Scottish cultural eventsCulture in Caledonia: Scotland’s best events
Scotland is a country traditionally known for its stunning scenery and malt whisky. Peer a little closer however, and you’ll find that there’s a whole lot more going on. From traditional annual sporting events like the Highland Games, to memorable pageants like the Edinburgh Tattoo, conducted against the backdrop of a floodlit Edinburgh Castle, the lure of Scotland is irresistible. Of course, one can’t discuss Scottish cultural events without mentioning the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, which takes place every August across 300 city venues. Whether you’re bound for Edinburgh, Glasgow or further north, you’ll never be far from the action – whatever the time of year.
Scotland is a small country, and as such it doesn’t require meticulous planning to fix a holiday there. Nevertheless, it’ll certainly be worth renting a property and hiring a car to visit historical sites and scenic hotspots outwith the two main cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Take a look at the HomeAway Holiday Rentals website and you’ll find hundreds of Scottish properties, in such coveted locations as the Orkney Isles, the golfing mecca of St Andrews and the cobbled sidewalks of Edinburgh. Before selecting an idyllic holiday home, cast your eyes over our rundown of the best events Scotland has to offer.
Top five Scottish events
T in the Park
If Edinburgh is the arts capital of Scotland, there’s little doubt that Kinrossshire - and more specifically Balado airfield - is its music capital. Scottish musical festival T in the Park has been held here since 1997, with some of the world’s biggest acts taking to the stage come rain or shine. Most festival goers will pack a tent, disposable camp chair, wellington boots and refreshing beverages, but you can also choose to rent private accommodation and travel to and from the venue on the day. You could even book a cosy cottage in which to recuperate post-weekend! Whatever you decide upon, prepare to embark on a weekend you will never forget - or possibly never remember, depending on how things pan out!
January 25th marks the celebration of the life of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns. A wave of patriotism sweeps over the country, as dinners, poetry recitals and ceilidhs get under way to commemorate the occasion. Enjoy a hearty Burns supper of haggis, neeps and tatties - accompanied by a fine dram of whisky - before enjoying song and dance well into the wee hours. Burns Night events are held up and down the country every January 25th, and range from informal gatherings of friends to ticketed banquets with processions of pipers and keynote speakers! The evening typically culminates with a resounding rendition of Auld Lang Syne. After all, everyone sings better after a few drams! Why not check out Robert Burns Birthplace Museum while staying in the Scottish borders?
Forget the Olympics – the Highland Games is a competition that truly separates the men from the boys. This fun event is steeped in history, as Scottish clans used to compete against each other in sporting events hundreds of years ago. Many of the main events in today’s Highland Games include items which would have had a practical use in times gone by - heavy stones from nearby river beds and Scots pine trunks for the caber-tossing, for example. The games make for a fun day out for all the family - expect food, drink and entertainment as well as sport - with events running throughout the summer months (May till September). Highland Games are held at various sites in the north of Scotland, with events including tug o’ war, Highland dancing and hammer throwing.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe - better known as The Fringe - is quite simply the most vibrant arts festival in the world. Visitors from around the globe arrive in the city to catch stand-up comedy, plays, exhibitions, book readings and concerts. There’s so much culture in the capital in August that the pavements overflow with street performers and promoters. Although Edinburgh can become crowded at this time, the convivial atmosphere and sense of community makes it the place to be in Scotland, as punters dredge the last of the summer sun out of the sky in thronged beer gardens across the city. The festival runs for four weeks and culminates with a spectacular fireworks display at Edinburgh Castle.
West Highland Way
Walking might not be your thing, but for the breathtaking scenery alone, visitors to Scotland should consider donning a backpack and slipping into their hiking boots for this 96-mile trek through the Scottish Highlands. Avid walkers travel from all over the world to tackle the hills of the West Highland Way, which begins in Milngavie in north Glasgow and ends in Fort William. While there are plenty of small B&Bs and hotels along the way, there are plenty of HomeAway properties to be found too - it typically takes four to five days to complete the route. You’ll witness some of the best mountain scenery and lochs in the whole of Scotland, particularly across the Mamores, but be sure to bring some insect repellant to keep those pesky midges at bay!