On the global trail

Sian Bevan
Communications & Community Support
Edinburgh City of Literature Trust

15 October 2021

City of Literature part of World’s first UNESCO trail

The world’s first ever UNESCO trail, bringing together some of Scotland’s most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites, has been launched today (Friday, 15 October, 2021).

Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, The Forth Bridge UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Site are among the 13 place-based designations included in Scotland’s UNESCO Trail which covers World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves, Global Geoparks and Creative Cities. It aims to take visitors on a cultural journey across the country experiencing everything from history to science, music, design and literature to nature and cityscapes.

Designed specifically to support ambitions to make Scotland a world-leading responsible tourism destination, Scotland’s UNESCO Trail encourages visitors to stay longer, visit all year round, explore more widely, and in turn, contribute to the sustainable quality of life of those communities surrounding the designated sites.

The digital trail – which is available here – showcases the breadth of culturally astounding UNESCO designations on offer across Scotland, providing information and inspiration to visitors across the world. Scotland’s UNESCO Trail also celebrates and priorities businesses and communities that are committed to responsible tourism business practices and promotes sustainable travel options.

Scotland is the first nation in the world to create such a pioneering initiative. Developed through a unique partnership between VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Historic Environment Scotland, NatureScot, the National Trust for Scotland, as well as Scotland’s 13 UNESCO designations, the project has received £360,000 funding from the Scottish Government to support the strategy for the sustainable recovery of Scottish tourism.

Tourism Minister Ivan McKee officially launched the trail today in Dundee, the UNESCO City of Design, by unveiling a specially commissioned design by illustrator and printmaker, Jagoda Sadowska, a graduate of the city’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. The design will feature on a door and will be incorporated into the city’s Open Close tour as a permanent legacy of the trail.

Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said

"Scotland has always been a pioneering nation and I’m pleased to see we’re leading the way with the world’s first UNESCO digital trail. Tourism is key to Scotland’s economy and as we begin to recover from the pandemic, this collaboration between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, NatureScot and UNESCO could not be more timely.

"Supported by £360,000 of Scottish Government funding, the UNESCO Trail will help to attract and welcome both domestic and international visitors again, by showcasing Scotland’s unique cultural heritage and many UNESCO sites. As we approach COP26, I’m pleased to see that the UNESCO trail has sustainability at its core and will help visitors make responsible and sustainable choices by highlighting green accredited businesses and promoting environmentally friendly travel."

Ali Bowden, Director, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said

"We’re so delighted to see the creation of the world’s first UNESCO trail, which showcases the best that Scotland has to offer. Here in Edinburgh we hope the trail will help locals and visitors discover the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, and our wealth of literary heritage. We are very proud of the literary community in Edinburgh and we hope the trail brings more people to the door of the city’s bookshops and literary attractions, and that people see Edinburgh afresh by walking in the footsteps of our many authors, poets and storytellers, whether virtually or in-person."

For those of you wondering where to start exploring Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature and all it has to offer, we asked some members of the literary community here in Edinburgh for their recommendations.

"We love Edinburgh's scrappy literary heart- we see it in Typewronger Bookshop's brilliant zine fair at Out Of The Blue Drill Hall, the Anarchist-Feminist Book Fair, as well as the new Push The Boat Out festival at Summerhall and our own Radical Book Fair (finally back at the Assembly Roxy this November!). All these events make a space to celebrate & uncover the city's vibrant indie scene. Edinburgh's zine makers, comics creators, and pamphlet poets often go on to become household names, but before all that you can go hunting for as-yet undiscovered genius on the shelves of places like Lighthouse and Deadhead in Southside, The Fruitmarket by Waverley, Good Vibes in Leith, Tollcross' Peanut Gallery or the new Blunt Knife Co. on Thistle Street.Sometimes before they are even in print, wordsmiths are performing at Kafe Kweer, Edinburgh's Lit Salon, Inky Fingers and the Scottish Storytelling center - so make sure you look out for this rich seam of the city!"

Booksellers, Lighthouse Books

"Edinburgh is home to the Scottish Storytelling Centre, the world’s first purpose-built Centre for the oral tradition of storytelling, based on the city’s Royal Mile. Storytelling is a literary artform which is alive and ‘off the page’, where the audience are engaged as an important part of the experience. There are a variety of events, exhibitions and workshops all year round, using storytelling and literature in many different ways and for all ages, not just children. The Centre is also the base for the Scottish International Storytelling Festival each October, which is a world leader in the artform. Storytelling also thrives across the city via the many excellent and varied walking tours which celebrate Edinburgh’s rich literary stories."

Daniel Abercrombie, Programme and Events Manager, Scottish Storytelling Festival

These recommendations are just a few suggested starting points for discovering the literary city here in Edinburgh - there are many more gems for you to uncover! You can explore more UNESCO sites in Edinburgh and across Scotland with Scotland's UNESCO trail here.