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Linlithgow's Medieval Pageant Unveiled

22 April 2009

Knights to escort King James IV and his queen to palace joust.

Full details have been unveiled for one of the biggest-ever weekends of visitor events at Linlithgow Palace.

Party at the Palace, a key part of the national Homecoming celebrations, takes place on 23 and 24 May and will be an extravaganza of entertainment and fun based round events at Scotland’s royal court in 1503.

It was a year in which Scotland celebrated the marriage of King James IV to Margaret Tudor and the signing of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with England.

Each day will start with a magnificent horseback procession in which a cavalcade of up to 10 mounted knights in armour will escort King James and his new queen along Linlithgow High Street to the palace.

They will be accompanied by dozens of courtiers and the followers of four great noble families whose champions will then take part in spectacular jousting.

Nick Finnigan, Historic Scotland events and filming manager, said: “We hope this will be a truly memorable weekend full of medieval colour and spectacle – and will recall the days when Scotland’s kings and queens were frequent visitors to their great palace in Linlithgow.

“This is one of the largest events Historic Scotland has ever staged and will include more than 120 costumed performers.

“There will be lots to do and see with jesters, poets, storytellers, musicians, dancers, falconers and cooks filling the palace.

“There will even be an alchemist trying to turn ordinary metals into gold, and an etiquette tutor who will teach young visitors what to do and say if they bump into the king and queen.”

And there’s every chance of that happening as James introduces his bride to her subjects and they walk the grounds and watch the tournament held in their honour.

Marie Christie, director of Homecoming Scotland 2009, said: “Historic Scotland are an important partner to the national Homecoming celebrations.  

“Party at the Palace is based on a period of significant historical importance and looks set to be a fantastic fun-filled weekend of education and entertainment for all ages.  

“We are delighted that this event is part of the national Homecoming celebrations.”

There will be two sessions of horseback jousting each day, plus a display of falconry.

The outdoor activities will come to a climax each afternoon when up to 80 foot warriors will gather in the main arena and do battle to decide which great clan will be the tournament champions.

The clans fighting it out will be the:

● Campbells

● Lindsays

● Douglases

● Hamiltons

All were powerful and influential in the early 16th century, and constantly struggling for supremacy and doing all they could to gain royal favour.

Each clan will have its own tented camp where visitors can meet the nobles, soldiers and their followers and discover what life would have been like in 1503.

Inside the palace children will be able to help bakers knead the dough for fresh bread to be served to the king and queen when they arrive for a meal.

Another special feature will be that the King’s Fountain, a 5m tall masterpiece of Renaissance architecture located in the palace courtyard, will be made to flow.

  • Small flags will be available on the day with the coats of arms of each clan taking part in the tournament so visitors can show who they support.

  • Party at the Palace is part of Historic Scotland’s contribution to the Scottish Government’s 2009 Year of Homecoming and is part-funded by Homecoming Scotland 2009.

Notes for editors

Estimated timings:

  • Parade starts – 12.30pm from Low Port Centre, along the High Street to the palace.

  • Jousting – 1.15pm and 3pm.

  • Foot tournament – 4pm.

  • King touring the palace from around 2pm to 3pm.

  • All other activities will be running throughout the afternoon from 12.30pm to 5pm.

  • Tickets for the Party at the Palace are adults £12.00, concession £9.50, children £6.00. There is a 10% online booking discount. Family tickets also available. There is a 50% discount available for Historic Scotland members. For further details visit

  • The King’s Fountain, probably Britain’s oldest working fountain, was among the most elaborate of its time. It flows out of eight spouts which are set into carved figures of mythical beasts including a griffin and a giant. It suffered repeated damage over the centuries including from Covenanters who saw it as a symbol of the Popish splendour. Restoration work, which began in 2003, was carried out by Historic Scotland using traditional stone and the skills of some of the UK’s finest stonemasons.

  • Linlithgow Palace is in Linlithgow off the M9. Telephone 01506 842896. Usual ticket prices are £5.20 for adults, £4.20 concessions and £2.60 for children.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

Homecoming Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative managed by EventScotland, the national events agency, in partnership with VisitScotland, the country's national tourism agency.

Robert Burns is the inspiration for Homecoming Scotland as 2009 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s national poet.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871