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Issue 92 - Your Events & Festivals guide

Scotland Magazine Issue 92
April 2017


This article is 21 months 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.

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Your Events & Festivals guide

Our pick of the best Scottish events, Highland games and festivals


Highland Perthshire Cycling Festival
03 – 11 May 2017
Various venues, Perthshire
A week-long celebration of cycling with a packed programme of guided mountain bike and road rides, evening rides, school events, family fun and evening entertainment starting with the Dunkeld Enduro: a 58km off-road ride around the scenic village of Dunkeld. It's a lovely route, but you must be fairly fit!

Gordon Castle Highland Games
20 – 21 May 2017
Gordon Castle, Fochabers, Moray
Originally founded during the Edwardian period and once drawing as many as 30,000 spectators, the Gordon Castle Highland Games were re-established in 2011 after a long hiatus and have become of the country’s best.
This year the games will have a vintage theme, with the 10,000 expected guests encouraged to dress in period clothing to evoke the games’ early 20th Century glory years.

The Orkney Folk Festival
25 – 28 May 2017
Various venues, Orkney
Showcasing a whole host of folk music acts from Orkney, mainland Scotland, England, the USA and Canada, this lively festival is now in its 35th year and has developed a stellar reputation with visitors from across the globe.

Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival
26 May – 04 June 2017
Various venues, Dumfries & Galloway
Established in 1979 and now Scotland’s largest rural multi-artform festival, more than 170 artists perform at over 80 events across more than 40 venues in a programme of drama, dance, arts, literature, and music including jazz, traditional, contemporary, and world artists.

The Islay Festival of Music and Malt
26 May – 03 June 2017
Various venues, Isle of Islay
Featuring a diverse programme of events including traditional music concerts, ceilidhs,

Gaelic lessons, golf, bowling, poetry recitals,
and whisky tastings, the Fèis Ìle (as it is know by its proper name) delivers a true island
welcome and an experience that won’t be forgotten quickly!

Hooley in the Highlands
27 May 2017
Strathpeffer Pavillion, Strathpeffer, Easter Ross
This popular annual country music festival will feature a packed line-up throughout the day including Johnny Brady & Band, Nicky James & State of the Heart, Jacob Carter, George McIntosh, and the Stephen Smyth Duo.

Blackford Highland Games
27 May 2017
Games Park, Blackford, Perthshire
Held since 1870, this year the Blackford Highland Games will play host to the 2017 Scottish Tug o’ War Championships. All the usual events will also be in evidence such as caber tossing, dancing, and athletics.

Spring Fling
27 – 29 May
Various venues, Dumfries & Galloway
A vibrant visual art and craft open studios event covering the length and breath of Dumfries and Galloway offering the chance to discover more about local artists. The festival offers a complementary programme of music and arts performances.

Carmunnock Highland Games
28 May 2017
Playing Field, Carmunnock, Glasgow
With a beautiful setting in Glasgow’s last conservation village, these games are famous for being focussed on the ‘heavy’ strongman events such as atlas stones, stone putt, caber toss, farmer’s walk, and swingle tree. Don’t know what they are? Go along and find out!

Whisky Mash Festival
28 May 2017
Douglas Hotel, Aberdeen
Love whisky? At the Whisky Mash Festival over

30 whisky exhibitors, from the well-established to new independent bottlers, will come together and offer opportunities to sample their drams across two sessions.


Oban Live
2 – 3 June 2017
Mossfield Stadium, Oban, Argyll
The biggest live music event in Argyll and Bute, Oban Live was created after a 10th anniversary celebration of the trad-fusion band Skerryvore drew 6000 people to Oban in 2015. Such was the impact of the event that it has become an annual fixture with a line-up of the very best Scottish and international artists.

Cornhill Highland Games
3 June 2017
Cornhill Playing Field, Cornhill, Aberdeenshire
A traditional Highland Games including track and field, stalls, and a fully licensed bar.

Helensburgh & Lomond Highland Games
3 June 2017
Rugby Ground, Helensburgh, Argyll
Tracing its roots back to 1889, these games are unusual in that they are associated with two clans, not one: the Colquhouns and the MacAulays. As a result, the clans’ respective chiefs take turns to act as Games Chieftain. These games have become a regular competition for the best heavies in the UK, so expect impressive caber and shot putt performances.

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup
03 – 04 June 2017
Fort William, Lochaber
Returning once again to this iconic location, this event has become one of the most cherished in the annual downhill mountain biking calendar. Voters have deemed it to be the best event in the UCI Downhill calendar several times, most recently in 2016, on account of its course, large crowds, unique atmosphere and watertight organisation.

Markinch Highland games
4 June 2017
John Dixon Park, Markinch, Fife
An action packed day of Highland dancing, solo piping, drum majors, hammer throwing, shot putting, caber tossing and more. There’s even children’s fun races, a fairground and plenty of side shows and trade stalls.

Cupar Highland Games
10 June 2017
Duffus Park, Cupar
The Cupar Highland Games are in a popular minority of purely amateur games in Scotland. However, this hasn’t restricted the wide variety of competition categories, which include road and arena cycle races, pipe band contest, tug o’ war and heavy events.

Glasgow Science Festival
8 – 18 June 2017
Various venues, Glasgow
Returning in 2017 with the theme ‘Glasgow Explores!’ this annual science festival brings memorable events to non-traditional venues in a celebration of Glasgow’s contribution to the world of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine.

The Crail Food Festival
10 – 11 June 2017
Various venues, Crail, Fife
Featuring music events, evening dinners, indoor and outdoor markets, this festival has good local food at its heart. Enjoy sampling from taster plates, cookery demonstrations and talks, meet the producers and discover the very best of Scottish produce.

Bearsden & Milngavie Highland Games
10 June 2017
West of Scotland Football Club, Milngavie, East Dumbartonshire
Alongside the more traditional events one would expect at a Highland Games, there
are some more unusual ones such as the
World Haggis Hurling Championships, a
variety of jelly-themed events under the umbrella of the ‘Jellympics’ and a Great Highland Bake Off.

Strathmore Highland Games
11 June 2017
Glamis Castle, Strathmore, Angus
Taking place in the beautiful and historic grounds of the famous Glamis Castle, the Strathmore Highland Games include all the events one would expect alongside Scottish food and drink stalls and kids activity areas.
The Selkirk Common Riding
12 – 16 June 2017
Various venues, Selkirk, Scottish Borders
With a history stretching back at least 400 years, the Common Riding harks back to when the Burgh Lawmen were charged with securing the town’s common lands. Today there is a mass riding, various ceremonies and a
two-day celebration.

Edinburgh International Film Festival
21 June – 2 July
Various venues, Edinburgh
Committed to showcasing the most exciting, original and challenging new films and promising new talent. The festival explores new ideas in cinema and invites local and international audiences to engage with a dynamic programme of fiction and documentary work.

Royal Highland Show
22 – 25 June 2017
Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh
Founded in 1822, Scotland’s annual farming and countryside showcase attracts over 1000 exhibitors, 4,500 head of livestock and around 190,000 visitors. Attendees look on as exhibited livestock compete for grand prizes in various categories, while a huge trader village celebrates the best Scottish food and drink.

Piping at Forres
The European Pipe Band Championships
24 June 2017
Grant Park, Forres, Moray
One of the greatest gatherings of pipe players. Witness a spectacle of colour and musical prowess as pipe bands come together from all over Scotland and the world to compete across a number of grades and four arenas.

Drumtochty Highland Games
24 June 2017
Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire
Known as the friendliest Highland Games in the area, the Drumtochty Highland games are held in the grounds of the picturesque Drumtochty Castle, near Auchenblae. Go along and watch athletes of all ages try to break some records!

The East Neuk Festival
28 June – 02 July 2017
Various venues, East Neuk of Fife
Focussing primarily on classical chamber music, there are also numerous world, jazz, folk, and electronica performances alongside films, exhibitions, art installations, literature events and guided walks.
Scottish Game Fair
30 June – 2 July 2017
Scone Palace, Perth
This celebration of rural Scotland offers a packed programme of main events, ‘have a go’ activities and shopping from over 450 traders, while showcasing Scottish game, wildlife and countryside management.


The Skye Festival (Fèis An Eilein)
04 July – 25 August 2017
Various venues, Isle of Skye
Running over two months, this summer arts festival celebrates Skye’s island culture with a packed schedule of performing arts and traditional Scottish music. Other events include charity cafes, art exhibitions, theatre, ceilidhs, and environmental days.

Stonehaven Folk Festival
06 – 09 July 2017
Various venues, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
A showcase of traditional and contemporary folk music with concerts, a ceilidh, sessions, singarounds, workshops, the World Paper’n’Comb Championships and an ‘Aqua Ceilidh’ — a ceilidh in an open air swimming pool. Yes, really!

The Angus Accordion and Fiddle Festival
07 – 09 July
Various venues, Arbroath, Angus
The brainchild of Steven Carcary and Ron Ramsay, who came up with the idea on the way back from the Shetland Festival in 2001, this is a celebration of, you guessed it, accordion and fiddle music. The festival features a number
of dances and concerts across various venues in Arbroath.

08 – 16 July
Various venues, Unst, Shetland Islands
Britain’s most northerly festival takes place on the remote Isle of Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland Islands. It is a family friendly event with numerous attractions such as film screenings, storytelling, talks and workshops.

Lochcarron Highland Games
15 July 2017
Attadale Estate, Wester Ross
Lochcarron Highland Games feature the traditional mixture of heavy and track and field competitions, alongside highland dancing and piping demonstrations. Entry to the secluded Attadale Garden is free on the date of the games, offering an opportunity for tranquil reflection in a lush environment to break up the excitement of a jam-packed day.

Music at Paxton
14 – 23 July 2017
Paxton House, Scottish Borders
Founded in 2006, this ten-day summer festival is a showcase of chamber music that includes performances by musicians from across the globe. Held in the resplendent neo-Palladian surroundings of Paxton House, many of the concerts take place in its stunning and intimate Picture Gallery, which seats 140.

Inveraray Highland Games
18 July 2017
Castle Grounds, Inverary, Argyll
A pipe band parade opens this day of
Highland celebration. Replete with displays of athletic prowess, the Inveraray Highland Games take place in the delightful grounds of Inveraray Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll and Chief of Clan Campbell.

Hebcelt (The Hebridean Celtic Festival)
19 – 22 July 2017
Various venues, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
With its main arena nestled in the grounds of the historic Lews Castle in Stornoway, on the remote Isle of Lewis, visitors couldn’t ask for a more picturesque festival setting. Expect a line-up of world-class Celtic acts across three stages in the main arena and even more shows elsewhere on the Island.

St Andrews Highland Games
30 July 2017
Station Park, St Andrews, Fife
A relative newcomer to the Highland Games scene, the St Andrews event was only established in 1984 but makes up for its relative youth by delivering a well-attended and exuberant event replete with all the usual trappings of a quality Highland Games.


The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
04 – 28 August 2017
Various venues, Edinburgh
The single largest celebration of arts and culture on the planet, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival boasts over 50,000 performances, more than 3200 shows, and nearly 300 participating venues. There's barely a square inch of the city that's not playing host to some sort of display, as the festival permeates every nook and cranny of Scotland’s capital.

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival
03 – 05 August 2017
Belladrum, Inverness-shire
Now in its 13th year, this festival is well established as one of Scotland’s leading music festivals. Famous for its family-friendly, carnival-style atmosphere, it regularly attracts well-known names from the indie, folk and pop scene to its idyllic setting of the Belladrum Estate near Inverness.

Foodies Festival
04 – 06 August 2017
Inverleith Park, Edinburgh
Now in its 11th year, Foodies is Scotland’s largest food festival and offers attendees the chance to meet some of the world’s top chefs, watch cookery demonstrations in the Chef’s Theatre, and sample a huge range of delectable treats in the Street Food Avenue. Not only an opportunity for fun, but also a chance to learn more about cooking!

Edinburgh International Festival
4 – 28 August 2017
Various venues, Edinburgh
Bringing world-class arts to the capital since 1947, the EIF sets the standard for classical concerts, opera, dance and theatre, with performers drawn from around the world. It’s success is built on an uncompromising commitment to virtuosity and originality, inviting some of the finest creators and performers from across the globe.

Iron Age Artisan Village: Celts, Crannogs and Crafts
5 – 6 August
The Scottish Crannog Centre, Kenmore, Perthshire
A ‘village’ full of artisan workers will descend on the Crannog to demonstrate various aspects of Iron Age Celtic culture such as cooking, metalworking, basket making and much more. Items made on site will be available for purchase along with other handcrafted
one-off pieces.

World Pipe Band Championships
11 August 2017
Glasgow Green, Glasgow
A unique celebration of Scottish culture featuring outstanding musicians who have honed their piping skills to the highest level. Associated with Glasgow for nearly 70 years, The Worlds (as the competition is known) attracts the very best pipe bands from
across the globe and is a spectacle that’s
not to be missed.

Doune the Rabbit Hole
18 – 20 August 2017
Cardross Estate, Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire
An intimate, independent music and arts festival located amidst the glorious ancient oak trees of the Cardross Estate. Alongside a pick of Scotland’s musical talent are a number of workshops for kids and adults alike, crafts, art exhibitions, and local food stalls.

Blair Castle Equi-Trek International Horse Trials & Country Fair
24 – 27 August 2017
Blair Castle, Perthshire
A true haven for lovers of all things equestrian, the Blair Horse Trials are a world renowned test of horse riding skill in a variety of disciplines such as showjumping and dressage. Aside from the competitive events, there are also other shows and a country fair exhibiting the finest Scottish and country produce.


Spirit of Speyside: Distilled
01 – 02 September 2017
Elgin Town Hall, Elgin, Moray
Some of the world’s best whisky distillers are united under one roof, on their own doorstep, for a second year. But that’s not all. Speyside’s whisky distillers are accompanied by local brewers, gin crafters, and food producers for an event that’s guaranteed to give visitors a real taste of what the region has to offer.

The Braemar Gathering
02 September 2017
Memorial Park, Braemar, Aberdeenshire
One of Scotland’s most famous Highland Games events, the Braemar Gathering can trace its history back to 1832 and is regularly attended by members of the Royal Family. It is a firm favourite of HM The Queen, who has attended almost every year since 1952.

Largs Viking Festival
02 – 10 September 2017
Largs, North Ayrshire
Founded in the 1980s, the festival began as a small celebration to commemorate the Battle of Largs (1263), when Scottish and Norwegian forces clashed as part of the King of Norway’s attempt to reassert Norwegian rule over Western Scotland. A recreated Viking village and mock battles take place to teach visitors about the Viking way of life.

Highland Military Tattoo
08 – 10 September 2017
Fort George, Ardersier, Inverness-shire
An incredible display of Highland and military culture and traditions, the Highland Military Tattoo takes place against the backdrop of the UK’s largest 18th Century military fort. Expect a programme of traditional and contemporary acts including military bands, massed pipes and drums, flypasts and a fireworks display.
Best of the West Festival
08 – 10 September 2017
Inveraray Castle, Argyll
Music and food lovers from the world over gather to celebrate the very best in Scottish music, food and drink. All under canvas, a line-up of 21 Traditional and Folk music acts will perform across three stages. I superb West Coast experience that's not to be missed.

The Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival
15 – 17 September 2017
Various venues, Isle of Islay
A lively and high quality series of events that showcase the best of Scottish and international jazz music, all enjoyed in the unique and beautiful setting of the remote Isle of Islay. Also expect a taste of Islay produce such as hand-dived scallops, crab, chocolate, homemaking and, of course, the island’s famously peaty (and delicious) single malt whisky!
The Nairn Book & Arts Festival
12 – 17 September 2017
Various venues, Nairn, Highlands
The ancient fishing port of Nairn is abuzz with a whole host of events celebrating Scotland’s literary and artistic heritage across the ages. Perfect for people who love books, music, drama and art. The festival’s ‘Kids Day’
also offers a range of indoor and outdoor activities for children.

World Stone Skimming Championships
24 September 2017
Easdale Island, Argyll
Held on the Inner Hebrides’ smallest permanently inhabited island, Easdale, the World Stone Skimming Championships see 350 competitors battle it out for the grand title. A pre-skim party takes place on the evening before in the Community Hall.

Wigtown Book Festival
22 September – 01 October 2017
Various venues, Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway
A famous 10-day celebration in Scotland’s national book town that attracts world-class authors from across the globe, the Wigtown Book Festival is every bibliophile’s dream. With over 170 events for both adults and children you’ll soon lose yourself in a literary world with the most quaint of settings.

Shetland Wool Week
23 September – 01 October 2017
Various venues, Shetland
Shetland’s textile industry comes together in a celebration of the natural fibre that made its knitwear famous. Expect masterclasses, workshops and events led by wool experts, alongside demonstrations of weaving,
spinning, dyeing, Dire isle and lace
knitting, and much more.


The Mackintosh Festival
01 – 31 October 2017
Various venues, Glasgow
October becomes ‘Mackintosh month’ as visitors and locals alike are invited to enjoy a programme of events in Glasgow Mackintosh venues with a focus on architecture, design, visual arts and crafts in the city where he
lived and worked.

Scottish International Storytelling Festival
20 – 31 October 2017
Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh
The pre-eminent celebration of live storytelling in Scotland, this festival attracts a number of respected storytellers from Scotland and abroad. Attendees can expect performances, workshops, talks and children’s events that are sure to stimulate the imagination.

Tweed Valley Forest Festival
21 – 29 October 2017
Tweed Valley Forest Park, Scottish Borders
This vibrant celebration of the rich woodland and culture of the Scottish Borders takes place across a number of locations around the beautiful Tweed Valley. Highlights include the Scottish Conker Championships, Carvefest, the Peebles Wood Market, woodland walks, workshops, and more.

26 October – 12 November 2017
Various venues, Aberdeen
Soundfestival invites you on a journey of discovery, exploring new music which challenges and crosses the boundaries of contemporary classical, electro-acoustic, improvised, experimental and jazz. Featuring a packed programme of concerts in both iconic halls and intimate spaces across the city.

Dundee Science Festival
28 October – 12 November 2017
Various venues, Dundee
A celebration of science offering exciting events for all ages covering everything from fossils to forensics. Expect talks and exhibitions, animals, jewellery, lasers, art, medicine, and even computer games.
Samhain, Spooks and Sacrifice
31 October 2017
Scottish Crannog Centre, Kenmore, Perthshire
The famous recreated Iron Age village and loch dwelling that is the Scottish Crannog Centre brings an end to its season by marking the Celtic celebration of Samhain
the predecessor to Halloween. Expect fireside storytelling, the burning of a sacrificial wicker ram, apple-ducking and maybe a few spooky surprises!


Glasgow’s Whisky Festival
11 November 2017
Hampden Park, Glasgow
More than 50 whisky stands offer fans of Scotland’s national drink the opportunity to sample their favourite drams and meet fellow enthusiasts. Further stands offer whisky-related art, books, food, and more.

Scots Fiddle Festival
17 – 19 2017
Summerhall, Edinburgh
A weekend packed full of great events: concerts, workshops, talks, recitals, stalls, sessions, and ceilidhs that are perfect for fiddle players and listeners of all ages!

Dundee Mountain Film Festival
23 – 25 November 2017
Various venues, Dundee
The UK’s longest continuously running mountain film festival and each year delivers a packed programme talks and mountaineering-focussed film screenings.

Scone Palace Christmas Fair
27 November – 28 November
Scone Palace, Perth
Enjoy browsing around the Christmas stalls set throughout the historic palace’s resplendent State Rooms. Expect many stalls laden with wonderful gifts, cards, decorations and speciality foods, all of which have been specially selected for their originality, quality and craftsmanship.

Kinross-shire’s Winter Festival
25 November – 10 January
Various venues, Kinross-shire
A mix of family fun including pantomimes, music, street markets, carol singing, fairs, Christmas grottos, concerts, theatre, food and drink events, and more.


Cromarty Film Festival
01 – 03 December 2017
Various venues, Cromarty, Moray
Wrap up warm, gather round the fire, pour yourself a whisky and prepare for a film festival like no other. With films being projected on just about any available surface (a lighthouse, for example) and screenings of old favourites, Scottish-content and historical films. It’s all around good fun. Cannes, eat your heart out!

Edinburgh’s Christmas
December 2017
Various venues, Edinburgh City Centre
Markets, fairground rides, shows and other events fill the centre of Edinburgh with festive cheer. Taking over much of Princes Street Gardens, George Street and the surrounding area, Edinburgh’s Christmas offers a day of fun for the family and evening entertainment too. Expect market stalls, live music, a huge fairground with rides, hot festive food, and plenty of Christmas cheer!

The Red Hot Highland Fling
31 December 2017
Northern Meeting Park, Inverness
Scotland’s biggest and most spectacular FREE Hogmanay party. Featuring performances by three bands, this family friendly event attracts visitors from across the globe to see in the New Year on the banks of the River Ness. Even better, no tickets are required for this superb evening of entertainment. It's great fun, but be sure to wrap up warm!

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