A £150,000 fund has been set up to help community groups from Dumbarton mark a festival held to celebrate the area’s history and heritage.

Plunge In! The Coasts and Waters Community Fund has been established by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and offers grants from small pots for schools and youth groups all the way to £10,000 awards. Applications are now open for community-led ideas that will engage more people with Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters.

Smaller grants of up to £500 will also be available to allow young people to connect with nature by visiting one of Scotland’s many stunning national or local nature reserves.

Francesca Osowska, SNH chief executive, said: “As Scotland’s nature agency, we’re really excited about the Year of Coasts and Waters. There is so much to celebrate about our coastlines and waterways and we want to encourage and inspire people to explore and enjoy them as much as possible throughout this year and beyond.

“We know communities up and down the country will also want to celebrate the year in their own way, but we recognise that some might lack the resources to do so.”

Dumbarton Festival is a four-day event, which runs from June 4-7 as part of celebrations for Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

Representatives from West Dunbartonshire Council, The Dumbarton Castle Society and VisitScotland came together last week to officially launch the festival.

With the waterfront as a backdrop, artists and national companies will join local schools and community groups to reinvigorate the town’s maritime history.

The themes of build, float, and connect will run through the festival’s programme of activities for all ages, underlining Dumbarton’s history as a River Town.

During the event, residents and visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy pop-up opera from Scottish Opera, boat races, street theatre, live music, Hidden Dumbarton walks, and family games as well as a community parade to bring proceedings to a close on the Sunday afternoon.

The weekend will also mark the launch of a new Dumbarton Rowing Club on the River Leven, in partnership with charity Alternatives.

All of the items on the programme have been themed to tie in with Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, and will celebrate Dumbarton’s long-standing relationship with water as well as a range of tea-themed events paying tribute to Dumbarton’s ship-building heritage, including the Cutty Sark and clippers.

The popular Rock of Ages event at Dumbarton Castle will return for its sixth year, celebrating Vikings, longships and water-based activities. It will run during Dumbarton Festival on June 6 and 7.

Councillor Iain McLaren, convener of infrastructure, regeneration and economic development, said: “We are very proud to host Dumbarton Festival, and are looking forward to welcoming residents and visitors from near and far to enjoy such a range of fantastic events. The festival will showcase the very best our town has to offer and highlight our wonderful coastal and maritime heritage.”

“With under six months to go now until the festival kicks off, I think I speak for everybody when I say the excitement is really building and I hope everyone joins us in June to celebrate.”

Paul Neeson from the Castle Society, who chairs the Dumbarton Festival Planning Group, said: “The Festival Group has been planning this event since 2017, and the additional support from EventScotland will now enable us to deliver a really high quality event and reach audiences from further afield as well as help us reconnect with those living in other Dumbarton towns all over the world.

“We have many reasons to be proud of Dumbarton, including the recent regeneration of Levengrove Park, the Municipal buildings, the new council offices and renovated courthouse. The festival is the perfect way to showcase how we are regenerating the area and bringing our past together with our future.”

David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland regional director, added: “Alongside our wealth of wonderful attractions, scenery and wildlife, in 2020 Scotland will host an exciting array of both existing and brand new events set to put our coasts and waters in the spotlight.

“These celebrations will help to showcase our people, our places and indeed the country across the globe. Dumbarton Festival will be a great opportunity to honour how water has shaped the historic town through a range of exciting music, art and fun for all the family – definitely one to add to the new 2020 calendars!”

There will be opportunities for local organisations, businesses and groups to participate in the festival, with further details expected to be released later this month. For more information or to get in touch with organisers, visit dumbartonfestival.co.uk.

The Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 began on 1 January 2020 and will run until 31 December 2020.

Throughout the year, Scotland will celebrate its coasts and waters with a year-long programme of events and activities which will shine a spotlight on these vital elements of our landscape.

Applications for the fund will be open until February 28.

More information is available at nature.scot/plungeinfund.