Tayside and Central Scotland

Falkirk's year-old Kelpies set for millionth visitor

Image caption Local schoolchildren helped the Kelpies celebrate their first birthday

Nearly one million people have visited the Kelpies sculptures in Falkirk in the year since they opened to the public.

Andy Scott's towering horse heads were unveiled on 21 April last year, and have proved a popular visitor attraction.

Bosses at the Helix Park, which the statues are part of, expect to welcome their one millionth visitor this month.

Mr Scott said they had created an "almost tangible sense of civic pride".

The 30m (98ft) high sculptures were unveiled with a light and pyrotechnic show one year ago.

Up to 50,000 people have taken part in guided tours of the Kelpies, and they have won a number of design awards as well as being named "Scotland's national treasure" by the National Lottery.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Kelpies were lit up for their launch event last April

Artist Mr Scott said the public's response had been "very rewarding".

He said: "I am particularly pleased as it demonstrates the regenerative effect iconic public art can have, and it seems to have created an almost tangible sense of civic pride in the local area.

"Isn't it fantastic that in their first year almost a million people have come to the Helix to see the sculptures?

"It's a tremendous reward for me as the artist, and for all the many experts and specialists from across the UK who were involved in their creation, to see them receive so many visitors and be awarded so many accolades."

The launch of the Kelpies coincided with the opening of the John Muir Way, a 134-mile coast-to-coast trail through Falkirk and central Scotland named after the Scottish naturalist who was born on 21 April.

Image caption Sculptor Andy Scott said the Kelpies had helped build "civic pride" in the area

The Helix, a 350-hectare, £43m parkland project between Falkirk and Grangemouth, is operated by the Falkirk Community Trust.

General manager Neil Brown said the Kelpies had had a "fantastic year".

He said: "We have welcomed visitors from across the globe on guided tours to The Kelpies and once our visitor centre opens in October of this year, the site will be set to be more successful.

"But equally important is the repeat visits by the local Falkirk community who have really taken the Kelpies to their heart and have become very proud of this new facility."

To mark the one-year anniversary, a parade of local schoolchildren walked a section of the John Muir Way up to the Kelpies alongside a pair of Clydesdale horses, Duke and Dan, which were used as life models by Mr Scott.

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