Media Release: Island festival puts spotlight on historic buildings


THE seaside town of Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, will dazzle this weekend as plays host to its first Festival of Light.

The two-day Millport Festival of Light (Friday 23 and Saturday 24 September 2016) aims to celebrate two little-known historic buildings on the island as part of Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design: Garrison House, built to house revenue agents tackling smugglers on the Clyde, and The Cathedral of the Isles, Britain’s smallest cathedral, with a nave that seats just 80 people.  

The festival will see both buildings lit to dramatic effect, with a sound and light show projected onto the walls of Garrison House.

Spectators can also follow a ‘heritage light trail’ of installations created by local artists and volunteers, and enjoy the island’s traditional fireworks display and bonfire-in-the-bay.

Organiser, Gill Miller, said: “Both Garrison House and The Cathedral of the Isles are beautiful buildings with significant architectural merit, the latter being designed by the renowned Gothic Revival architect, William Butterfield.

“It’s fantastic to be able to shine a literal light on them so that locals and visitors alike can learn more about their fascinating history.

“The light installations that we have created were a great chance for adults and kids alike to get involved and be creative. What they have come up with is really fun – we have a ghost walk in the Cathedral grounds, a field of LED flowers created out of recycled materials, and even a pond of neon ducks.”

Annique Armstrong, VisitScotland regional director for Ayrshire and Arran, said:

“The 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design gives us an opportunity to put Scotland on the map in a new and exciting way, catching the attention of visitors old and new, positioning Scotland as a mix of traditional and cutting-edge at the same time.

“We are delighted to be supporting the first Festival of Light as part of Scotland’s themed year celebrations.

“People often come to Scotland for the history but also leave inspired by the modern and contemporary – both of which are being showcased through a fantastic programme of event activity, designed to appeal to both the Cumbrae community and visitors to the area.”

Millport Festival of Light will kick off with the illumination of The Cathedral of the Isles on the evening of Friday 23 September, with all other attractions taking place from 8pm on Saturday 24 September.

The event is free to attend thanks to the support of Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

For more information, please visit


For media enquiries please contact Kate Newton on 07500 808 361 or email

Notes to editors:

About Garrison House

Millport owes its origins in the 1700s to the people who attempted to smuggle contraband into the Clyde and to those who tried to stop them. Garrison House in Millport was built in 1745 as the residence of the Captain and officers of the Revenue Sailing Ship the ‘Royal George’. Stationed at Millport, The Royal George played a key role in the Revenue’s ‘hot pursuit’ of smugglers.

Throughout the 19th century various amendments were made to the original Garrison House, which is an excellent example of early 19th century gothic battlement architecture.

In 1908, the arts and crafts architect Robert Weir Schultz remodelled both the house and gardens, including the sunken garden to the front of the house. It is one of the few examples of the architect’s work in Scotland and has significant historical merit.

Following a major fire in 2001, the building then sadly became a derelict eyesore. However, the community stepped in and, in 2008, celebrated the opening of Garrison House following a two-year restoration project of this landmark building.

The end result is a complete transformation providing a vibrant hub of activities in Millport for locals and visitors alike. Garrison House now boasts the local GP surgery, a state-of-the-art Library, the Museum of the Cumbraes, the Garrison Café, North Ayrshire local council services office and rooms available for community use.

The building itself has been remodelled over two floors. The historic exterior of the house has been refurbished and the stonework completely restored. The interior has been opened up to create a modern facility, making full use of light and space.

About The Cathedral of The Isles

The Cathedral of The Isles, Millport, is Britain’s – some say Europe’s – smallest Cathedral. The Cathedral and the adjacent College of the Holy Spirit were built in 1849 on the principles of the Oxford Movement, and were designed by Gothic Revival architect, William Butterfield, one of the greatest architects of the 19th century.

Planned as a theological college for the Scottish Episcopal Church, in its early days it was seen as a ‘new’ Iona, and in 1876 it was consecrated Cathedral of the Isles.

The interior is animated by dramatic proportions, vivid tiles designed by Butterfield, and stained glass by the famous firm of John Hardman & Company.

2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design started on 1 January 2016 and will end on 31 December 2016. It will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an ‘innovation nation’, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally-acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

MEDIA RELEASE issued by Millport Festival of Light. You too can share your stories (aka press or media releases), on Email here for more information.

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Millport Festival of Light contact details…

Contact: Kate Newton
Phone: 07500808361