Dragon boats, city zip wires, thrill seekers and Olympians at the Perthshire Adventure Festival

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With its handsome buildings and spacious green parklands picturesquely set alongside the banks of the River Tay, there’s no arguing with the fact that Perth lives up to its epithet of ‘the Fair City.’

Perhaps what you wouldn’t expect to see is Scotland’s newest city packed full of thrilling activities normally reserved for the country’s wilder spaces, but visit on 13 – 15 June to take part in the Perthshire Adventure Festival and you’ll find that you can race, paddle, fly, climb and bike at locations across the city.

I was lucky enough to get a flavour of what the festival is going to be all about and tried my hand at kayaking on the Tay. It was surprisingly easy to pick up. Once you’d mastered control of the craft, you could admire the splendid views of the city from the water. And when it came to negotiating some surging rapids, I was literally shrieking with delight as the kayak bobbed and flowed through white waters. What a rush!

Have your own adventure

Now in its third year, this festival has moved from its previous base in Aberfeldy to the heart of the region’s only city, Perth. In the centre, you’ll be able to whizz through High Street on the specially-constructed mobile zip wire at up to speeds of 60 km, or scale the climbing tower and take in rooftop views of the city.

Looking down Perth's High Street

A giant zip wire will run through Perth’s High Street during the Perthshire Adventure Festival

The area around the Perth Concert Hall will be transformed into a bike hub with a balance bike zone for kids and a Sustrans mountain bike skills course, while on Sunday 15, the River Tay will be the setting for a spectacular dragon boat race. Get a team together and take part in this unique event, or why not take in all the adrenaline-pumping action from the river banks?

Beyond the city limits, there will be plenty of other activities to get stuck into, too.  Perthshire’s beautiful landscapes make the perfect natural playground where you can try climbing, canoeing, archery, white water rafting and – now my own personal recommendation – kayaking.

For the really adventurous, dare yourself to have a go at the Highland Fling bungee jump, or those who prefer to keep both feet firmly on the ground can take part in the guided walks or learn some handy bush craft skills.

Inspiring voices

Many will undoubtedly be drawn to the festival’s brilliant Inspiration programme, with its stellar line-up that includes endurance adventurers, venturesome families, inspiring films, extreme photographers and even a gold medal-winning Olympic athlete.

Across the weekend, the North Inch Community Campus will host talks from the likes of Olympian canoeist Tim Baillie MBE, partially sighted climber Steve Bate and Calum McNicol, who rowed across the Atlantic in only 35 days.

Hear tales of persistence and relentless stamina from Sean Conway, who last year became the first and only man to swim the length of Britain, or see Stephen Venables show remarkable photos from Sir Ernest Shackleton’s explorations and tell of his own modern mountaineering adventures.

The Explorers' Room of Fair Maid's House

The Explorers’ Room of Fair Maid’s House will be the venue for Q&A sessions as part of the Inspiration programme

In addition to talks at the campus, on the Saturday you can catch some of the speakers in intimate ‘micro-presentations’ and Q&A sessions, as well as adventure storytelling for kids. These will be set in the charming Explorers room of the Fair Maid’s House, an architectural gem that is Perth’s oldest secular building and home to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Surrounded by shelves of historic maps and books, globes, and comfy leather chairs, there is really no better spot to hear stories of extraordinary quests for adventure from all corners of the globe.

Browse the festival programme, or visit the Perthshire Adventure Festival’s booking website to get your tickets for activities and talks. Discover more about accommodation and attractions in and around Perth, and get planning your trip to the region!

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Amy Robertson

Amy is media executive at VisitScotland. Hailing from the west coast of Scotland, she's rather fond of music festivals, coastal walks, whisky and coal fires.

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