World record attempt at Castle Fraser

Property manager and event organiser Paula Swan
Property manager and event organiser Paula Swan

Castle Fraser wants to dance its way into the record books by attempting to stage the world’s largest strip the willow dance tomorrow (Saturday).

Staff at the National Trust for Scotland’s Castle Fraser Garden and Estate, near Sauchen, are planning to smash the world record and steal the title from the current record holders Edinburgh, where 1,914 dancers did a mass strip the willow during its new year celebrations to herald the advent of the Millennium.

The ambitious attempt will help the venue celebrate its 40th anniversary of being open to the public under the care of the National Trust for Scotland – and to be successful they need 2,000 people to turn up tomorrow and take part in the high intensity and fun social dance.

Outlander actor Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie Fraser in the hit series, has backed the castle’s bid, sharing details with his 361,000 Twitter followers.

Property manager and event organiser Paula Swan said: “The response we’ve had so far has been fantastic, but we want to be sure that as many people as possible join us in this fun and frenetic attempt to put the castle, and Aberdeenshire, on the world-recording breaking map.

“You don’t have to be a dancer, or know anything about Strip the Willow, as there will be a walk through beforehand. The record attempt will only take a matter of minutes and it will go ahead regardless of the weather so we ask that everyone turns up with appropriate footwear – as this on a grass field at the castle, walking boots and wellies will be fine.

“We’re in the heart of the North-east of Scotland and I think gaining this world record would be a great way to celebrate our 40th birthday with the help of the wider community. We really hope we can claim the title for Aberdeenshire – and have good fun while we are at it.”

The highly energetic social dance has been a long-time favourite birl at ceilidhs, weddings and functions across the country. Its name is thought to reflect the comparison of the dance to the stripping the bark from a willow branch, in that it curls round and round rather than coming off straight.

Another less widely held theory is that the name has emerged from Skip the Willow.

Anyone aged 10 and over is welcome to join in, and should simply turn up on the day and register from 12 noon to 1.30pm.

The record attempt will be at 2pm, with music supplied by ceilidh band Iron Broo.

There will be plenty to do and see, with a food marquee, bouncy castle, dancing demonstrations, pipe band and fiddler. The castle, café and shop will be open.

For more information contact castlefraser@nts.org.uk.