Best events at the Festival of Museums

Best events at the Festival of Museums

Living History Day: from Waterloo to the World Wars

Meet a Roman, drink like a Viking or sound like a dinosaur

History steps into the present this weekend as the Festival of Museums arrives at historic venues up and down Scotland. Taking place over three days from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 May, smaller museums step out of the shadow of the big city sites to show off their local charms with an eclectic array of events.

Best family events
Know some small people fond of prehistoric creatures? Celebrate the birthday of Andrew Carnegie's dinosaur, Diplodocus carnegii, with a dino egg hunt, 3D dinosaur mask crafts and the chance to make some dinosaur noises with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. If they’re more the swashbuckling, pirate type Aberdeen Martime Museum is open for a night of nautical sleuthling after a murder is committed on the high seas. Or if it’s adventure they’re after, head to Dundee’s Discovery Point to meet a polar explorer, check out the specialised equipment for Polar expeditions and try on some explorer clothing.

Best boozey events
If you thought museums were a rather sober affair, think again. The festival has a host of adult events combining history with a cheeky tipple. Robert Burns’ cottage is transformed into the Burns Heid Inn, travel back in time to experience a night of brews at the Bard’s with music, local characters and a pub quiz. Cheers Rabbie. Travel further back yet and visit the Viking Tavern complete with Viking lounge music, traditional drinks, pub grub and, instead of a round of pool, Viking games. Over in Perth celebrate World Whisky Day with a tasting of Perthshire whiskies. Whisky production objects from the museum’s collection add the necessary historical element to proceedings.

Best historic character events
History comes to life for the festival with characters from days gone by. Meet Roman soldiers at Low Parks Museum and try some Roman training techniques at or watch live re-enactments of life as a French soldier at Eyemouth Museum. Over at The Museum of the Black Watch hear battle stories from soldiers, the gory details of medicine in the trenches from a WWI nurse and watch Waterloo re-enactments including a musketry display and an officers’ duel. Don’t want to choose a particular time period? St Johns Castle is brimming with characters from the Middle Ages right through to Victorian times with titled gentry up in the tower and common criminals languishing in the prison.

Best military events
In Shetland The Shetland Bus remembers a WWII special operations group that operated between the islands and Norway, ferrying agents, weapons and supplies across the U-Boat-infested North Sea. Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre commemorate the end of WWI with a chance to check out vintage military vehicles; you can even hop in a Spitfire cockpit for an ‘aerial’ selfie. Gateway Galleries commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with From Balloons to Typhoons: RAF Leuchars' Big Day Out, a family friendly gala set in the 1940s. There’s homefront entertainment, film footage of the period, a vintage hair salon and performances from the Royal Air Force Pipes & Drums Central Scotland.

Best music events
For history with a beat, ReSound Musical Heritage Festival offers a day of live bands, drumming workshops and a chance to make your own musical instrument. Edinburgh Renaissance Band perform hits from the middle ages and renaissance with period instruments including cornets, sackbuts, nakers, crumhorns and bagpipes. Or if you fancy a historical knees up there are ceilidhs taking place at Almond Valley Heritage Centre with the Livingston Fiddlers, the Museum of the Scottish Shale Oil Industry with Mac-a-Story and a Victorian/Steampunk themed affair in Surgeon’s Hall.

Festival of Museums, various venues Scotland, Fri 15–Sun 17 May. Check out some of the other events below.

Festival of Museums

Think you know museums? Think again. The Festival of Museums is an annual three-day celebration of history, culture, science, arts and heritage during which museums of all shapes and sizes across the country host special events, showcasing the important place our museums hold as gatekeepers of Scotland’s cultural…

Living History Day

Meet historical characters, try your hand at fencing and archery, and check out some reconstructed clothing, weapons, armour and crafts from days gone by.

Dancing In The Streets

A weekend of activities as part of the Festival of Museums. On Friday take part in a ceilidh with the Livingston Fiddlers and hear Mac-A-Story bring Scottish tales to life. On Saturday you can get crafty creating' miner's cottages out of clay to add to the communal display of a shale village.

Murder on the High Seas

Bless me barnacles, there be a Murder on the High Seas! Things are looking decidedly murky down on the SS Maritime and we are in serious need of some super sleuths to unravel this tangled tale of deception, dishonour and (gulp!) death. We are opening the museum up for a nautical night of tracking down clues, interrogating…

Dig it! with the Romans

Can you Dig It!? Help us celebrate this year long archeology festival at Low Parks by stepping back in time to join the Antonine Guard who lived right here on the edge of the Roman Empire. We've got lots of hands-on activities for all the family on offer throughout the day with simulated digs, touch tables of ancient…

Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War

We are rather proud of our brand new building so it is only right that we share our fabulous new space with you! Come and see our new exhibition 'RFC/RAF Montrose in the First World War' and then take in all the other treats we have in store for you. For three days, we'll be orchestrating a vehicular military two-step…

A Scandal in Surgeons' Hall

Music, dancing, magic and mystery at the Surgeon's Hall. Wear something Victorian/Steampunk-inspired, but be aware that beyond the terrifying anomalies of the Anatomical Museum lies the ultimate in eldritch horror: a ceilidh.

The French Connection

Bonjour, tout le monde! Things are looking decidedly Gallic at Eyemouth this weekend with our return to the 16th Century. Join us for live re-enactments of life as a French soldier in Eyemouth in 1557-60 and find out just what they were doing in our Square! There are lots of local interest stalls, musical entertainment to…

The Castle is ALIVE!

We may seem rather imposing up here in the Castle of St John, but we're a friendly bunch – all 600 years worth of us! For the very first time, the tower is brimming with characters from the Middle Ages right through to Victorian times, all at the same time. Find out what it was like to be one of the first occupants of the…