Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, celebrates the 70th anniversary of its world-famous festivals in 2017, with 12 major annual festivals including the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the world’s biggest arts festival.
In a year that the United Nations has designated as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development,
the Isle of Eigg, south of the Isle of Skye, marks 20 years as a fully sustainable island in 2017, generating almost 100% of its electricity using renewable energy – it’s also home to 130 bird species including breeding raptors.
Twenty years on from its initial print run of 1000 copies in June, Scotland and Harry Potter are inextricably connected. The author JK Rowling penned many chapters in cafés around Edinburgh, including the Elephant House.
Get up close and personal with the Scot of your dreams at a ceilidh [pronounced kay-lee], where dances include the Strip the Willow – a unique form of couples’ line dancing.
Held over two weekends, the Follow the Vikings Roadshow & Festival in September will showcase Shetland through Viking-inspired activities such as fire-breathing, beach raids, fierce re-enactments, banquets and clambering aboard the long ships used in the Vikings TV series. You can also get a taste of the Viking Festival activities on Shetland each January (Up Helly Aa) depicted on Season 1 Episode 2 of the series ‘Shetland’, currently screening on Netflix. (Frankie’s Fish & Chips in Shetland, the UK’s most northerly chippie, has been named the nation’s best.)
Scotland is home to more than 300 castles, stately homes and ruins, Aberdeenshire is Scottish castle country. Visit 19 of the country’s most dramatic fortresses on Scotland’s Castle Trail, check out royal bolthole Balmoral Castle or head south to the allegedly haunted Glamis Castle, ancestral home of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
The annual epic five-day Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in stunning Speyside, kicks off on 27 April, but visitors throughout the year can travel the whisky trail, pop into distilleries, enjoy nature and entertainment in the region that is home to some of the biggest names in malt whisky. (Try a dram or two neat – the Scots consider it sacrilege to add water! – Ed)
A Scottish first, the self-led North West Highlands Snorkel Trail takes in nine beaches and bays on the coastline of Wester Ross and Sutherland, home to dogfish, barrel jellyfish and sea urchins galore. [brrrrr …. Ed]
For details of these and many more fabulous Scottish experiences in 2017 click here or join the conversation by using #ScotSpirit
Image: Viking festivals on Shetland/Chris Brown