Dundee, Perth and Kinross, Angus and Fife councils are banding together in a bid to win the prestigious UK City of Culture 2025 award.
For the first time in history, the UK City of Culture competition is allowing groups of towns or areas to enter the competition together.
And the four council areas stretched along Scotland’s longest river have entered Tay Cities Region Expression of Interest, putting forward the best cultural attractions on offer on each side of the Tay.
The councils are working on the application alongside regional cultural trusts Leisure & Culture Dundee, Angus Alive, OnFife and the culture trusts of Perth & Kinross.
Here are some of the reasons we think our patch should take the cultural cake:
1. Museums and galleries for every curiosity
It’s been widely acknowledged that the 2018 opening of V&A Dundee put the city on the global map in a way it had never been before.
The first-ever museum of Scottish design has become a landmark of the ambitious Waterfront development, with Kengo Kuma’s building attracting more than 500,000 visitors to the city in its first year alone.
And as well as the V&A, the Tay Cities region has a wealth of smaller museums and galleries to suit every taste.
Just along the road stands The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum, chock full of historical art and artefacts; recently, the ornate museum made a splash by buying one of Ru Paul’s Drag Race star Ellie Diamond’s costumes for display, in its efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community in the region.
For history buffs, Kirkcaldy Galleries and Dundee’s Verdant Works offer expert accounts of the towns’ industrious pasts, and the Antarctic-voyaging RRS Discovery stands waiting to be discovered right on the river.
And the streets themselves are a gallery in this part of Scotland. With street art and murals taking off over the past few years, every corner has something interesting to offer.
2. The Sidlaws are alive with music… and theatre
The Tay Cities Region is a goldmine of small theatres, grand concert halls, and the kind of sticky-floor venues that make you feel like you’re in on the best kind of secret.
Big names have graced the stages of Fife’s Adam Smith and Alhambra theatres, Perth’s Concert Hall and Dundee’s Caird Hall, not to mention the times Dundee’s Slessor Gardens have been turned into a festival ground by acts such as Little Mix and Simple Minds.
The Twa Tams in Perth is alive with acoustic and jazz scenes, while Church Dundee hosts the best drag night around.
And it’s been a bumper year for theatre in the region, with the Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre launching its innovative Sound Stage digital platform, Pitlochry Festival Theatre hosting productions in its atmospheric outdoor amphitheatre, and St Andrews’ Byre Theatre getting involved in all sorts of weird and wonderful projects to keep culture alive throughout lockdown.
The Webster Memorial Theatre in Arbroath is the place to have your sides split, with a stonking line-up later this year of acts including TV-star comedian Jack Dee and renowned stand-up Jenny Eclair, showing the high calibre of entertainment in this seaside town.
3. Outdoor and heritage sites abound
Castles, stately homes, gardens both botanical and ornamental – the Tay Cities Region has got it all.
From historic Scone Palace in Perth, where the King of Scots was famously crowned, to the towering turrets of Glamis Castle, and everything from flower shows to Shakespeare going on in their grounds, you’re never stuck for a bit of royal flair around here.
For those looking for a fun family day out, the revamped House of Dun in Montrose offers stunning grounds, a heritage museum, and activities for little ones.
Dundee’s Botanical Gardens is a perfect day out for the green-fingered, or if growing isn’t your thing, St Andrews Cathedral and Arbroath Abbey both offer stunning seaside ruins that will transport you back a few centuries instead.
4. Up and coming cultural attractions
The Tay Cities Region recently benefited from the signing of the Tay Cities Deal, which will deliver more than £700 million to the region. In other words, this place is on the up!
Some exciting plans are already in the pipeline, such as Dundee’s Eden Project, which will incorporate the city’s industrial heritage by building on the site of the Old Gas Works, and turn it into something natural in the same way the Cornwall Eden Project has given new life to an old clay quarry.
5. Tay Cities breed talent
Andrew Carnegie, Dunfermline’s son for whom the famous Carnegie Halls are named. Ewan MacGregor, Hollywood’s sweetheart from Crieff. The View, Snow Patrol, The Associates – pop legends all formed in sunny Dundee.
The list goes on but the thing all these talented people have in common is their link to the Tay Cities Region. This is a place which fosters creativity and talent.
These humble towns are often pushed to the sidelines by their bigger, bolder brothers and sisters – Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
But the Tay Cities have a wealth and a tenacity of culture which makes this region a perfect candidate for the UK City of Culture 2025 award.
But, then, we would say that.