THE largest festival of European traditional dance, costume and music has set its sights on Scotland for 2026.

With 6000 participants from across Europe, Europeade is an independent annual celebration of traditional dance held in a new city each year.

People involved in folk dance and music meet to showcase their regional traditional dances and cultures with the five-day programme including a ball, a festival parade, and a packed programme of dance performances held on several stages across the host city.

Rüdiger Hess, president of the Europeade International Committee, will be visiting Edinburgh in April to scope out a Scottish city to host the 61st edition for the Europeade in July 2026. This would be the first host opportunity for the UK in the six decades of the event’s history.

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The first ever Europeade was held in Antwerp in 1964, and in 2024 the event will take place in Nuoro, Sardinia from July 24 to 28.

Hess will be a guest of Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland and TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) during the Pomegranates Festival (April 25-30, 2024).

He said: "The long-lasting success of Europeade rests on the wealth of creativity and ethnic diversity in Europe, on our shared living traditions. I discovered Europeade for the first time in 1998 and was infected by the spirit of this great event from the start.

"After being asked to join the International Europeade Committee, I was elected President in 2018. Following the invitation of the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland and TRACS, I am looking forward to enticing over 6000 dancers from across Europe to bring their regional costumes, local traditional dances and music to a host city in Scotland, as well as connecting with all the Scottish and world trad dance groups practising in Scotland.

"We like to think of the Europeade host cities as the alternative European Capital of Culture. We do hope to find this new capital city in Scotland in 2026."

The National:

Steve Byrne, director of TRACS, said: “At TRACS we are always looking to build new international partnerships with like-minded organisations who celebrate local traditional cultures, and Europeade is a wonderful example of this. We are very excited to be working with the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland to bring the event to Scotland and the UK for the first time in 2026 and showcasing all that our own traditions have to offer.

"The 2026 event would be a welcoming gathering point for a huge range of cultural riches from across the European family, of which we still feel very much a part! We are especially pleased to welcome Rüdiger Hess to Scotland to experience the Pomegranates Festival this year and give him a flavour of how Scotland’s traditions engage with those from around the world.”

Established in 2022, Pomegranates is Scotland’s springtime festival of Scottish and international traditional dance.

It is curated and produced by the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland in partnership with TRACS, Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh City Libraries, Dance Base and the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

The festival - which celebrates Scottish traditional dance and traditional dance practised by cultural migrant communities across Scotland - aims to provide a platform to showcase new dance commissions and residencies.

Many performance are accompanied by live music, poetry, and art and invite audiences to participate in ceilidhs, workshops (both in person and live streamed), tours, and talks about traditional dance from Scotland and around the world.