Scotland

2014: Scotland's big year

2014 is shaping up to be a milestone year in Scotland. The date for the independence referendum has now been announced as 18 September. It is a date which jostles with a number of other landmark events which will make next year memorable.

QUEEN'S BATON RELAY - 14 JUNE to 22 JULY

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Image caption Australian model Elle Macpherson with the Duke of Edinburgh at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games

The baton relay is the Commonwealth Games's version of the Olympic torch relay. However, the Commonwealth baton covers a far greater distance - 190,000 km - visiting all 71 nations who will be sending teams to the Glasgow 2014 games.

The relay begins at Buckingham Palace in October this year, where the Queen, who is head of the Commonwealth, places a message inside the baton - which will be carried around the world for seven months before arriving in the host country on 14 June.

The baton will travel around Scotland for 40 days before the games opening ceremony, where the Queen will read out her message.

The timetable for the Scottish leg of the baton relay will be revealed later in the year.

BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN 700th ANNIVERSARY - 24 to 30 JUNE

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In the words of Flower of Scotland, it was the battle in which the Scottish forces stood against "Proud Edward's army, And sent him homeward, To think again."

In June 1314, King Edward II brought the largest English army ever to invade Scotland.

Scottish king Robert the Bruce led his smaller force to a decisive victory at Bannockburn, near Stirling, and Edward narrowly escaped capture as he fled to Dunbar and the safety of a ship home.

The victory consolidated Scottish independence and Bruce's kingship.

It is often considered to be Scotland's greatest military victory.

Plans are being developed to celebrate the anniversary.

It is hoped a new multi-million pound visitor centre will open at the battle site in time for the 700th anniversary.

COMMONWEALTH GAMES - GLASGOW - 23 JULY to 3 AUGUST

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Glasgow 2014 will be the 20th version of the Commonwealth Games.

It will see 4,500 athletes from 71 nations and territories compete for 261 medals in 17 sports, held in 14 venues around Glasgow and beyond.

Hampden Stadium in Glasgow will be used for the track and field events, with the Emirates arena being used for badminton and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome for cycling.

The venues at the SECC, including the new Hydro arena, will play host to gymnastics, boxing, judo, wrestling, weightlifting and netball.

Squash and table tennis will take place in Scotstoun, swimming at Tollcross and lawn bowls at Kelvingrove.

Ibrox stadium will be used for the rugby sevens and Celtic Park will host the opening ceremony.

Outside Glasgow, the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh will host the diving, the Barry Buddon Centre in Angus will be the venue for the shooting and the triathlon will take place at Strathclyde Country Park in Lanarkshire.

INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM - 18 SEPTEMBER

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The Scottish independence referendum will be held on 18 September 2014.

Voters will be asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

First Minister Alex Salmond called it "a historic day when the people will decide Scotland's future".

RYDER CUP - GLENEAGLES - 26 to 28 SEPTEMBER

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Image caption Paul McGinley, the 2014 European Ryder Cup captain, in front of the Gleneagles Hotel venue.

It is arguably the biggest tournament in golf and one of the most anticipated events in sport.

Every two years 12 of the best golfers in the world compete against each other in two teams representing Europe and the USA.

In September, the three-day tournament arrives at Gleneagles in Perthshire.

It will not be back in the UK for at least a decade.

The other major events taking place in 2014 include:

European parliament elections

The next European Parliamentary elections are expected to be held on 22 to 25 May 2014, although the date has not been approved.

Scotland currently has six MEPs - two SNP, two Labour, one Conservative and one Lib Dem. They are voted for on a Scotland-wide basis and allocated by a proportional representation system.

12 June to 13 July - Football World Cup in Brazil

Is there a chance Scotland could make it? New manager Gordon Strachan has his work cut out to rescue the qualifying campaign.

It looks likely that this could one of the few major 2014 events without Scottish involvement.

4 August - The 100th anniversary of the start of World War One

A major anniversary which, of course, marks a historical event that had a profound impact on Scots and Scotland.

Commemorative events are planned throughout the year.

4 September - 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge

Although not as beloved as its iconic railway bridge neighbour, the road crossing from Edinburgh to Fife and back has played a major role in the life of the country for half a century.

Its existing role will come to an end in a few years with the completion of a new Forth crossing in 2016.

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