This article is sponsored by Year of Coasts and Waters.

Must-see Year of Coasts and Waters events in Scotland

Must-see Year of Coasts and Waters events in Scotland

Loch Etive / picture: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

Water sports, Halloween fun, light shows and more will take place against a backdrop of spectacular Scottish scenery

The challenges of the past 18-months have led to a newfound appreciation for the beauty of British land and seascapes and Scotland boasts some of the very best of them. 2020-2021 has been dubbed the Year of Coasts and Waters, with VisitScotland supporting a programme of events that has revelled in the magnificence of some of our favourite lochs, rivers, waterways and coastal spots, as well as uncovering some of the country's lesser-known gems.

And there's plenty still to come, with a wide range of activities and entertainment giving locals and visitors the opportunity to experience Scotland's coasts and waters in a variety of different ways. There's something for everyone, whether you're up for getting wet, or would much prefer to stay dry. Although all of the events make the most of us coming back together following periods of isolation, they have been arranged in a way that's reassuringly safe and Covid-secure. Here's our run down of some of the things to look out for:

Northern Lights Festival

Kicking things off on our list is a brand-new event, a free arts festival honouring the majesty and history of Wick Harbour and the Caithness coastline, which is taking place both in-person and online. A projection project will bring the area to life every evening, with distinctive installations visible at iconic sites, while there will be a procession involving Scotland's largest puppet STORM, a ten-metre-tall goddess of the sea.
Northern Lights Festival, Wick Harbour, Friday 8 to Saturday 16 October.

Must-see Year of Coasts and Waters events in Scotland

Travelling Gallery: Shapes Of Water Tour

The Royal National Mòd

Founded in Oban in 1891, An Comunn Gàidhealach is a charitable organisation devoted to the preservation and development of the Gaelic language. They're the brains behind Scotland's premier Gaelic festival, a joyous celebration of language and music that's a major social event and staple of the country's annual cultural calendar. This year it features a mix of in-person and online events, including East, a newly commissioned work composed and performed by Lauren MacColl, inspired by coastal stories from around the Moray Firth, and A Watery View: Place Names of Shore and Freshwater around Inverness, a lecture featuring Scottish Gaelic broadcaster and author Ruairidh (Roddy) Maclean.
The Royal National Mòd, Eden Court, Inverness, from Friday 8 to Saturday 16 October.

Travelling Gallery: Shapes of Water Tour

This bus-based contemporary gallery has been travelling the country bringing art to Scottish communities since 1978. Its current exhibition Shapes of Water is the result of three exciting young artists – Suzie Eggins, Amy Gear and Rhona Mühlebach – responding to the themes evoked by the Year of Coasts and Waters in a thought-provoking and idiosyncratic way.
Travelling Gallery: Shapes of Water Tour, Summerlee Museum, North Lanarkshire, from Thursday 14 to Monday 18 October, with further dates to be announced.

Your Tay Your Adventure

Your Tay Your Adventure is a series of events in and around Scotland's longest river, the mighty River Tay, which has been taking place throughout the summer and runs on into the autumn, and which boasts a mix of free and paid-for activities run by Willowgate Activity Centre. The Loch Faskally Kayak Tour is on Saturday 9 October, while the free events Pond Dipping & Water Peddlers and Pick It Up Perth River Litter Pick wrap things up on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 October.
Your Tay Your Adventure, Willowgate Activity Centre, Perth, until Sunday 17 October.

Must-see Year of Coasts and Waters events in Scotland

Light Waves Double Take Projections

Light Waves

This very special online extravaganza aims to light up history, like never before. Produced by Double Take Projections and accompanied by a soundtrack by the band Niteworks, with narration by Scottish poets Colin Bramwell, Peter Mackay and Roseanne Watt, Light Waves is a one-of-a-kind short film, told in Scots, English and Gaelic, which showcases the heritage and traditions of Scotland's coasts and waters.
Light Waves is available to watch for free via Facebook and YouTube, Sunday 17 October.

RowAround Scotland 2021

Commemorating 10 years of organisers the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, RowAround Scotland 2021 is an open rowing boats relay around the coast of Scotland, with the 70 member clubs all taking part in an effort to join up their communities and highlight Scotland's coastline and waters. They'll be rowing the final leg this month, before things come to a close on Wednesday 27 October.
RowAround Scotland 2021, St Mary's Loch to Greta, until Wednesday 27 October.

Paisley Halloween Festival presents Out of this World

Paisley's popular and award-winning Halloween celebrations are back! Unfolding over five, fun-filled days, from 5pm to 10pm each night, the town centre will be transformed into an immersive, otherworldly experience with an illuminated trail of installations and light displays centring on the stunning White Cart River.
Out of this World, Paisley town centre, Thursday 28 October to Monday 1 November.

Must-see Year of Coasts and Waters events in Scotland

Paisleys Festival of Halloween Ursula Lassos the Moon EP, Topher McGrillis / picture: Lucy McDonnell


From director/editor Shona Thomson, Launch! is a 44-minute film focusing on the work of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution that draws heavily on archive footage to pay tribute to those saving lives on unpredictable seas and those on land who support them. On tour across Scotland throughout the autumn and winter, Launch! will play in cinemas in October and November, including Aberdeen's Belmont Filmhouse on Sunday 17 October, Edinburgh's Filmhouse on Wednesday 10 November, and The Byre Theatre in St Andrews on Thursday 18 November.
Launch!, various venues until Thursday 25 November, with more dates to be announced.

Everything Flows

As their contribution to the Year of Coasts and Waters, Street Level Photoworks have arranged a series of exhibitions and events which make up a photography trail across the west coast, saluting Scotland's coexistence with and dependency on its waterways and coastal lands. This is complemented by a programme of online resources and engagement activities. Locations include the Rockfield Centre in Oban and the home of Street Level Photoworks, Trongate 103 in Glasgow.
Everything Flows, various venues until Sunday 31 October.

To find out more about the Year of Coasts and Waters head to