We have so many memories of Scotland and to be honest have probably seen more of the country than we’ve seen of Ireland. It’s the family connections, the party trips to Glasgow and Edinburgh, the University days, the trips to IKEA and driving home with a packed car, and a 5 month stint working on the Mull of Kintyre, and lets not forget the one and only ski trip to a very snowy and cold Aviemore, oh, the drive up to see the Loch Ness Monster, all good times.. very good!
So when we received this press release about Scotland’s Winter Festivals, it just reminded us of the Scottish trips and how it was about time we headed back for a wee trip.
Maybe it’ll help you go the same?
Here’s the press release which triggered a lifetime of memories.
Scotland’s Winter Festivals – a three month season of celebrations starting with Scotland’s National Day, St. Andrew’s Day on November 30 and includes Christmas, Hogmanay and Burns Night. Scotland’s Winter Festivals will give visitors from Northern Ireland the opportunity to enjoy some of the most spectacular cultural festivities and events ever staged in the Year of Creative Scotland 2012.
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “Winter is a particularly exciting time for visitors to Scotland. Starting with St. Andrew’s Day celebrations, Scotland has planned a three month extravaganza which includes some wonderful Christmas treats, our lavish and internationally renowned Hogmanay celebrations as well as a mass of events in tribute and celebration of Scotland’s national poet – Robert Burns.
“From sparkling Christmas fun, street theatre and legendary street parties to torchlight processions, fireworks and live music, Scotland is ready to give a very warm welcome to visitors from across Northern Ireland and beyond to enjoy the very best of Scotland’s culture.”
To celebrate St. Andrew’s Day, Glasgow will host events throughout the weekend of November 30 including a film event and concert, outdoor ceilidh and live cookery demonstrations as well as arts and crafts, storytelling and street theatre.
Scotland’s Winter Festivals will also see Edinburgh host a variety of markets including a Traditional German Christmas Market; Traditional Highland Village Christmas Market; The Real Scottish Christmas Fair; The Ethical Christmas Fair; and Edinburgh’s Farmers Markets throughout December while Princes Street Gardens in the city will be home to The Big Wheel and Ice Rinks for everyone to enjoy.
Scotland is also home to some of the most magical winter experiences for children including the chance to visit the UK’s only free roaming reindeer herd at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, and having the chance to see Walker and Arktos, the UK’s only pair of polar bears at the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie in the Scottish Highlands.
To help visitors plan and enjoy as much as possible, visitor attractions and cultural organisations across the country will also be taking part in Visit for Free – an initiative allowing people to enjoy free access or discounted tickets on the weekend of 30 November – 2 December. For other Christmas events and information on Scotland’s Winter Festivals and to book your trip to Scotland please visit www.visitscotland.com/surprise
For a full list of Scotland’s Winter Festival events please visit www.scotland.org
Winter Festivals 2012 Events Programme
St. Andrews Festival, St. Andrews
22 November – 2 December
St Andrews Festival begins with the first professional performance of MacPherson’s Rant, which received support as part of the inaugural Creative Places Awards. The Festival will culminate with a spectacular selection of events over the St Andrews weekend, including a Gala Dinner, Fife Young Fiddlers, John Knox’s Pulpit, Torchlight Parade, Fireworks Display, an outdoor Ceilidh, Scottish Concert, Scottish Community Drama productions and a Food Festival.
The Saltire 2012, East Lothian
24 November – 2 December
The Saltire event celebrates East Lothian as the Home of the Scottish Flag over a four day programme including a Flag celebration, music and literature events, a ceilidh, education events in schools, food events and a Farmers Market. The event, created for Homecoming in 2009, highlights East Lothian as the “Birthplace of the Saltire” and aims to bring additional visitors to East Lothian in the winter months.
See the UK’s only pair of polar bears
Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie, Scottish Highlands
From 12 November (10.00 – 16.00)
Walker and Arktos, are the UK’s only polar bears in a public zoo and are now in one of the largest polar bear enclosures in Europe, set in over four acres of land and with two viewing areas and drive through viewing access.
Adult £13.50, child £10 (aged 2 and under free)
Glasgow Loves Christmas – Glasgow on Ice, Glasgow
24 November – 6 January
Skate under the stars in the heart of the city in Glasgow’s open air ice rink. George Square is resplendent in the glow of its spectacular Christmas Lights, and after skating, visitors can warm up, chill out and enjoy a well-deserved snack in the cosy Winter Cafe, then soak up the atmosphere of the Square, which is also the setting for a fantastic programme of free entertainment.
From £8 per adult, £6 per child, £29 per family (2 adults, 3 children) off peak, £10 per adult, £8 per child and £33 per family peak.
Traditional German Christmas Market, Mound Precinct, Edinburgh
29 November – 24 December
Christmas markets have been a tradition since medieval times and Edinburgh’s German Christmas Market is provided by stallholders based in Frankfurt. The popular market is back as always, selling a mix of classic and contemporary gifts as well as a range of German food and drink ideal for warming up the chilly bits. Tasty delights include hearty sausages, fried potato cakes, crepes and German beer, as well as the now famous Glühwein.
Traditional Highland Village Christmas Market, East Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
29 November –6 January
From Arran cheddar truckles to woolly hats and tarot readings, this market is eclectic, vibrant and fun. Scottish produce is on sale from a range of food producers and retailers including venison burgers from Well Hung and Tender, as well as candles, cheese and quirky clothes. Beneath the Edinburgh Wheel and above the ice rink, the location of this market makes a superb setting for Christmas browsing.
Scotland Sings, Across Scotland
30 November – 2 December
Hands Up for Trad presents Scotland Sings, a brand new national event designed to bring new participants and audiences together through a series of community singing events that will strive to remove social, economic and cultural barriers to participation and attendance. There will be five high profile events in Edinburgh, Paisley, Perth and Dundee as well as smaller events taking place across the country.
St Andrews Celebrations and Hogmanay, Glasgow
30 November – 2 January
As part of the overall Glasgow Loves Christmas campaign, the city will host events in celebration of both St Andrews Day and Hogmanay. Enjoy events throughout the St Andrews Day weekend including a film event and concert, outdoor ceilidh and live cookery demonstrations as well as arts and crafts, storytelling and street theatre. Hogmanayday encourages the whole family to celebrate the last day of the year with music, food, and fun as well as ceilidh before the bells.
Visit the UK’s only free roaming reindeer herd and Santa’s Bothy at Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, Aviemore, Scottish Highlands
Every weekend in December until Christmas (10.00 – 16.00)
The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd is Britain’s only herd of reindeer, found free ranging in the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland. These tame and friendly animals are a joy to all who come and see them. Decorate Santa’s sleigh and Christmas tree, leave a letter for Santa in the reindeer postbox and visit the elves’ house. Santa and his elves welcome any children to their Grotto between 13.00 and 15.00.
Prepare a team of Sleddogs for a mountain expedition at Cairngorm Sleddog Centre, Aviemore, Scottish Highlands
The Cairngorm Sleddog Centre is the only daily working sleddog centre in the UK and one of only five in Europe. The centre is home to 30 sleddogs from all over the world, with regular daytime and evening experiences available where visitors can get hands on with the dogs before heading out into a remote Highland forest.
Leadhills Railway – Santa in Scotland’s Highest Villages, South Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway
1 and 2 December
In conjunction with the Scottish Museum of Lead Mining, enjoy a railway journey before meeting Santa. A joint ticket includes a ride on the train, a tour of “Santa’s Dispatch Point” and a visit to Santa at the Museum along with a gift for visiting children. Places are limited to 250.
The Real Scottish Christmas Fair, Castle Street, Edinburgh
1 – 6 December
Scottish traditional and contemporary music, samples, tastings, information, innovation and inspiration! Hot food and drinks available throughout and plenty of tempting Christmas shopping.
30 December – 2 January
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is one of Scotland’s flagship festivals, delivering significant economic and media impacts. It showcases Edinburgh’s cultural vitality and rich heritage on the world stage whilst promoting Scotland as an all year round visitor destination and the Home of Hogmanay. The programme begins Torchlight Procession and ends with New Years Day Triathlon, Loony Dook and Your Lucky Day with the famous Street Party and Hogmanay Celebrations on 31 December at its centre.
The Ethical Christmas Fair, Castle Street, Edinburgh
8 – 16 December
Enjoy a Christmas that won’t cost the earth. With everything from eco-gadgets to Fairtrade chocolate, this market is guaranteed to make your Christmas greener than ever. Ethical and sustainable gifts, decorations and jewellery sit side by side with food and drink including curries, honey and plenty of sampling.
Hogmanay Celebrations in the Honest Toun, Musselburgh, East Lothian
Musselburgh welcomes the whole family to celebrate the last day of 2012 with a programme of Scottish themed entertainment at Brunton Theatre. Activities include storytelling, designing your own tartan, step dancing, drumming and interactive story/singalong events. In the early evening there will be a lantern procession through the town that will culminate in a fireworks display and ceilidh.
Open Air in the Square, Aberdeenshire
31 December to 1 January
Open Air in the Square is a fringe programme of events running alongside the Stonehaven Hogmanay Fireball Celebrations. During the day there will be various family friendly events and in the evening look forward to a music concert headlined by Red Hot Chilli Pipers with the Fireball events shown on big screens in the event arena.
Winter Festivals at the Scottish Storytelling Festival, Edinburgh
31 December – 24 January
The Scottish Storytelling festival will celebrate all three of Scotland’s National Days beginning with inclusion in the Scotland Sings Activity (see above). Hogmanay will welcome an informative and fun take on Macbeth by Andy Cannon and Wee Stories as well as other events featuring the storytelling group ‘Mac-A-Story’ and Jack Martin’s puppet show. In January, the Centre will welcome guests to a Supper with Burns, a 3 course meal and Burns song and stories, as well as events for children.
Celtic Connections, Glasgow
19 January – 5 February
Celtic Connections has grown over the last fifteen years from a single venue event to an 18-day festival with over 250 events and 1500 musicians coming together to celebrate the rich culture of Scotland. The festival celebrates traditional Scottish music as well as featuring some of the most prominent names in roots and world music. With diverse and ambitious programming, Celtic Connections brings in visitors from around the world and plays an integral and vibrant role in cultural life in Glasgow.
Big Burns Supper, Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway
25 – 28 January
Big Burns Supper is Dumfries’ newest festival of contemporary arts providing an annual platform for quality production and artistic ambition. The programme consists of two significant outdoor shows, a speigeltent providing a creative hub for the festival with live performances as well as various community and additional activity taking place in 60 venues across Dumfries.
The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award, South Ayrshire
This unique event marks the important humanitarian work of Robert Burns with a prestigious Award Ceremony to hounour an individual or group who has saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through personal self-sacrifice, selfless service, ‘hands on’ charitable/volunteer work, or other acts. Winners receive the equivalent of 1759 guineas – a sum which signifies the year of the Bard’s birth and the coinage then in circulation – as well as a specially commissioned hand-crafted award.
Burns Unbound, Edinburgh & South Lanarkshire
26 – 27 January
Release your inner bard at the National Museum of Scotland and the National Museum of Rural Life over the weekend of 26 and 27 January. Join celebrity hosts to celebrate the life and work of our national bard by attempting to beat the world record for a mass recital of Burns. Explore the museum collections to discover more and look out for activities, performances and workshops for all the family taking place around the museum galleries at both sites.
Big Burns Supper, Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway
25 – 27 January
Big Burns Supper is Dumfries’ newest festival of contemporary arts providing an annual platform for quality production and artistic ambition. The programme consists of a poetry slam, 10 minute Burns Suppers, a speigeltent providing a creative hub for the festival with live performances from acts such as Deacon Blue and Eddi Reader across venues throughout Dumfries.
Burns Unbound, National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh and South Lanarkshire
26 – 27 January
Release your inner bard at the National Museum of Scotland and the National Museum of Rural Life over the weekend of 26 and 27 January. Join celebrity hosts to celebrate the life and work of Scotland’s national bard by attempting to beat the world record for a mass recital of Burns. Explore the museum collections and look out for activities, performances and workshops for all the family taking place around the museum galleries at both sites.
Standard admission applies at National Museum of Rural life. £6.50 per adult, £3 per child, £17 per family ticket (2 adults, 2 children). Free entry at the National Museum of Scotland.
Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway 1759, Ayrshire
Alloway 1759 takes place in and around Burns Cottage and the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum where the streets will be lined with costumed characters and performers to create a unique atmosphere. Enjoy a wide variety of events including horse and cart trips, haggis hurling, The Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra, Burns Childrens’ Party, Hoots Owls, and Willie Stewart singing songs of Burns.
Standard admission applies. £8 per adult, £6 per child, £20 per family (2 adults, 2 children)