Is there a city with a richer Scottish heritage than Alexandria? See for yourself this Saturday, when more than 100 clans and pipe-and-drum bands and their canine companions march through Old Town along with Scottish dancers, reenactment groups and, of course, Santa Claus.
This show of Scottish pride would hardly be complete without a tasting of Scottish ales and a wee glass or two of single-malt whisky. You can quench your thirst at The Taste of Scotland, taking place this evening, as part of the Scottish Walk Christmas Weekend.
"Scotland bonds of kinship and friendship with the USA are deep and strong,” Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said. “The Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend in Alexandria is a great opportunity to showcase Scotland's vibrant culture and rich heritage - a heritage that is shared with millions of Americans.
There is an early admission beginning at 7:00 p.m. called the Patron Hour. This will feature Scottish fare and a complete top-shelf tasting menu, including various rare Scotches. The remainder of the evening, beginning at 8 p.m., will feature a limited Scotch selection and bourbon tasting as well as beer, wine and light cuisine.
The Taste of Scotland (attended by nearly 500 guests in 2010, including the Lord Provost of Dundee, Scotland) will take place at the iconic George Washington Masonic Memorial, 101 Callahan Drive, Alexandria. For ticket information, go to http://www.scottishchristmaswalk.com/events.html.
The Scottish beers on the menu include:
Fraoch Heather Ale, brewed in Scotland since 2000 BC, might be the oldest style of ale still produced in the world. Into the boiling bree of malted barley, sweet gale and heather blossoms are added. After cooling slightly the hot ale is poured into a vat of fresh heather flowers where it sits for an hour before being fermented. This ancient herbal ale, brewed by Williams Brothers Brewing Company of Scotland, measures 5.00% alcohol by volume and is a favorite of the ladies. Several other Williams brothers beers will be served, including Joker IPA, Midnight Sun English Porter and an alcoholic ginger beer measuring 3.8 percent by volume.
The Orkney Brewery in Quoyloo, Scotland, once again, will contribute its Orkney Skullsplitter, a strong Scotch ale known as a wee heavy, clocking in at a rousing 8.50 % alcohol by volume.
If your stomach begins to grumble on parade day, you might consider making a stop at event sponsor Red Rocks Pizza (904 King St.) for a Scottish beer tasting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Red Rocks has ten drafts, featuring a variety of styles from such respected craft breweries as Allagash, Bell's, Duck-Rabbit, Dogfish Head, Stone, and Brooklyn. Their 25 bottle and can selection is quite respectable, with a few Trappist beers among the selections. The margherita pizza has a good reputation and the ingredients are fresh and cooked to perfection. At press time they did not have a Scottish beer tasting menu available; the staff was just recovering from a Port City tap takeover the night before. Red Rocks is located less than a mile from Pizzeria Paradiso, another excellent stop for a post-parade pub crawl.
Consistently ranked by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the Top 20 events in the South, Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and Parade is a benefit for The Campagna Center and draws nearly 30,000 individuals and families. Tourists travel from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region to participate in this celebrated community event. Along with this year’s premier sponsor The Scottish Government (http://www.scotland.org), The St. Andrew's Society of Washington, D.C. (http://www.saintandrewsociety.org) is partnering with the city of Alexandria to sponsor the annual parade.
“The Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend is a great tradition which celebrates Scotland’s rich cultural heritage – a heritage shared with millions of Americans – and helps raise money for The Campagna Center,” said Robin Naysmith, Scottish Government Counsellor – North America. “Whether it’s enjoying Scottish food and Scotch Whisky at the Taste of Scotland reception or the sounds of the traditional pipes and drums at the parade, there is something for everyone at the Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend.”
This year’s Grand Marshal is The Honorable Patsy Ticer. The parade route (http://www.scottishchristmaswalk.com/docs/Parade-Tour-Map.pdf) begins at the corner of Wilkes and South Saint Asaph Streets in Old Town and ending at King and Royal Streets. Don’t miss the massed band concert that takes place at King and Royal Streets in front of City Hall at Market Square immediately following the parade.
"Events like the Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend are a fantastic way for the entire family to learn more about Scotland and what our country has to offer. Whether it's enjoying Scottish food and drink at the Taste of Scotland reception or the sounds of the traditional pipes and drums at the Parade, there will be something for everyone to enjoy over the weekend. I'm very much looking forward to joining this year'scelebrations, and I hope all those attending will be inspired to visit Scotland, whether it be for business or pleasure, in the future," Hyslop said.
As part of the weekend long event, the Designer Tour of Homes on Dec. 3 will provide a stroll through six lovely Alexandria properties dressed up for the holidays by acclaimed interior designers and local florists. Tour will be held rain or shine and tickets are required and are non-refundable. No pets or children under the age of 12 are permitted on the tour. For detailed information and photos of the homes go to:
Advance purchase tickets are $30 and day-of purchase $35 (may also be purchased at homes). Purchase Home Tour Tickets here: https://www.srscampagnacenter.org/online/.
For more information on the long tradition of community service provided by the Campagna Center, including their work that serves more than 1, 700 families daily with programs like Alexandria Head Start and Early Head start, visit http://www.campagnacenter.org.