THIS year's Scottish Borders Heritage Festival broke all records.

The 2017 event attracted almost 33,000 visitors during September, and brought an estimated £1.45million into the area - up from 20,517 in 2016 and 4,490 in 2015.

Celebrating heritage sites through light, music, storytelling, re-enactment, theatre and performance, the month long 2017 festival saw more than 200 events take place, bringing the unique and colourful history of the area alive.

Councillor Euan Jardine, spokesman for culture and sport at the local authority, said: “This year’s Heritage Festival was a fantastic celebration of this area’s history and it is no surprise that such a rich and varied events programme attracted a record number of visitors, and brought so many people in from outwith the Scottish Borders.

“The investment in the programme by the council, Live Borders and all the other partners has delivered a significant return which shows just how important our region’s history, heritage and archaeology is, and emphasises its year-round importance to tourism and the local economy.”

An economic impact survey has found that 32,919 visitors attended events, with 27 per cent coming from outwith the Scottish Borders.

The associated total visitor spend was £1.45m – a return of £16 for every £1 invested in this year’s festival.

Three quarters of visitors surveyed also rated the festival as either ‘very good’ or ‘good’.

The opening event of the festival, ‘Lighting the Borders’, highlighted the region's heritage sites to a national audience, through blue floodlighting of many iconic buildings.

In addition to events at heritage locations, 16 workshops with schools and communities took place as part of the festival, attracting more than 750 participants.

Scottish Borders Council and Live Borders delivered the 2017 festival, working alongside the newly formed Borders Heritage Forum to promote regional heritage and deliver a range of education and training elements.

Additional funding was also provided by Creative Scotland, EventScotland – as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology - and the Fallago Environment Fund.

During the course of the festival the membership of the Borders Heritage Forum increased to 36, with five training events provided for members, ranging from fundraising to website development.

The forum is a voluntary body that links a wide range of regional agencies, charities, societies, groups, government organisations and sites within the heritage sector and is open to all organisations and individuals who have an interest in heritage.

Ewan Jackson, chief executive of Live Borders, added: “Live Borders was delighted to play a positive role in developing the biggest and best programme of events for the Scottish Borders Heritage Festival to date.

“It is important that the increased interest and volunteer engagement in the Borders Heritage Forum that have come through the 2017 programme provides a momentum to build on the success of this year for years to come.”