We love a good whisky festival here in Scotland. It’s no wonder – after all, the term ‘whisky’ comes from the Gaelic uisge beatha, which translates as the ‘water of life’. And anything called the ‘water of life’ must be worthy of a bit of a celebration, surely?
We’ve put together a list of great Scottish whisky festivals and events from all across the country that take place in 2020. They are the perfect place to sample whiskies from different regions. Who knows – you might even find your favourite dram!
Fife Whisky Festival
6 – 8 March, Cupar, Fife
The Fife Whisky Festival, heading into its third year in 2020, will again take place at the historic Corn Exchange in Cupar and will showcase the finest whiskies from the Kingdom of Fife and beyond. In 2019, over 30 exhibitors offered a huge range of whiskies to try as well as tasting samples at exhibitor stands. The live entertainment programme is also a big feature of this festival.
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival
29 April – 4 May, various locations across Moray Speyside
Join whisky lovers from far and wide in romantic Speyside for a unique and varied whisky festival programme. The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is one of the most popular in Scotland and filled with special manager and behind-the-scenes distillery tours, whisky and food pairings, whisky tours by train or 4×4, sensory experiences, ceilidhs, whisky-themed walks and more, held across a huge range of iconic distilleries and local venues.
Highland Whisky Festival
8 – 15 May, various locations
The Highland Whisky Festival is gearing up for a return in 2020, following its very successful inaugural year in 2019. Showcasing eight of the finest distilleries along the North Coast 500 over eight days, join exclusive tastings, tours and events at Balblair, Clynelish, Glenmorangie, Old Pulteney, The Dalmore, The Singleton of Glen Ord, Tomatin and Wolfburn and taste some truly iconic Highland single malts. Each distillery will host one full day of the festival and this year’s promises to be another cracker!
Stirling Whisky Festival
9 May, Stirling
Stirling Highland Hotel is transformed into a whisky lover’s paradise during the Stirling Whisky Festival, featuring top distillers from all over Scotland. You can opt for a ticket which also allows entry to a whisky masterclass where you will have the chance to try special and rare malts and go on a remarkable whisky journey.
World Whisky Day
16 May, various locations
Raise a glass to Scotland’s national drink on World Whisky Day. All you need is a bottle of whisky and some friends. Though you could opt to attend an associated whisky-themed event, such as the combined history tour with whisky tasting by Mercat Tours held in Edinburgh’s ancient Blair Street underground vaults. Or why not head to your favourite whisky bar or plan a visit to a distillery?
Hebridean Whisky Trail Festival
20 – 23 May, various venues on the isles of Skye, Raasay and Harris
This whisky festival took place for the first time in 2019 and looks set to return in 2020. The festival includes whisky tastings, local food and drink and the four distilleries along the Hebridean Whisky Trail (Isle of Harris Distillers, Isle of Raasay Distillery, Torabhaig Distillery and Talisker Distillery) will feature alongside the Sligachan Hotel and Cuillin Brewery and the Aros Centre. Come along and show your support for this brilliant festival set amidst some of the UK’s finest scenery.
Fèis Ìle – The Islay Festival of Music and Malt
22 – 30 May, Isle of Islay
Set sail (or fly) to the enchanting Isle of Islay, Scotland’s whisky island, for Fèis Ìle. Expect a warm Hebridean welcome and great craic as you explore the distilleries and sample whiskies with the island’s famous peaty flavours. The festival also offers a taste of the unique island culture of Islay, with the programme featuring Gaelic and traditional music, ceilidhs, as well as events covering golf, history, natural heritage and more.
Edinburgh Whisky Stramash
23 – 24 May, Edinburgh
‘A glorious rammy of whisky’ is what the organisers call it, and we couldn’t agree more. Set in the opulent and historic Surgeon’s Hall on Nicholson Street, the Edinburgh Whisky Stramash is the whisky event which doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are plenty of whisky experiences to take part in – some of them quite whimsical in nature – which showcase whiskies from both Scotland and beyond.
Edinburgh Whisky Festival
6 June, Edinburgh
The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh is where you can find the Edinburgh Whisky Festival, a one-day event which will delight whisky fans. Included in the price of your ticket is the sampling of whisky from all of the exhibitors. There are also some rare and more exclusive whiskies available to purchase, or you can educate your senses at whisky masterclasses.
Spirit of Speyside: Distilled
September – final dates TBC, Elgin, Moray Speyside
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You might be familiar with the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival held each spring, but whisky is something to savour all year round! Brought to you by the organisers of the Spirit of Speyside Festival, Distilled takes place in Elgin Town Hall and whisky distillers will be in great company, as they are joined by brewers, gin crafters, food producers and more. Why not stay over for a few nights before or after and explore the region and Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail?
Spirit of the North Festival
26 September, Inverness, Highlands
The Spirit of the North Festival will again take place at Bogbain Farm overlooking the Moray Firth, just south of the Highland Capital. The organisers promise that this big day out will be an adventure from start to finish! There will be live music throughout the day and a Fired Up Scotland pop up restaurant will again serve the very best of Scottish cuisine.
17 October, Moray Speyside
Now this is an event with a difference – Dramathon is a marathon distance race where whisky is very much the motivation! Running part of the Speyside Way from Glenfarclas Distillery to Glenfiddich Distillery, you can race distances of a full marathon, a half-marathon, a 10K or a relay race. Along the way, get stamped as you pass distilleries to collect whisky miniatures at the finish line. It won’t just be the whisky that will warm you up!
The Islay Whisky Academy Diploma
26 – 30 October, The Gaelic College, Bowmore, Islay
Learn enough to start your own distillery with the Islay Whisky Academy. This whisky symposium takes place on Scotland’s whisky island, which is now home to nine fine distilleries. Spend your time learning about whisky production with knowledge shared by distillers, barley experts, chemists, coppersmiths, coopers, brand ambassadors and more.
The Dornoch Whisky Festival
30 October – 1 November, Dornoch
Now in its fifth year, the Dornoch Whisky Festival showcases the best Scottish whiskies, alongside the finest Highland food and hospitality right in the heart of the North Highlands. Festival venues include Dornoch Castle Hotel, famed for its award-winning whisky bar, the Carnegie Whisky Cellars, Thompson Bros. at Dornoch Distillery and the revered Royal Dornoch Golf Club. Come for a dram or two and leave with new friends and wonderful memories of the festival and this stunning part of Scotland.
Glasgow Whisky Festival
21 November, Hampden Park, Glasgow
This festival brings Scotland’s national drink to the country’s national stadium. Whisky lovers flock to the Glasgow Whisky Festival at Hampden Park to sample and savour a wide range of great whiskies. This festival also showcases the distilleries which are closest to Glasgow along with the city’s independent bottlers.
There are lots of other whisky events taking place throughout the year, including tastings and food pairings – why not find a whisky event taking place when you visit? Or, find a distillery and take a tour.
For information on local distilleries, check out our Scottish Whisky Distilleries Guide!