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How to Experience Scotland & Scottish Culture at Home

You don’t need to leave the house to experience Scotland – oh no! You can celebrate all things Scottish from the comfort of your own home – our music, history, food and drink, dance and most importantly, a bit of fun. None of these things are cancelled. There are still loads of ways to enjoy ourselves at home – in true Scottish style!

Step back in time with virtual tours of some of our favourite historic attractions, learn a spot of Gaelic, or why not enjoy a night at the ballet, a ceilidh or at a hilarious comedy show?

With these experiences, you can still enjoy some of the thrills that Scotland has to offer, and the good news is – we’re not going anywhere.

1. Explore inside Scotland’s top attractions

Edinburgh Castle

Some of the Scotland’s most renowned cultural landmarks are offering online visitors virtual access to their spectacular spaces and treasures. Check out the Google Arts and Culture app which enable users to take 360° tours of select area of the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle and check out Rosslyn Chapel’s amazing virtual tour.

Get a taste of what it’s like to be a tourist in Scotland with the fantastic Augmented Reality (AR) app – Portal AR.

2. Listen to trad music melodies

Few things stir the soul like the beautiful sound of traditional Scottish music, and there are plenty of ways you can enjoy live performances real-time throughout this period. Tune in to Scotland’s Big Session ceilidh hosted virtually each day #LiveatFive by MacGregor’s bar in Inverness and join in the toe-tapping fun with trad music lovers from around the world. For more live-streamed ceilidh events, search #COVIDCeilidh on social media and enjoy fantastic performances from artists such as fiddler Duncan Chisholm and many others. You can also enjoy solo performances from the talented students and staff of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as part of its #RCSatHome sessions.

 3. Have your own virtual festival experience

We’ll have to wait another year for the Edinburgh Summer Festivals – the world’s largest arts festival held in Scotland’s capital each month during August. Fortunately, many Scottish arts companies, venues and performers have announced their intention to live-stream performances, events and other interactive activities, allowing viewers a taste of the world-leading and richly diverse culture that can be experienced year-round. A night at the theatre? Yes please!

Here are some ways you can stay connected to Scotland’s arts and culture:

  • The town of Hawick will celebrate the Common Riding season with three online concerts featuring guest appearances and musical talent. Watch live on Facebook.
  • Watch mesmerising performances by the Scottish Ballet, or join in a live fitness dance class with Scottish Ballet on Facebook, Monday to Friday, at 11:30am?
  • Gather around the virtual ‘campfire’ with Marjolein Robertson, a comedian, storyteller and Edinburgh Festival veteran. Join her each evening as she live streams a Shetland folktale and shares hilarious stories about her experiences performing.
  • Tune in to YouTube and witness the musical mastery of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as its members perform in isolation.
  • Join with the Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s online series featuring poetry, storytelling, music and children’s workshops.
  • You don’t have to miss out on exciting theatre performances while at home. The National Theatre of Scotland is bringing you three spectacular events and online workshops to explore and get involved in:
    Scenes for Survival – a new season of over 40 digital artworks created in response to the current Covid-19 outbreak.
    Makar to Makar – Join in a new series of live streamed conversation, spoken word, poetry and music gigs from Jackie Kay, showcasing literary talent from Scotland and around the world.
  • Edinburgh Art Festival – 30 Jul- 30 Aug. The festival have invited ten international and Scottish artists from previous festival editions, to mark the dates of what would have been their 2020 festival. The programme will include online screenings and live performances via website and a small number of projects appearing in public sites around the city.
  • Cowal Highland Gathering – 27 – 29 August. Streamed live in episodes over three days, CHG20 will celebrate achievements past and present, travel when the contestants and audience cannot and bring people from all over the world to Cowal.
  • Stirling Highland Games – 15 August. Tune into The Best of Stirling with Stirling Highland Games, a fantastic virtual event, where you can experience a flavour of what Stirling is like.
  • Braemar Highland Games – 29 August. Join in with an online extravaganza that will see pipe bands, traditional events, Highland dancing, races and more. Although we can’t be there to cheer on the competitors in person, this virtual event will be energetic it will make you feel like you’re amidst all the action.
  • Orkney International Science Festival – 3 – 9 Sept. Join in the virtual 30th anniversary festival celebration featuring talks, outings, walks, workshops, and events with music, or food and drink and a special focus on the Year of Coasts & Water.
  • Edinburgh Festival Fringe – 1 – 31 Aug. Tune in to a series of digital events including “Fringe on a Friday” a 60 min variety show bringing a range of genres from cabaret to comedy, “Fringe Pick n Mix” staged in living rooms which captures artists and audiences clips, “Edinburgh Unlocked” an exclusive comedy festival in audiobook format brought by Penguin Random House and “Comedy Central” a spotlight on 10 rising comedians in a series of 7 minute stand-up episodes.
  • LGBTI+ Elders Social Dance Club – Calling all LGBTI+ Elders and allies – dust off your dancing shoes, charge your glasses and get ready for ONLINE DANCE CLUB! We might not be able to meet in person but we can use the magic of technology to connect, chat and boogie. Just like regular dance clubs you can join in however feels right for you.

If that wasn’t enough to satisfy your culture enthusiasm, some of Scotland’s most popular and exciting events have joined in the fun to host their very own virtual festival experience.

  • Wigtown Book Festival – this event is every book enthusiast’s dream, with hundreds of like-minded people, as well as authors, poets, literary geniuses and more, flocking to the pretty Dumfries & Galloway town each year. Delve into capturing audio and pre-recorded live events and let your imagination run wild.
  • Nevis Ensemble – calling all musicians! The incredible Nevis Ensemble is putting together Musical Postcards which will consist of 2 minute long works for solo instruments that are inspired and influenced by photography of Scotland’s coasts and waters sent in by you!
  • Scottish Mental Health Awareness Festival – another fantastic festival bringing you all kinds of performances, including theatre, film, documentaries, support sessions and lots more, which all explore the important topic of mental health. The festival will be live streaming their performances until 19 June, so now’s the time to get involved!
  • The Tartan Noir Show – get sucked into the world of crime writing with Theresa Talbot in these gripping and intense weekly podcasts. Exploring the very best of the genre, the podcasts will feature some incredible works from a variety of renowned names, such as Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Ian Rankin and many more.

Explore more virtual and live streaming events of all genres and topics to keep you busy with The List.

4. Stream Scotland to your living room

Disney’s Brave (2012)

One of the best ways to experience Scotland is through the magic of cinema and television. Thanks to the availability of streaming platforms including Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, it’s never been easier to transport yourself to a Scottish world via your TV, smartphone or tablet. Whether you’re a fan of musical sing-a-longs like Sunshine on Leith or the brilliant comedy drama Local Hero, light-hearted escapism like Monarch of the Glen or heartwarming animations such as Brave, there’s a huge catalogue of series and movies to choose from.

Not sure where to start? See our list of incredible feel-good films set in Scotland to add to your watch list.

5. Learn Gaelic and Old Scots

Join more than 125,000 people who have already signed up to learn Gaelic – Scotland’s indigenous language – via the hugely popular free language-learning app, Duolingo. One of the platform’s fastest-ever-growing courses, it’s a great way to get to grips with this uniquely poetic language which features occasionally in the blockbuster series Outlander, and has been experiencing a gradual revival in Scotland.

The Open University also offers a free course that teaches the Old Scots language and culture, which was spoken by Robert Burns. You can even immerse yourself in the Shetlandic dialect spoken by native Shetlanders which you can hear spoken by Shetland poet Christine De Luca.

Find out more about Gaelic.

6. Create your very own cocktail hour using Scottish craft gin products

It might not be as glamorous as sitting on the beach or at a fancy restaurant with a cocktail in hand but that shouldn’t stop you from making the most out of your night indoors. Have fun and create your very own concoction with a range of Scottish craft gins to choose from.

Edinburgh Gin have even put together a list of cocktail recipes for you to try out, will it be a Raspberry Gin Fizz or a Bramble Spritz that takes your fancy? Whether you decide to dress up for a quarantine cocktail party with friends over video chat or perhaps take part in an online pub quiz, sipping on one of your own creations is a great alternative until we can head out again.

7. Get up close to wildlife

Our wildlife doesn’t believe in social distancing, and still wants to come out and say hello this spring – so don’t miss out! Gain a newfound understanding and appreciation of Scotland’s natural world Speyside Wildlife. Join their new wildlife identification course to learn about the sheer diversity of Scottish wildlife which inhabits this stunning area located between the Highlands and Aberdeenshire. Tune in via their Facebook page to hear the live-streamed chorus of local birds at dawn and dusk and choose from an ever-expanded series of mini-masterclasses on various bird species and other creatures. Share your sounds using #dailybirdsong.

Join Wilderness Scotland via Facebook for regular live chats, musical performances celebrating wildlife, whisky and more!

Watch these natural encounters with our Scottish Wildlife series and get a bird’s eye view of Scotland from Above.

8. Take a whistle-stop tour around Scotland’s whisky distilleries

Although a trip to Scotland may not be on the cards just yet, there is nothing stopping you from taking a virtual tour around some of the country’s well-known distilleries with The Glenturret, Talisker and Laphroaig offering 360° tours online. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society have even launched their own Online Member’s Room providing a virtual space for the global whisky community to come together and enjoy all things whisky, from home tastings to online masterclasses.

Interested in whisky but don’t know where to start? Watch Scotch Whisky: Explained and our Scotch Whisky Q&A with expert Richard Patterson.

9. Immerse yourself in Scotland with VisitScotland’s visual experiences

Oban from above

Whether you’d like to climb a mountain, visit a castle, go to a ceilidh or simply unwind to the sounds of the Scottish landscape, you can still have these experiences and they’re just a few clicks away. Try some of these:

We hope you enjoy these ideas and we look forward to welcoming you to Scotland again in the future.

Why not head over to Creative Scotland where you can explore more virtual experiences, including art, literature, music, films, theatre and so much more?

Explore more fun Scottish things to do at home, or why not try sketching some of Scotland’s popular landmarks?



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