Home to bagpipes, haggis and kilts, Scotland’s culture dates back to clans in the 12th Century.
With nearly 800 islands to explore, and an annual calendar of events and festivals on offer, there are plenty of reasons to keep coming back all year round. In particular, Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, is a hot bed of festivals.
Whether you are into summer music festivals, boutique events or Celtic spectaculars, it’s hard to beat Scotland’s festival variety. Here are our personal travel managers’ top picks for festivals in Scotland.
Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
July – throughout Edinburgh
The biggest jazz and blues festival of its kind in Britain offers over 100 shows, covering everything from big band ensembles to freestyle jazz, and runs during the month of July.
The festival dates back to 1978 where its initial focus was free admission at local pubs showcasing more traditional forms of jazz. Today, the festival is comprised of outdoor spectaculars and wine bars that host intimate serenades. The festival also hosts free showings of Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket and Jazz On A Summers Day.
Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival
August – throughout Edinburgh
For three weeks in August, Edinburgh is transformed as the world’s leading arts festival brings to life theatres, concert halls and smaller venues across the city.
The Edinburgh International Festival story started in 1947 just after World War II, as the festival provided an outlet for the best artists around the world to demonstrate their talents.
Various forms on music, opera, dance and theatre are showcased throughout the International Festival, featuring world premieres, unique collaborations and new interpretations of classic works.
The Fringe started when eight theatre groups, who were not invited to the International Festival, tried to perform and were barred but not deterred. The entertainers went on to stage their shows on the ‘fringes’ of the festival, a tradition that continues today.
From household names to emerging artists, in 2015, 50,459 performances culminated in 3,314 shows at 313 venues, making The Fringe the largest arts festival in the world.
T in the Park
July – Strathallan Castle, Perthshire
If you’re a music lover, T in the Park is one of Scotland’s major music festivals, with over 250,000 people attending each year. Fans come to dance their way through a multitude of diverse line-ups and stunning surroundings over the three-day event in July.
A regular feature in the Scottish festival calendar since its beginnings in 1994, the event was originally held at an abandoned airport, before moving to the regal setting of Srathallan Castle in Perthshire in 2015.
Edinburgh Art Festival
August – throughout Edinburgh
Overlapping with both the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this is a relatively young festival compared to its contemporaries.
This event was founded in 2004 with the aim of unifying Scotland’s foremost museums, galleries and public art commissions to create an engaging exhibition for visitors. Most recently in 2015, the festival exhibited more than 40 individual showcases with a particular focus on non-gallery artists.
May – Monachyle Mhor Farm, Balquhidder, Perthshire
Mhor Festival is one for food lovers, art enthusiasts, dancers, musicians, singles, families and theatre buffs. Situated in the beautiful grounds of Monachyle Mhor on the banks of Loch Voil in the Scottish Highlands, this one of a kind festival embraces the love of creative arts with outdoor camping and entertainment.
Woodland walks, raft building and baking competitions are just a few of the activities drawing people into the magical warmth of the Mhor Festival, keeping children and adults alike entertained for the full 72 hours that the festival runs.
Glasgow International Jazz Festival
June – George Square and throughout Glasgow
The Glasgow International Jazz Festival began in 1987, when Glasgow was aiming to become the European City of Culture in 1990. Since its beginning, world-renowned jazz musicians have headlined the festival including Miles Davis, Pee Wee Ellis and Elvin Jones to name a few. With major concerts, a late night jazz club, film screenings and talks, it’s one of the biggest events in the Scottish jazz calendar.
If you would like to know more about the cultural delights of Scotland’s many festivals, get in touch with your personal travel manager or find one here.