Friday, 2 June 2023

Local flavour at Scotland’s Festivals


The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (2022) at Edinburgh Castle © VisitScotland / Kenny Lam. For more images of Scotland visit our VisitScotland Toolkit.

Throughout the year, the calendar is filled with events of all shapes and sizes across Scotland. These events are a great way to get to know local communities, traditions and be immersed in Scottish culture. A warm and friendly welcome, combined with breath-taking backdrops, make for the perfect atmosphere on the world's perfect stage… Scotland!


Scotland becomes a world stage…

Scotland is home to the world's largest international performing arts festival and throughout the summer months, the streets of Edinburgh become a stage for the world as artists and performers come together across seven major festivals.

Beyond the capital, visitors can head to all corners of Scotland to discover events and festivals showcasing the best of local, national and international talent.

Set in Orkney's incredible landscape in the light nights of midsummer, the St Magnus International Festival brings music, theatre, poetry, multi-sensory experiences and more to the Orkney Isles. In its 47th year, the festival will feature the world premiere of David McNeish's play Thora, the story of Orkney native St. Magnus' mother about whom little is known. The Festival spans venues from Pier Arts Centre to St Magnus Cathedral, stunning churches nestled scenically on the coast, Stromness Town Hall, The Writing Room at Kirkwall Hotel and the Pickaquoy Centre and is a great way to discover the cultural life of the islands.

A music festival founded in 2004, East Neuk Festival takes place in Crail, Anstruther, Kilrenny, St Monans and St Andrews in Fife. The Festival brings together performers from around the world in venues that are quirky and atmospheric from churches to caves through to an ex-nuclear bunker and the pretty streets of the picturesque East Neuk of Fife.

  • HebCelt 23, Wednesday 12th July to Saturday 15th July

This multi-award-winning music festival takes place on the stunning Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and is a celebration of Gaelic culture and language. Promoting the island's heritage, history and traditional music, the festival takes place at a purpose-built venue featuring three stages on the Lews Castle Green which offers free standing concerts for up to 5000 people.

Discover more music festivals in Scotland here: 20 Best Scottish Music Festivals | VisitScotland


A breath of fresh air…

Scotland's landscapes are the ideal setting for a festival and there are plenty of events throughout the year inspiring visitors and locals alike to get out in the great outdoors and take it all in.

With walks ranging from gentle strolls to challenging endurance events, alongside activities that have in the past included cycling, kayaking, wildlife watching, bushcraft and more, the Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival is a great way to discover the region's natural, historical and cultural landscape. From the foothills of The Cairngorms National Park, the largest National Park in the UK, to the glittering coastline, the region's spellbinding scenery provides the perfect backdrop for adventure and exploration on Scotland's long summer days.

The Cowal Gathering held in Dunoon, Argyll, is the largest Highland Games in the world. Each year, 23,000 visitors head to the events to soak up the unique friendly atmosphere and get a taste of Scottish culture surrounded by world-class pipers, dancers and athletes competing in traditional Highland sports. A fantastic family event, every Highland Games has a unique character and tradition.

Find out more about Highland Games across Scotland: Highland Games in Scotland - The Best Events | VisitScotland

This thrilling festival is the longest-running professional windsurfing event in the world and there's plenty for spectators to do too. Visitors inspired by the professionals on the waves can try surfing, paddle boarding or windsurfing and then soak up the amazing atmosphere of the brilliant nightlife.

For a full programme of events on Scotland's islands visit: 19 Must-Do Festivals on Scotland's Islands | VisitScotland


Have a taste of Scotland…

A festival round-up in Scotland wouldn't be complete without showcasing Scotland's natural larder and mouth-watering delicacies.  In the coming months, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate some of the best, most sought after natural produce along Scotland's spectacular coastlines and lush, fertile lands.

Foraging Fortnight offers a wide range of events from coastal foraging to herbal wellness, from wild food treks focusing on plants, seaweed and fungi to topical talks, encouraging visitors to enjoy Scotland's gift of nature responsibly.

Set in the spectacular surroundings of Tir na nOg on the edge of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, a celebration of wild food and foraging in Scotland awaits. The festival encourages people of all ages to step outdoors and learn about local wild food. With scrumptious feasts, wild cocktail making, forest school, talks and demos, workshops, live music, a marketplace, and foraging walks on the beautiful woodland trails packed with wild food surprises around every corner, there really is something for everyone to get their teeth into!

Whether an oyster connoisseur or just bivalve curious, the three-day celebration of Stranraer's unique coastal heritage, culture, people and its wealth of local produce makes for a brilliant foodie day out.  Visitors can try and buy delicious food and drink from talented producers across the region in the bustling artisan market, there's free entertainment for the kids, live music, watersports activities, fireworks display, and Scotland's most skilled shuckers compete in the Scottish Oyster Shucking competition!

Find out more about Scottish food and drinks festivals here: Food and Drink Events in Scotland | VisitScotland


Scotland has tales to tell…

Scotland has a rich heritage of stories and storytelling, these include local tales, oral traditions, great stories told in books or on screen. Every community has its own tales to tell and heading to a festival is a great way to discover more.

Building on last year's successful return show, Voices, the 2023 performance with the show theme 'Stories' will take audiences on a spectacular journey through music, dance, poetry, spoken word, imagery, light and projection – at the unique setting of Edinburgh Castle where spectators will enjoy the legendary sound of the Massed Pipes and Drums alongside a host of international acts by a cast of over 800 UK and international performers from Norway, The United States, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Switzerland. There are few such moving festival moments, a fact to which any of the over 220,000 people who experience it live in any normal year can attest – not to mention the further 100 million who watch television broadcasts of the event.

After a short post summer break, audiences can dive back into festival fun at Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway, with the Wigtown Book Festival. 25 years since the town was designated as Scotland's National Book Town, this year marks the 25th edition of the Wigtown Book Festival, a ten-day literary celebration featuring a vast array of book events, music, theatre and more.

Shetland Wool Week is a world-renowned celebration of Britain's most northerly native sheep, the Shetland textile industry and the rural farming community on these islands. Throughout the week, there will be an extensive range of exhibitions, classes and events, which will cover many different subjects, including weaving, spinning, dyeing, Fair Isle and lace knitting as well as many other fascinating subject areas. Events take place from the most southern tip of Shetland, right up to the most northerly island of Unst, famous for its beautiful lacework, with many locations in between.


Natural wonder…

  • In Scotland it's no surprise that sometimes the wonders of the natural world take centre stage… From midsummer to early autumn, Scotland's hills are draped in a cloak of purple and pink as the wiry, sprawling stems of heather bloom into tiny delicate flowers. As well as being a must-see out in the wild, gin producers like the Isle of Bute Distillery are using this iconic Scottish bloom in their gins, representing the floral beauty and offering a local and natural flavour to the spirit.

Tuesday, 30 May 2023

Viva l'Italia: the latest Italy travel news, openings and events


Birds-eye view to the old town of Bergamo, one of Italy's 2023 Capital of Cutlures


With the European summer just around the corner, Italy is heating up with a host of new travel experiences and events across the country. Beyond the typical sights and sounds of Italy, here's a wrap up of the latest happenings to include in your Italian travel plans.

World renowned events

The 2023 season of Arena di Verona celebrates 100 years. Except for two short breaks during the two World Wars, Verona's Roman amphitheatre, Arena di Verona, has been transforming into the world's largest open-air opera theatre for the iconic Opera Festival every summer since 1913. To celebrate the centenary, this year's program will feature the best works performed during the past 100 seasons, a total of 50 performances including eight operas (one being a completely new Aida) and gala music performances. Beginning in 1913, Opera Festival's first performance was Aida which was organised to commemorate the then centenary of the birth of Italian composer, Giuseppe Verdi. The festival runs from now until 9 September.

Arena di Verona

Venice Architecture Biennale celebrates African design. For the first time in its history, the Venice Architecture Biennale will focus on Africa under the theme 'The Laboratory of the Future.' Curated by Ghanaian-Scottish architect and academic, Lesley Lokko, the exhibitions will delve into how the world's youngest and fastest urbanising continent is becoming a testing ground for innovative solutions to global issues such as climate change, equity, and resource management. The Biennale Architettura 2023 is open now until 26 November.

New travel experiences and places to stay

Built in 1822, Capri's first hotel is being transformed into an elegant and exclusive 50-room-and-suite hotel. Located only a few steps from the famous Piazzetta, Hotel La Palma is set to bring the island's iconic dolce vita lifestyle to life with a reimagined incarnation of Capri's original iconic hotel that has previously hosted notable artists, poets, writers and musicians. Hotel La Palma will have a rooftop restaurant and bar, its own beach club, a newly built pool deck, a spa, and a high-fashion boutique. The property is scheduled to open for the 2023 summer season.

Hotel La Palma, Capri

New hiking trail links 2023 Italian Capital of Cultures; Bergamo and Brescia. Two cities less than an hour apart — and around forty minutes by train from Milan — have been heralded as this year's dual capitals of culture. To mark the nod, a new hiking trail, Via delle Sorelle, has opened connecting the two cities. Along the way, trekkers will pass by UNESCO World Heritage Sites and gorgeous wine regions. The route connects the San Salvatore–Santa Giulia monastic complex in Brescia and the medieval Città Alta in Bergamo with its 16th-century Venetian walls.

Hotel Romeo Roma is set to arrive in the Eternal City. One of the last projects designed by the late Zaha Hadid, this 74-room hotel near Piazza del Popolo will draw architecture and design fans by the droves. Based on initial renderings and plans, it will be home to a Sisley Spa and the city's first restaurant by French chef, Alain Ducasse.

Trending travel experiences and destinations

One of Pompeii's grandest villas reopens for the first time in 20 years. After being buried under rubble for nearly two millennia, Pompeii's House of the Vettii has reopened to the public following 20 years of restoration work. Like most of Pompeii's townhouses, House of the Vettii was found in remarkably good condition, richly decorated with impeccably preserved frescoes. The house is considered one of the most outstanding examples of first-century Roman art.

New app promises to get kids learning and laughing their way around Rome. Trova has been launched with the aim of helping families explore Rome with a series of self-guided interactive 'detective' trails. The app has been designed to get children to engage with Rome's historic sites with fun facts, puzzles and humour. Trova aims to to get kids hooked on history with the founders describing the app as "part scavenger hunt, part escape room and part guide."

Italy gains 17 new 'Blue Flag' beaches. A total of 458 beaches across Italy have been awarded the 2023 Bandiera Blu (Blue Flag) status for excellent water quality and high environmental standards. The Italian region with the highest number of Bandiera Blu beaches is Liguria, once again in the top spot with 34 beaches including two new entries: Laigueglia and Sori.

Laigueglia, Province of Savona

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