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Issue 19 - A summer of fun and festivals

Scotland Magazine Issue 19
March 2005


This article is 13 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

Copyright Scotland Magazine © 1999-2018. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.

A summer of fun and festivals

We all know about the Edinburgh festival, but what else has Scotland got to offer over the summer months? Andrew Ross reports

How many reasons can you think of for visiting Scotland this summer?

There’s the scenery and all that history, of course. Then there’s the sport: if you’re into golf, fishing, shooting, hiking and mountain-biking, then Scotland’s the place to be. Some people will visit for the cuisine, more for the whisky, but how many will number Scotland’s packed festival calendar as the main reason for a visit?

The Scottish festival scene is thriving just now, with events in all four corners of the country throughout the summer months. Edinburgh rightly deserves its reputation as Scotland’s festival capital but there’s so much more to see and do. From jazz to folk music, Shakespeare to Mendelssohn, theatre to film, there’s something for everyone.

April 28th-May 1st
Shetland Folk Festival
Lerwick, Shetland Isles
Tel: +44 (0)1595 694 757
This not-for-profit festival is held every year on picturesque Shetland and is a great place to sample the cream of contemporary and traditional folk music.

April 28th-May 2nd
The 18th Isle of Bute Jazz Festival
Rothesay, Isle of Bute
Tel: +44 (0)1700 502 151
The seaside resort of Rothesay plays host to one of the United Kingdom’s most popular jazz weekends. 2005 sees an improved five-day line up offering a wider range of jazz and blues.

April 29th-May 2nd
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival
Various venues, Moray & Speyside
This annual celebration of Scotland’s greatest export with events in the heart of whisky country. The four-day event includes distillery tours, tasting sessions and ceilidhs.

April 30th
The Beltane Fire Festival
Calton Hill, Edinburgh
This annual pagan ritual on Calton Hill celebrates the arrival of Summer. The dramatic evening offers an exuberant mix of fire, costume and drums.

April 30th-May 1st
Big in Falkirk
Callendar Park, Falkirk
This two-day street arts festival usually attracts large audiences to witness an array of outdoor theatre, international street arts, live music, comedy and children’s entertainment.

May 7th-15th
Aviemore Walking Festival 2005
Aveimore, Inverness-shire
One for the outdoor enthusiast and with walks suitable for all capabilities what better way to enjoy the dramatic scenery of the Cairngorm mountains.

May 13th-15th
The Word Festival
King’s College Campus, University of Aberdeen
Tel: +44 (0)1224 274 444
This three-day event attracts more than 6,000 visitors for readings, lectures, debates, music, art, exhibitions and film screenings by some of the finest Scottish and international artists.

May 19th-29th
Perth Festival of the Arts
Various venues, Perth
Tel: +44 (0)1738 472 706
Acts as varied as singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, author Ian Rankin and The Russian State Symphony Orchestra top the bill at this eclectic arts festival.

May 26th-29th
23rd Orkney Folk Festival
Various venues, Orkney Isles
Tel: +44 (0)1856 851 331
Folk music – but not as you know it. This internationally-renowned celebration of traditional and contemporary folk is as good as they come. Fans from around the globe come here to let their hair down.

June 2nd-5th
Angus Glens Walking Festival
Kirriemuir, Angus
Tel: +44 (0)1382 527 527
Knowledgeable guides lead a varied programme of walks focusing on the history, wildlife and culture of the region. A full programme of evening entertainment is also offered.

June 3rd-7th
Dundee Jazz Festival
Dundee Repertory Theatre
Tel: +44 (0)1382 223 530
Dundee’s Jazz Festival combines the best of local and international performers in this well-thought-of event. Students from the Dundee Jazz School are also given chance to shine.

June 3rd-12th
Highland Festival 2005
Various venues, Inverness
Tel: +44 (0)1463 711 112
Last year’s festival featured everything from Flamenco to massed pipes and drums. Expect more of the same in 2005 when Scotland’s most Northerly city comes to life.

June 10th-26th
West End Festival
Various venues, Glasgow
Rub shoulders with the locals in Glasgow’s cosmopolitan West End, enjoying a mix of theatre, music, exhibitions, film, markets and the showcase Midsummer Carnival (June 12th).

June 17th-22nd
St Magnus Festival
Kirkwall, Orkney
Tel: +44 (0)1856 871 445
This festival has grown into one of Britain’s most adventurous events, encompassing the best of drama, dance, literature and the visual arts, with a big community participation element.

June 17th-26th
Royal Bank Glasgow Jazz Festival
Various venues, Glasgow
Scotland has a thriving jazz scene and hosts some great festivals. This is one of the most comprehensive, covering traditional, blues, world, contemporary and free improvisation jazz.

June 22nd-23rd
Bard in the Botanics
Botanic Gardens, Glasgow
Tel: +44 (0)141 334 3995
Glasgow Repertory presents its contemporary interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays in this unique annual outdoor festival of Shakespeare. The Botanic Gardens forms an atmospheric back-drop.

June 25th-July 1st
Mendelssohn on Mull Festival
Mull and Iona, Western Isles
This festival, focusing on emerging musicians, commemorates Mendelssohn’s visit to Mull in 1829 and his resulting Hebridean overture inspired by the stunning local scenery.

July 13th-16th
Hebridean Celtic Festival
Lews Castle, Stornoway
Tel: +44 (0)1851 621 234
This has the deserved reputation as being one of the best Celtic festivals anywhere in the world. The dramatic setting takes some beating as does the sociable local welcome.

July 22nd-23rd
The Wickerman Festival
East Kirkcarswell, Dumfries and Galloway
Tel: +44 (0)1738 449 430
This is billed as ‘Scotland’s alternative festival’ and is renowned for its relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. It is perfect for the discerning music and cinema fan seeking that chilled-out vibe.

July 28th-31st
Speyfest 2005
Fochabers, Moray
Tel: +44 (0)1343 820 944
A pleasant antidote to all the city festivals, Speyfest is a famously sociable Celtic music festival offering visitors the chance mix with performers and locals alike.

July 29th-31st
Lomond Folk Festival
Balloch, Loch Lomond
Annual folk festival on the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond. This year the festival will feature concerts, ceillidhs, sessions and other traditional folk events.

July 30th-August 8th
Edinburgh International Jazz &
Blues Festival
Various venues, Edinburgh
The UK’s longest running jazz festival regularly attracts 50,000 attendees. The highlight of last year’s festival was the Mardi Gras parade in the city’s historic Grassmarket.

August 5th-27th
Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Castle
Tel: +44 (0)8707 555 118
This outdoor military spectacular, set against a stunning backdrop, is a must-see. This year’s highlights include the Massed Highland Dancers and the haunting sound of the Lone Piper.

August 7th-29th
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Various venues, Edinburgh
Tel: +44 (0)131 226 0026
The Fringe, set up as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, is the world’s largest celebration of the arts. Visitors will be hard-pushed to decipher what is part of the ‘Fringe’ and what is part of the ‘Festival’, so just go with the flow.

August 12th-13th
The Tartan Heart Festival
Belladrum Estate, by Beauly, Inverness-shire
Turn on, tune in and drop out at this off-the-beaten-track rock, celtic, country, blues and world music festival. The 19th century Italian Garden setting adds to the atmosphere.

August 13th-29th
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh
If literature is your thing don’t miss this. The world’s biggest book festival features a varied programme of discussions, readings, lectures, debates and workshops involving many leading authors from Scotland and abroad.

August 14th-September 4th
Edinburgh International Festival
Various venues, Edinburgh
The Edinburgh International Festival needs no introduction. Simply put, it is three weeks of the finest opera, theatre, music and dance and in one of the world’s great cities.

August 17th-28th
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Edinburgh Filmhouse
Coinciding with the International Festival, this is the longest continually-running film festival in the world. It features a very wide range of premières, retrospectives and discussions.

September 3rd
Braemar Highland Gathering
Braemar, Aberdeenshire
This is one of the most famous of all Highland Games, not least because The Queen is patron. There is always a royal guest present on the day, often Her Majesty herself.

September 11th-12th
The Battle of Bannockburn Stirling
Tel: +44 (0)871 221 9100
Hundreds of re-enactors from all over the world congregate at the site of the original battlefield to recreate Scotland’s greatest ever martial victory.

September 9th-11th
Borders Festival of Jazz & Blues
Hawick, Roxburghshire
Another jazz festival, this time a little more laid back than Glasgow’s or Edinburgh’s. Expect top class acts from the good time jazz and blues world playing intimate gigs in hotels, pubs, ballrooms and outdoor venues.

September 18th-24th (tbc)
The Taste of Mull & Iona Food Festival
Mull and Iona, Western Isles
The Festival is a week-long celebration of the islands’ diverse local produce with lots of opportunity to taste the best local fayre.

September 21st-25th
Merchant City Festival Glasgow
Glasgow’s multi-arts festival, featuring the best of Scottish art and entertainment, takes place in the city’s vibrant regenerated commercial quarter.