provide entertainment, they represent a multi-million pound opportunity to boost jobs as well as deliver cultural and social benefits.”
For more information, please visit www.lochnessknitfest.com