Tayside and Central Scotland

The Kelpies horse head sculptures lit up for sneak peek

Kelpies lit up Image copyright PA
Image caption The Kelpies each stand 30m tall and weigh 300 tonnes

A massive art installation at Falkirk has been lit up for the first time.

The Kelpies, two towering statues of horse heads, will open to the public after a night-time launch event.

A lighting test has provided a sneak peek of the two 300 tonne, 30m (100ft) tall sculptures in their prime.

Thousands are expected to attend the launch of artist Andy Scott's creations, which will feature light, sound and flames in a pyrotechnic spectacle next week.

The launch takes place on 17 and 18 April, and members of the public will have the chance to tour the structures from the following Monday.

The completion of the £5m sculptures just off the M9 motorway is a key milestone in the £43m Helix project, which is transforming 865 acres (350 hectares) of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth.

It is hoped the redevelopment will attract 350,000 visitors a year, bringing in £1.5m of extra tourism revenue.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The sculptures will open to the public after a pyrotechnic-laden night-time launch event

Glasgow artist Andy Scott took inspiration from Scotland's history of working horses which once pulled barges along the nearby Forth and Clyde Canal when he designed the steel structures.

They are named after the supernatural water horses of Celtic folklore, which transformed into beautiful women to lure men into traps.

'Major attraction'

The Kelpies event will double up as the launch of the John Muir Festival, a celebration of the work of the Dunbar-born conservationist.

VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay praised the "fantastic new landmark".

He said: "The Helix is set to be a major attraction in Scotland, bringing thousands of people - and real economic benefit - to the local community.

"The impressive Kelpies also offer a fitting tribute to Scotland's strong industrial past, as well as celebrating the myth and folklore that has encapsulated the imagination of visitors to Scotland for centuries."

The Kelpies have already helped Falkirk win one cultural award, with the town landing £150,000 in prize money at the Scottish Creative Place Awards in January.

And they have also won attention across the globe, with two 15ft scale models of the horses on show in New York City's Bryant Park since March.

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