From folk festivals to orchestral concerts, local art exhibitions to major international showcases, Scotland has a wealth of fantastic places to keep you and the family entertained during the winter months. During the Year of Natural Scotland 2013 there is a great programme of events taking place across the country, which celebrate Scotland’s beautiful landscapes and independence.
Venture into the mainland, where the streets of the coastal town of Stonehaven are spectacularly illuminated for the annual Fireballs Festival. Around 45 participants swing fireballs above their heads as they parade up and down the High Street, creating an impressive light display, to welcome in the New Year.
If you arrive in Kirkwall in the weeks leading up to Christmas you might wonder if the town is about to be besieged. Wooden barricades are erected to protect doors and windows as if from some sort of violent attack. The truth is that the barricades are put up to protect buildings from hundreds of bodies that surge through the streets in pursuit of a leather trophy; the ba’.
Kirkwall’s Ba’ games are held on Christmas and New Year’s Day, the games invite people of all backgrounds and ages to compete for the leather ball. What they have in common is a huge passion for the game. The tradition is very well supported and is a great social occasion for all who participate, whether as players or spectators.
A must see location has to be the well-known Loch Lomond. This spectacular area boasts a terrific selection of things to see and do; uncover the history by visiting an impressive mixture of castles, mountains, glens and lochs. There is a prominent arts and culture vibe with many local residents creating drawings, paintings and sculptures to represent the important wildlife and landscapes of this beautiful location.
While visiting Loch Lomond visit The Coach House Coffee Shop – this Les Routiers listed establishment is set in the centre of one of the most visited villages off the banks of Loch Lomond. Externally, The Coach House Coffee Shop looks like an older style venue but once inside, a new building with traditional style exposed beams and a rustic stone fireplace emerges. It’s a friendly stop-off, offering light refreshments and substantial meals.
Travel south and head towards East Lothian, where you will find The Saltire Festival. Musselburgh Racecourse is the venue for the Saltire race day on Friday 29th November and the following day the Saltire Farmer’s Market in Haddington – a great opportunity for everyone to pick up classic St Andrews Day dishes, sample Cullen Skink and watch cookery demonstrations. A special concert is planned at The Brunton Hall for the Saturday night followed by a Scottish Music and Literature Concert where the ceremony will begin with riders bringing the Saltire Flag from the church at Athelstaneford. The Saltire 2013 event will take place at various locations in East Lothian from Wednesday 27th November through to Sunday 1st December.
Besides the festivities along Edinburgh’s coast and countryside, Scotland is a great place to visit in the winter; with stunning beaches and rolling hills, top visitor attractions, welcoming towns and villages, excellent accommodation and a focus on good food and drink – you are guaranteed a warm welcome.