Bring on Winter (festivals)!
Winter brings to Scotland an amazing number of events for all the family
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With St Andrew's Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night on the horizon, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate this winter. Locals and tourists alike are encouraged to get in the spirit over the coming months, with a dynamic range of special events taking place across Scotland. It could be enjoying delicious food and drink with loved ones, having a family day out at one of the many festivals, or bringing in the bells with live music and dancing.
As well as championing Scotland's own heritage, Scotland's Winter Festivals programme reflects the diverse ethnic and cultural minority communities that call Scotland home. Join in St Andrew's Day celebrations with Bollywood dancing, Senegalese drumming and Ukrainian folk music at the St Andrew's Day Fusion Festival in Dundee, or take part in a stunning torchlight procession through the west end of Glasgow accompanied by street band Samba Ya Bamba.
For a Hogmanay with a difference, Fire and Light at Helix Park in Falkirk focuses on New Year folklore aimed at deterring bad spirits and bringing good fortune for the year ahead. Taking in the spectacular backdrop of the majestic Kelpies, this mesmerizing display combines fire, sound and light for an unforgettable family experience.
When it comes to celebrating the nation's Bard, a classic Burns Supper of haggis, neeps and tatties with a side of poetry is the traditional choice. If you want to put a contemporary slant on proceedings check out the nineday Big Burns Supper Festival in Dumfries, with cabaret, comedy and the biggest street carnival in Scotland.
However you choose to celebrate this winter, ensure you make the most of the valuable opportunity to experience other cultures, share your own, and enjoy some of Scotland's top talents as the nation comes together in a spectacular showcase of heritage.
BRING ON THE WINTER
Celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists, the festival of lights signifies the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. In addition to a traditional mela festival with music, dance, food and fireworks, there will be a colourful Diwali parade comprising bagpipes, highland dancers, hundreds of lantern bearers and four spectacular floats carrying Hindu gods.
Sat 12 Nov, Ross Band Theatre | edinburghdiwali.co.uk
Oban Winter Festival
This annual extravaganza sees the town come to life with live music, ceilidhs, art exhibitions and market stalls, whilst foodies can sample fine wine and whisky before watching local butchers battle it out for the coveted Golden Haggis award. Highlights include a community parade and a bespoke heritage trail accompanied by a local theatre performance to showcase key architectural sites in the area.
Fri 18–Sun 27 Nov | obanwinterfestival.com
The Saltire Festival
Celebrating the best of Scottish music, arts and food and drink, the Saltire programme has something for everyone, from comedy for kids to a nighttime 10K with a party atmosphere. From fiddle-led folk to classical and choral, a selection of concerts cater to all tastes, with a flagship evening of music featuring 13 piece supergroup Treacherous Orchestra and award-winning folk-rock outfit Skerryvore attracting music-lovers from far and wide.
Thu 24–Wed 30 Nov, East Lothian | saltirefestival.com
BRING ON ST ANDREW'S DAY
St Andrew's Day Celebrations in St Andrews
Where better to celebrate our patron saint than the picturesque town bearing his name? An open air street party, the world's biggest ceilidh and a St Andrews v Rest of the World golf match on the world-famous St Andrews Links will be on offer, while The St Andrew's Day Conversation will see a panel of leading Scots brought together to discuss what 'Scottishness' means to them.
Fri 25–Wed 30 Nov | visitstandrews.com
St Andrew's Day Fusion Festival
With an emphasis on embracing the diversity of the local community, the Fusion Festival aims to highlight the many different groups and cultures that comprise modern day Scotland. Performers from Scottish, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, African and Indian backgrounds bring together their distinct cultures in a vibrant celebration of music and dance.
Sat 26 Nov, Dundee City Square | leisureandculturedundee.com
Glasgow's St Andrew's Day Torchlight Parade
This inaugural event invites you to take part in a stunning torchlight procession through Glasgow's picturesque west end, with local brass and drums street band Samba Ya Bamba providing some carnival flair. Torches can be purchased for £10, and in keeping with the generous spirit of St Andrew, a donation will be made to the Beatson Cancer Charity.
Sat 26 Nov | westendfestival.co.uk
Bemis & Tracs: St Andrew's Day Open Conference
Scotland's history and heritage belongs to all of Scotland's people. Ahead of 2017's Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology and part of Scotland's Winter Festivals this conference explores how we can realise the creative potential of our diverse cultural heritage in local communities and promote a dynamic, inclusive Scottish national identity. Join a dynamic day of presentations, participative workshops, live performances and networking opportunities.
Wed 30 Nov, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh | tracscotland.org
Illumination: Harbour Festival of Light
Set against a backdrop of beautiful boats and the former shipyard building described as Scotland's 'Cathedral of Engineering', this art and light spectacular is an innovative display of glowing origami and gravity defying aerial acrobatics. On the opening night, see the Saltire blaze across the sky over historic Irvine Harbour as pyrotechnics crackle in celebration of St Andrew's Day.
Wed 30 Nov–Sat 3 Dec, Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine | illuminationfestival.co.uk
BRING ON HOGMANAY
Hogmanay at an Lanntair
Traditionally, New Year is a time for people to return home and be with family, and this event provides the perfect opportunity to bring in the bells as a community. Showcasing an ever increasing line up of local talent, an eclectic cast of homegrown singers and musicians will take to the stage in an intimate and personal evening with the theme of gathering together to celebrate Hogmanay at its heart.
Sat 31 Dec–Fri 27 Jan, Stornoway | lanntair.com
The capital's world-famous street party needs little introduction, with four stages hosting top artists ranging from headliners The Charlatans to well-known acts covering dance, Scottish folk and jazz. Alternatively, head to the open air Old Town Ceilidh and 'birl' through the bells. You can also join a spectacular torchlight procession through the city on 30th December, or take a trip to South Queensferry for the Loony Dook on 1st January, when thousands of daring individuals will take a dip in the freezing River Forth for charity. Those wishing to stay dry can take an adventurous journey through Edinburgh's Old Town with Scot:Lands, a unique curation of music, art and theatre events led by Scotland's most innovative artists and musicians.
Fri 30 Dec – Sun 1 Jan | edinburghshogmanay.com
Africa Meets Tayside Hogmanay
Aiming to raise awareness of the rich Afro-Scottish connection that has existed for centuries, this community food event encourages locals with African heritage to prepare and share traditional dishes that their parents used to enjoy back in Africa. The fusion Hogmanay celebrations will also give African people the chance to showcase their traditional attire and dance to African music as they bring in the New Year.
Sat 31 Dec, Tayside Deaf Hub, Dundee | scotland.org/winter
Fire and Light – Helix Park
Taking in the impressive backdrop of the majestic Kelpies, this mesmerizing display combining fire, sound and light is grounded in New Year folklore aimed at deterring bad spirits and bringing forth good fortune for the year ahead. One for all the family, the fiery 4K walk features a beautiful lantern installation, glow workshop, fire performers and a giant fire breathing bird that will ignite guests' New Year wishes for good luck.
Sun 1 Jan, Falkirk | thehelix.co.uk
BRING ON BURNS NIGHT
Big burns supper
Now in its sixth year, this eclectic festival is all about coming together with friends, family and visitors around Burn's Night to celebrate the very best of Scottish culture. Set in Rabbie's beloved Dumfries, a jam-packed programme of music, cabaret, comedy and theatre culminates in the biggest street carnival in Scotland, with over 5,000 participants taking to the streets.
Fri 20 Jan–Sat 28 Jan, Dumfries | bigburnssupper.com
A Taste of Islam + Burns
This informal event provides members of the public with a tasty introduction to the diversity of Muslim communities in Scotland. Involving Muslims with connections to Pakistan, Turkey, the Arab world, Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as local converts, all will bring their own unique stories and heritage to the event via some delicious homemade food.
Sun 22 Jan, University of Edinburgh | scotland.org/winter
A unique commemoration of Robert Burns in his historic hometown, highlights include Burns Alicht, a sparkling tour of local Burns landmarks with surprises on the way; Burns Big Birthday Bash, a haggis hurling party at the cottage where Rabbie was born and Bursnfest!, a free family festival featuring live music and stalls offering delicious homegrown food and drink.
Wed 25 – Sun 29 Jan, Ayr | burnsfestival.com
The above is just a snippet of the Scotland's Winter Festivals programme and for full details of all the events visit: scotland.org/winter