Building Opens

The new Scottish Parliament building was officially opened on Saturday 9 October 2004 in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen. In her speech, The Queen described Holyrood as a "landmark for 21st century democracy".

The Opening Ceremony comprised three main events. The day began with a ceremony in Parliament Hall, followed by a "Riding" down the Royal Mile and concluded with the formal opening of the Parliament building by Her Majesty The Queen.

Parliament Hall was chosen as the location for the first stage of the Opening Ceremony because of its historical links with the Scottish Parliament. Parliament Hall housed the Scottish Parliament from 1639 until the Union of 1707. The twenty minute event here reflected the historic change in the Scottish political landscape over the past 300 years.

The Riding

A key element of the Opening Ceremony programme was the “Riding” down the Royal Mile to the new Holyrood Building. The Riding marked the centuries-old Scots tradition of the Scottish Parliament opening with a processional ceremony called the ‘Riding of the Parliament’. The Riding was first held in 1520 and was carried out for nearly 200 years.

1,000 people were involved in the Riding. It was interspersed with 16 colourful banners from Scotland’s eight regions. Each of the banners was made by different community groups across Scotland, two from each region. They displayed key words or a phrase and image that expressed the work or issues of the group.

Each group wrote about their ideas for their banners: Behind the Banners (747kb pdf)

Opening Ceremony

The formal opening of the building took place in Holyrood’s Debating Chamber, in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.

The programme included performances from BBC Young Musician of the Year 2004, Nicola Benedetti, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, singer-songwriter Eddi Reader, and Liz Lochhead, who read a poem penned by Scotland's poet laureate Edwin Morgan.

Detailed information about the Opening Ceremony is available in the Commemorative Programme (2MB pdf).

Who took part in the day?

Approximately 1,000 people took part in the day’s three main events:

  • 100 members of the public - including winners of the postcard competition and 48 people selected by public ballot.
  • 130 representatives from ‘public’ bodies – including school teachers and pupils, religious leaders and local authority representatives.
  • 330 representatives of civic Scotland – including local heroes nominated by MSPs
  • 260 MSPs and their chosen guests
  • 100 parliamentary figures - including Speakers and Presidents from Parliaments in the United Kingdom, Europe and the Commonwealth
  • 100 specially invited guests
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