Scotland is famous for its celebrations. The wonderful alternative take on New Year’s Eve, Hogmanay, is legendary. Whisky is worth a celebration and the Scottish know it’s too big a deal to be confined to a single weekend, so the whole month of May is devoted to the most revered of liquors. This is just for starters too. Read on to learn about other national events happening across Scotland each year.
Pour yourself a wee dram, May is whisky month. There are so many distilleries in Scotland that you could probably fill the Firth of Clyde with their annual output. There is a comprehensive programme of events celebrating the countries love affair with the ‘water of life.’ So, why not join in the merriment with our packed calendar of excellent events throughout the month, including whisky festivals, tastings and more.
The Royal Highland Show
Taking place adjacent to Edinburgh Airport, the Royal Highland Show includes an impressive music schedule featuring over 500 performers, BMX stunt bikers, bagpipes, games, animals galore, a traditional marquee packed with locally produced goods, and caber tossing. It also boasts a gymkhana, chainsaw carving demonstrations, a climbing wall, falconry sessions and agricultural awards for ‘best in show’ breeds.
St Andrew’s golf week
Golf is perhaps Scotland’s most loved export after whisky and The Proclaimers. The golf courses in St Andrews are amongst the country’s best known too. The famous and the not-so-famous all gather for a few rounds of this grand sport. However, there’s plenty to see in and around St Andrews beyond the golf courses so guests are in for a treat no matter when they decide to visit.
The Edinburgh Film Festival
Every summer, Edinburgh hosts one of the most diverse and interesting programmes of international films at the city’s many cinemas. Big blockbusters jostle for attention with the best independent films. Directors and actors make personal appearances to champion a personal project with a programme of Q+As or workshops. The public are also invited, so be quick on the draw to acquire tickets because they get snapped up very quickly.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Each August, Edinburgh gets tipped upside down for the Fringe Festival which is the place to be seen if you have a play, poetry reading or a dance piece that you are bursting to show people. Future stars are found at some of the showcases and talent agents are out in force to try and find the next Lee Evans or Eddie Izzard, so prolific are the stand-up comedy events. There’s no limit to the amount of talent you need. If you have the energy to promote your show and rent a space people can get to, you’re official. You never know what you are going to get at the Fringe Festival, all you can guarantee is that you will go home having had a unique, weird, bewitching and wonderful experience.
Bonfire Night and Hogmanay
Thinking of spending Bonfire Night in Scotland this November? Not many people celebrate Fireworks Night with quiet as much vigour as the Scots.
Also known as Guy Fawkes Nights after the gunpowder plot of 1605 to blow the Houses of Parliament and King James I sky high, the annual Bonfire Night on the 5th of November celebrates the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ arrest by burning effigies of him on the top of bonfires. And there is no better place to celebrate his skullduggery than the marvelous region of Scotland.
Scotland is also famous for Hogmanay, which is the same as New Year’s Eve celebrations, only Scottish style. The word Hogmanay symbolises the end of the current year in Scotland back in the 1600s. A town crier would wander the streets and people would come out of their houses to ‘see out the old, and bring in the new’. Hogmanay has some unique traditions like that of the ‘first footer’. The ‘first footer’ is the first person to step through your front door after the bells for midnight toll. Tradition states that it must be a tall, dark, stranger bearing gifts of shortbread, coal and whisky. The rules these days are bent and it’s often a family member or friend that’s invited to be the ‘first footer’.
The best place to celebrate Hogmanay/New Year’s Eve in Scotland is the capital, Edinburgh. Its festival is outstanding with fireworks, firing castle cannons and live music acts taking centre stage. Do a pub crawl down Rose Street, or the midnight countdown by the Royal Mile – it’ll be a new year’s celebration to remember for sure.
For a Hogmanay celebration with a difference, journey to Stonehaven for the Fireball Festival, where locals swing flaming fireballs around and above their heads before throwing them into the ocean. It’s a tribute to old Viking traditions. Crowds of 12,000 make the trip to see this awesome display each year.
Every year, on the 25th of January, Scots and wannabe-Scots come together across the globe to pay tribute to the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Burns Suppers consist of feasts, including the famous Scottish recipe of haggis, neeps and tatties, while there is musical entertainment, ceilidh dances and many other unique celebrations of the Scottish Bard. Click here for a close look at five of 2018’s most unique events.
One of Scotland’s greatest sporting traditions brings together athletic events including the tug o’war, the caber toss and many more. The games, which are around 1,000 years old, are a spectacle like no other, truly encompassing the meaning of “Scottishness”. Take a read of our Ultimate Highland Games Guide for a more in-depth look.
Ignite Dundee Festival
Boswell Book Festival
Islay Festival of Music & Malt
Orkney Folk Festival
Festival of the Sea (Oban)
Festival of Architecture
Glasgow Science Festival
Glasgow Jazz Week
St Kilda Challenge (yachting)