St Andrew's Day
The 30th of November is St Andrew’s Day, the National Day of Scotland. It is a public holiday for many and traditionally the start of the winter festival season, which culminates with Burn’s Night at the end of January. It’s a brilliant time to come and discover Scotland, exciting, vibrant and colourful. Here are a few of our favourite events taking place over the next month.
Savour St Andrews has been on the go now for six years. It traditionally brings together local chefs to create a variety of food related events which highlight the depth of local produce available in Fife. One of the highlights is, of course, the St Andrew’s Day supper which this year will take place at the Old Course Hotel. As befitting a community focused event, a portion of the money raised will go towards bursaries for local students. In the evening there will be Fireworks, a Torch Parade and Street Ceilidh. In addition, there are whisky tours available and wine tastings which add to St Andrews’ growing reputation as a foodie destination in its own right. To experience this for yourself, try a weekend break at Balfour House, a modern apartment inside a traditional building and walking distance to the town’s finest restaurants and bars. Indulge yourself without worrying about transport or travel and spend your time exploring on two feet and indulging at every opportunity.
An Lanntair in Stornoway has a typically Hebridean line up in December. The kids classic, The Gruffalo, returns to the big screen in Gaelic along with a host of classic and contemporary Scottish films. Traditional, Folk and Gaelic music also feature heavily with Willie Campbell, Ho-Ro and Blue Rose Code providing tunes to get you up dancing. A gin and food tasting event, billed as the perfect pick me up for a cold winter’s night, will showcase a number of the award-winning local gins that have taken the market by storm in the last few years paired with the freshest local produce the islands have to offer. Peninsula Cottage is just a short drive out of the town, great for relaxing regardless of the weather due to a lovely hot tub. It is also just by the coast and located well for a scenic walk along the waters-edge to recover from a night of excessive ceilidh dancing.
The Seal Festival of Small Halls is probably as far removed from your traditional image of a summer festival as it’s possible to get, but is all the better for it. This eight-day, multi-artform, event brings big music to small village halls around Skye and Lochalsh with the emphasis on tradition, community bonds and friendship. It will feature some of the best traditional musicians, writers, visual artists and videographers these venues have ever seen for a community celebration of Gaelic heritage, hospitality and friendship. There will be informal sessions at The Old Inn, Seamus’ Bar and The Ferry Inn as well as workshops and a massive ceilidh at the Sligachan Hotel on the last day. For visitors, this is a brilliant opportunity to immerse yourself in some true Highland culture. These events, although welcoming to all, are primarily for local residents to let their hair down in the off season and as such can be raucous affairs. Teangue House sits not far from one of the small halls featured. It is a cosy winter retreat to get away from it all but still walking distance to attractions such as the nearby café and distillery. If you don’t feel the need to spend your holiday driving to the most famous Skye attractions there is easily enough in this quiet corner to keep you occupied for a week.
The Saltire Festival takes place the first week in December and features a diverse selection of events throughout East Lothian including a 10K Night Run and Ultramarathon, live music and historical re-enactments. This area is especially proud of its heritage and is billed as the home of our national flag. It is also the scene of the battle of Prestonpans, a pivotal moment in Scottish history. Denfind House is a sleek and modern build which sits in stark contrast to the many ancient castles in the surrounding area. It is a great base for golfers as well as those seeking out the quiet beaches of East Lothian while still being a short train ride to Edinburgh.