Events and holiday dates in Scotland for visitors planning their holiday in Scotland...
Bank holidays & Events in Scotland
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New Year's Day, 2 January, Good Friday and Easter Monday, May Day (the first Monday in May), Victoria Day (the last Monday in May), 25 and 26 December (Christmas Day, Boxing Day) are all public holidays.
There are also local public holidays in spring and autumn. Dates vary from place to place. Banks are closed during these holidays, and sights and shops may be affected to varying degrees.
There is a huge range of organized events held throughout Scotland every year, ranging in size and spectacle from the Edinburgh Festival, the largest arts festival in the world, to more obscure traditional events featuring ancient customs dating back many centuries. The Scottish Tourist Board (STB) publishes a comprehensive list, Events in Scotland, twice a year. It's free and is available from the main tourist offices.
The most popular tourist events are the Highland Games (or Gatherings), a series of competitions involving lots of kilts, bagpipes and caber-tossing, which are held across the Highlands and Islands, the northeast and Argyll from June to September. The best known is the Braemar Gathering, which is attended by various members of the Royal Family. Those at Oban and Dunoon are large events, but smaller gatherings are often more enjoyable and 'authentic'.
Folk festivals are also great expressions of Celtic culture.
Calendar of events
New Year's Day: A variety of ancient local celebrations take place, including the Kirkwall Ba' Game, a mixture of football and mud wrestling.
Up-Helly-Aa: Re-enactment of the ancient Viking fire festival held on Shetland on the last Tuesday in January.
Celtic Connections: Huge celebration of Celtic music from around the world, held in various venues throughout Glasgow over two weeks in January.
Burns Night: Burns suppers held on 25th January all over the country to celebrate the poet's birthday. Lots of haggis, whisky and poetry recitals.
Scottish Grand National: Held at Ayr racecourse in April.
Rugby Sevens: Seven-a-side rugby tournament held throughout the Borders.
Scottish FA Cup Final: Held at Hampden Park in Glasgow in May.
The Highland Festival: Held over two weeks from late May till early June at venues throughout the Highland region. For details, Tel 01463-719000, www.highlandfestival.org.uk
Riding of the Marches: Horse riding, parades, brass bands etc commemorating the wars between the Scots and the English. Held in various towns in the Borders from June to August.
Royal Highland Show: Scotland's largest agricultural show, held at Ingliston, near Edinburgh, in June.
International Jazz Festival: Held in Glasgow in July.
T in the Park: Scotland's largest outdoor music festival featuring many of the best pop and rock bands. Held at Balado Airfield at Kinross in July.
Edinburgh International and Fringe Festival: The greatest arts extravaganza on the planet, held over three weeks in August. At the same time is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a massed pipe bands and military pageantry on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.
World Pipe Band Championships:Held in Glasgow in August.
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival:Held on Speyside in May.
Braemar Highland Gathering: Attended by the Royal Family in September
National Mod: Competative Gaelic music festival held at various locations in October (check with the Tourist Board).
Tour of Mull Rally: The highlight of the Scottish rally season, run over the island's public roads (no wonder they're in such appaling condition) in October.
Aberdeen Alternative Festival: The northeast's major arts and culture fest, held in October.
Hogmanay: Old year's night, and the most important national celebration. Possible derivations of the word include Holag Monath, Anglo Saxon for 'Holy Month' and Hoog min dag, which is Dutch for 'great love day'. Edinburgh's huge street party is the largest such celebration in the northern hemisphere.