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Midsummer Nights in Scotland

Steve Duncan - View Comments

From a music festival to a beach barbecue and spectacular sunsets over beautiful vistas, to a dusk walk at 10pm, the extended daylight hours of summer provide lots of time for Scottish experiences that you’ve maybe not considered before. Make the most of Scotland this midsummer, with some of the suggestions below.

1. Enjoy a midsummer event

The Scottish Crannog Centre, Loch Tay, Perthshire

Get along to one of these brilliant midsummer events. But don’t forget there’s also a massive selection of festivals, including the Edinburgh International Festival, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year and a raft of Highland games, taking place throughout the summer.

  •  The West End Festival is Glasgow’s largest cultural festival. This year it’s running from 2 – 25 June and will feature over 400 events across 80 different venues.
  • St Magnus International Festival from 16 – 24 June is Orkney’s midsummer festival of the arts, with music, drama, dance and literature all featuring in this well-loved community event, where visitors are very welcome.
  • Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival offers over 50 different events between 16 – 25 June. There’s lots of themed walks, watersports, family events and even a film night at Scotland’s midsummer walking festival.
  • Celebrate the summer solstice with Midsummer Music in a replica Iron Age crannog on the shores of Loch Tay. Taking place on 21 June, experience a captivating blend of traditional music, a crackling fire and the unique ambience of the crannog.
  • Taking place between 23 – 25 June just outside Perth, the Solas Festival offers a packed programme of live music, talks, storytelling and recitals with lots to keep the wee ones entertained.

2. Head for the hills at dusk

Loch Affric and Glen Affric, Highlands © VisitBritain/Britain on View

There’s something a little bit magical about the idea of heading into Scotland’s mountains as the sun goes down, when everyone else is returning home from their day in the hills.

Long midsummer evenings, moonlight and a forecast of clear skies, are the perfect combination for enjoying sunsets over summits, high-level star gazing and nocturnal nature. With the right planning, preparation, skills and respect for the risks, midsummer hillwalking around dusk can be an awesome experience.

Mountaineering Scotland has given us some great advice for twilight hillwalking:

  • Choose the right night – clear, warm, settled
  • Don’t be too ambitious – follow good paths and start out low
  • Take the essential kit – head torch, shelter, clothing layers
  • Get the hills skills – navigation, navigation, navigation
  • Keep company – find a friend, a club or a guide

Read their ten tips for heading to the hills from dusk to dawn before you venture out.

3. Try twilight golf

Royal Dornoch golf course, Sutherland © Glyn Satterley

Fancy teeing off at 10pm or even midnight? The Highlands and the northern and western islands can have up to 19 hours of daylight at this time of year. So why not play a round of golf with a difference and tee off in the still of twilight?

Whilst clubhouses and facilities might be closed for the day, courses aren’t and if there’s no-one to take your green fees, honesty boxes are a charming and easy way to pay for your round.

Head for one of the four courses on Shetland, perhaps the Dale at Shetland Golf Club? Or try one of the five courses on Orkney – the views to the Isle of Hoy from Stromness golf course, for instance, are hard to beat. Durness in the North Highlands offers golf from dawn to dusk, as does Brora Links in Sutherland and the course at Traigh near Arisaig, set amidst stunning coastal scenery, is a gem not to be missed.

4. Experience a spiritual summer solstice

Ring of Brodgar, Mainland, Orkney © Iain Sarjeant

Orkney’s historic and spiritual heritage dates back over 5,000 years and on these islands you’ll find some of the best–preserved Neolithic monuments in Europe, especially significant in 2017, Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. Midsummer and the summer solstice on 21 June is one of the best times to experience the mystical qualities of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Alternatively, step back in time during the summer solstice and explore other fascinating historic sites on our islands.

The Standing Stones of Calanais, Dun Carloway Broch and the replica Iron Age house at Bosta beach on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides are sure to enthral.

Or why not visit the ruins of Jarlshof, Old Scatness wheelhouse and the impressive Broch of Mousa in the Shetland Isles?

5. Taste Shetland’s ‘Simmer Dim’

Shetland Reel Simmer Dim gin © The Shetland Distillery Company Ltd

The sun barely sets in the Shetland Islands at this time of year, so why not plan a trip and really make the most of summer?

Head for the most northerly of the islands, Unst, where you’ll find Valhalla Brewery – the UK’s most northerly brewery, which produces a delicious golden Simmer Dim (a Shetlander term for summer twilight) ale.

Or you could visit the Saxa Vord Distillery (the UK’s most northerly), also on Unst and try some Shetland Reel Simmer Dim Limited Edition Gin, which is flavoured with orange peel, orris root, liquorice root, caraway and juniper.