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Holidays

How to support local in Scotland this winter

We've seen some incredible innovation and kindness from small businesses across Scotland in 2020, and this is our chance to thank them with #ScotlandLovesLocal. They've kept us fed, watered, entertained and well-rested and made life just a little bit easier during a really difficult time.

Whether it's a local butcher, a distillery making hand sanitiser or the gift shop where you bought your first mask, we've relied on the shops within walking distance.

And when the country was able to open up, we took advantage of the accommodation owners, tour providers, attractions and activity operators who gave up their own time to clean, re-organise and welcome us again for a short break in Scotland.

Then there's the cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs who gave us somewhere to see our family and friends over delicious food and a glass of something.

They've supported us through it all. And now it's time for us to support them.

Things are tough right now, but there's still a way we can all support our local businesses and ensure they're still here in 2021 and beyond.

So buy your Christmas dinner supplies from your local high street food shops. Visit that gallery and gift shop for a Christmas present. Treat yourself to a change of scene and a night at a local hotel. Explore that museum you drive past on the way to work every day.

Here are some great ways to support local this December. How will you show that #ScotlandLovesLocal?

See our:

Eat, Drink & Sleep

Food & Drink

Online whisky

Barman mixing cocktails Malt Barn Bar Glenfiddich

There are over 120 active distilleries spread across Scotland, which are split into five whisky-producing regions; Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside. Where a whisky is made can have a huge bearing on its flavour, everything from the source of the water to the presence of peat in the local area will come through in the taste.

Chances are there is a distillery in your area which you can visit and pick up a gift or two. But if not, plenty of distilleries offer whisky to buy online, or are even doing tours and tastings online.

Check out our whisky map to find a distillery.

Craft Beer

Beer is pretty big business in Scotland. With more than 100 breweries operating across the country, the variety and quality of beer and ale being produced and served in Scotland's bars and pubs is greater than ever. Check out these breweries for a different pairing for your Christmas dinner, or for gifts for friends and family.

Check out breweries in Scotland.

Cafés

Want a moment to yourself to write to Santa, finish your Christmas shopping list, or even start drawing up your holiday plans for 2021? We put together a great list of cafés to write in, and these aren't just for the budding authors out there.

Take 30 minutes for yourself in your local café and enjoy a relaxing hot drink and a delicious cake or treat.

ONLINE FOOD & DRINK BUSINESSES

Cocoa Black, Peebles

It is still possible to enjoy a little taste of Scotland - by ordering delicious Scottish food and drink online, directly from Scotland's brilliant and hard-working food and drink producers and online retailers. Or why not check and see if your favourite restaurant is offering a takeaway menu and recreate a restaurant atmosphere at home? Sample some of the highest quality produce around, whilst supporting great local businesses. Win-win.

Check out these 18 amazing Scottish food & drink businesses to order from.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea is the treat we all deserve this year – sitting down with a friend to sumptuous cakes, a glass of fizz, gallons of Scottish tea in a beautiful setting. Bliss! Take some time out for yourself or treat a friend or family member to an afternoon to remember.

Here’s just a few places where you can enjoy an afternoon tea in Scotland.

Farmers' Markets & Shops

We all love a delicious Christmas dinner (and all the other festival meals of course!) but is can be even better to sit down to a meal and know exactly where everything came from. Make the most of the beautiful Scottish produce on your doorstep by visiting your local farm shop for fresh vegetables, cheese, meat or a tipple or two of local drinks!

Find a farmers' market or shop near you.

Vegan food

The vegan dining scene in Scotland is an exciting and growing space. With 100% vegan cafés and restaurants cropping up in our cities, towns and countryside spots, each one experiments with special twists on traditional Scottish food, mixed in with healthy and cruelty-free ingredients.

Discover relaxed vegan cafés and restaurants, shops and markets filled with home-grown produce, and even vegan accommodation.

See more about food & drink in Scotland.

Gift ideas

Christmas is a time for giving and with the big day almost upon us, it’s time to start looking for the perfect gift for family or friends. Although the festivities might be slightly smaller this year, spread the love with a heartfelt and meaningful gift.

From home decorations and jewellery, to artisan gin or whisky for Christmas and New Year toasts, we have a bumper selection of gift ideas to help you get through your Christmas shopping list.

VisitScotland iCentres

There are 26 VisitScotland iCentres around the country. As well as helping with ideas for days out and short breaks, they stock a fantastic range of quality gifts that would make ideal Christmas presents. Look out for silk scarves, gorgeous-smelling toiletries and handmade jewellery - which all comes from local artisans based around the country.

Find your local iCentre.

Business heroes

Businesses of all shapes and sizes across Scotland changed things up this year, finding new ways to work with fresh and innovative ideas. We've cherry picked just some Scottish businesses who are out in force supporting a variety of local businesses, industries, and communities.

Feel uplifted with our pick of the latest good news stories from across Scotland, and see how you can support them by shopping with them this December.

Shop Local

Virtual events & experiences

Farm tours

Aikenshill farm cow

Scottish farms have been doing a grand job in keeping our cupboards stocked, but do you know how they actually work? Learn more about the innovation happening on Scotland's farms, how they've diversified during lockdown, and why a farm can make an amazing spot for a holiday in 2021.

Farm tours are running on Facebook throughout December, so you don't have to leave your house to find out! Find out more on farm holidays in Scotland.

Virtual events

One of the best things about events going virtual this year, is that you can attend absolutely anything! So make the most of this chance to soak up Scottish culture and traditions from across the country with performances, celebrations, talks and much more. We're updating our list of virtual events all the time, so keep checking back for something new!

See all of our virtual events in Scotland.

Scottish traditional music

Beat the winter blues with some uplifting Scottish music! Traditional music and Gaelic songs have been at the heart of Scottish culture for centuries and it has never been more important to come together and support the talented Scottish musicians that are part of the unique and vibrant traditional folk music scene.

So put these talented people on in the background while you wrap presents, or put on your dancing shoes for some foot-stomping tunes by the most exciting contemporary folk musicians and singers.

Find traditional Scottish musicians.

Winter Festivals

Christmas Lights

Thanks to some great innovation and Scottish spirit, events this year have moved online, so we can continue to celebrate winter and culture in Scotland. The start of this month marked St Andrew's Day, but there's more to come for Christmas, Hogmanay and Burns Night.

Check out our winter festivals in Scotland.

Tracing your roots

Does your family have connections to one of Scotland's well-known clans? Learn about where in Scotland the clans have their ancestral roots, or find which castles are connected to which clans and discover these stories for yourself.

Find out more about tracing your ancestry, or find a professional genealogist or ancestry tour for 2021 to help you with your search.

Or for fun, we matched each whisky region to a Scottish clan or family name associated with that area. Maybe yours is on the list! Check if you have a dramcestor.

Scotland's wildlife

Scotland's landscapes are home to an incredible array of wildlife that you can find in all nooks, crannies and corners of the country. Why not use this time at home to find out more about the different wildlife that you might find in your area? Wild Scotland has some great information on wildlife, and details of outdoor activities, tours and accommodation you can book in your area to go and see what you can spot!

Find out more from Wild Scotland.

Year of Coasts and Waters 2020/21

Water is the lifeblood of our glorious green countryside. It's what makes the landscape so special and loved, whether you're exploring the coastline by kayak or paddleboard, wild swimming in one of our famous lochs, savouring some delicious Scottish seafood, enjoying a warming single malt whisky or uncovering the secrets of a coastal fortress.

The Year of Coasts and Waters will continue into 2021 with more opportunities to explore and share your favourite local spots.

How to be a "hame town" tourist

Museums, galleries, historic ships, living farms - these attractions shouldn't just be kept for long summer holidays. They are the perfect afternoon out or the ideal hour to yourself as you admire fascinating objects and learn more about history and culture. Check out the attractions in your own backyard and you'll find a great story to share.

See Scotland's attractions and be a "hame town" tourist.

Best winter walks

Cruden Bay

The crisp winter days and chilly nights are here in Scotland, but that doesn't mean we have to 'coorie' away indoors all the time. In fact, our winter weather makes for some incredible conditions and scenic moments to get out and explore the outdoors. Grab your cosy jackets, warm hats and gloves, and some weather-appropriate shoes, and let's go exploring!

Check out these winter walks.

Snowsports

Maybe you usually jet off to Europe or beyond for your winter snow, but a Scottish 'snowcation' at one of our six fabulous mountain ski centres can be a great day out as well. Find answers to all your questions, ideas for the top six winter staycations and information on the best ski centres in Scotland.

Read our guide to winter snow days in Scotland.

City Walking Tours

A walking tour is a great way to see your own city in a different light, and maybe something you haven't thought of trying before. Give it a go or gift it to a friend as a present. There are lots of walking and other tours right across Scotland - both tours you can try now in your own area, and tours to inspire dreams of longer breaks in 2021.

Check out these tour operators in Scotland to start you off.

Film locations on your doorstep

Jacobite Steam Train

This country has produced its fair share of top Hollywood names, and there have been an amazing number of movies and TV series filmed in Scotland too. Our jaw-dropping scenery provides the perfect backdrop for the camera, with rugged landscapes and ethereal geological features which will have everyone watching in awe. Admit it - including you!

Explore your region this winter and see what locations you can find - or give a new spot the star treatment and share it on social media for the world to admire.

Out & About

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