The New York City Tartan Week Grand Marshal is an incredibly exciting component of the parade! The Grand Marshal really sets the stage for the week of events and makes each year just as riveting as the last. As we gear up for the announcement of this year’s Grand Marshal
*cue frantic anticipation*, we’re taking a look back at some of our most memorable and marvelous GM’s. Keep reading to discover which stars have led us up 6th Avenue in years past, and ponder which might be to come…
Brian Cox, CBE (2020 & 2012)
Let’s start with our most recent Grand Marshal, actor Brian Cox. He actually took on the role both in 2020 and in 2012, the only of our past GM’s to have done double duty! Cox made his mark in the realm of Scottish culture having played roles in Rob Roy and Braveheart. You’ll probably recognize him from his award-winning performance on HBO’s Succession among other films and shows like Frasier, The Ring, X-Men, and the Bourne franchise. Brian Cox is also an acclaimed stage actor, having worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. We’re looking forward to seeing what he does next. *fingers crossed for a third round as our GM*
Sir Billy Connolly, CBE (2019)
Everyone who was at the 2019 parade seems to have their own Billy Connolly story, but we all agree that it was an absolute joy to be in his presence. The Big Yin (or “the Big One”, if you’re unfamiliar with his Scots nickname) is one of Scotland’s most cherished actors, comedians, and musicians. A few of his popular works are The Boondock Saints, The Last Samurai, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Brave, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. He’s not the only GM on our list to have starred in The Hobbit, but he is the only one to have done so and also be awarded a CBE. Most recently, he published a biography called Windswept and Interesting, which we can’t wait to pick up!
KT Tunstall (2018)
Who could forget that stunning tartan ensemble or impromptu performance at the after party? Musician KT Tunstall wowed us in 2018 and we’ve loved following her ever since! You’ve probably had some of her tunes stuck in your head, like “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See”, the latter of which has been featured in films and shows such as The Devil Wears Prada, Ugly Betty, and Grey’s Anatomy. Tunstall has won BRIT Awards for Best British Live Act, Best Breakthrough Act, and Best British Female Artist, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. She was just back in NYC at the very end of the year to perform in the New Year’s Eve Times Square ball drop celebration, in which she certainly captivated the streets of New York once again.
Sam Heughan (2016) and Graham McTavish (2015)
If you’ve watched Men in Kilts, you’ll know that Sam and Graham are two peas in a pod, so we’ve kept them together here. Having served as Grand Marshal back to back, with McTavish in 2015 and Heughan in 2016, in addition to starring in the mega hit Outlander, there doesn’t seem to be much that the two Scotsmen don’t do together. But, you might also recognize McTavish as Dwalin in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy (spoiler alert: he’s the very first dwarf that shows up at Bilbo’s door and informs the audience that the dwarves are, indeed, going to be very Scottish). As for Heughan, he recently released his whisky brand called Sassenach, which is certainly apropos to his most renowned role. The Outlander duo brought waves of fans to the parade in each of their respective years, demonstrating the full scope of their impact on Scottish culture.
Sir Sean Connery (2002)
This famous Scotsman needs absolutely no introduction! Academy Award-winning actor (and likely your favorite James Bond), Sir Sean Connery was one of our most treasured Grand Marshals. We don’t know about you, but for us, Sean Connery is James Bond, having originated the role in 1962. And we aren’t alone, here. Connery has been called “The Greatest Living Scot”, “Scotland’s Greatest Living National Treasure”, and let’s not forget “Sexiest Man Alive”.
Apart from Bond, Connery was also known for films like Murder on the Orient Express, The Man Who Would Be King, Highlander, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, The Rock, and Finding Forrester. He received the US Kennedy Center Honors lifetime achievement award in 1999 and was knighted in the 2000 New Year Honours. We were heartbroken to have lost him in 2020, but so incredibly grateful to be able to include him on this list.
Cliff Robertson (1999)
Finally, we just had to mention our very first Grand Marshal, Cliff Robertson. If you’re like me, you’ll recognize him first as the beloved Uncle Ben from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, but some of you might be familiar with his Academy Award-winning role in the film Charly. He also had a knack for portraying other famous men like John F. Kennedy, Buzz Aldrin, and Henry Ford. Though the NYC Tartan Day Parade has grown quite a bit since its modest beginning with Robertson at the head, we know that we couldn’t have gotten all the way up 6th Avenue today without his dedication to our Scottish American community!
We honor all of our fantastic Grand Marshals of the past and we can’t wait to see who will lead us in the future! About that…who do you think will fill the big tartan shoes next?
For a full list of our past Grand Marshals, click here.