9 Reasons to Choose Scotland For Your January Break

January is a month of roaring fires, wintry landscapes, dark nights and woolly hats. Have you heard of the Scottish word ‘coorie’? Like the Danish word ‘hygge’, it means a sense of snugness and winter cosiness. Embrace the idea of coorie by visiting Scotland in January and begin the new year with crisp walks, amazing events and drams of whisky.

  1. Travel is Cheaper Scotland

    Planes at Islay Airport

    One of the benefits of travelling in the quieter months is that you will tend to find there are better deals on flights and accommodation, making January the perfect time for a cheap city break or romantic country escape. Not only will you save money on travel, you’ll find that there are less visitors at this time of year, making for a more private, quiet, intimate experience at some of Scotland’s most iconic attractions.

  2. Snowsports Scottish Highlands

    Two snowboarders at Lecht Ski Centre

    © Steven McKenna

    There are five mountain centres in Scotland. The Lecht 2090, Glenshee Ski Centre and Cairngorm Mountain are all located within the Cairngorms National Park and you’ll find Glencoe Mountain and Nevis Range out west in Lochaber.

    Find out more about snow conditions in Scotland, lift passes, equipment hire, lessons and even how to get started.

    There’s nothing quite like enjoying a ‘bluebird’ day on the slopes, before heading back to a roaring log fire and a dram or even a sauna or hot tub in your overnight accommodation.

  3. Picturesque winter landscapes Across Scotland

    View from The Lecht Pass on the SnowRoads Scenic Route

    Put on your best walking boots and blow the cobwebs away with a winter walk. January brings dramatic light and crystal-clear views. There is something about winter that also adds a little extra magic to photographs. Why not make January your moment to discover Scotland and look for the perfect shot? Your Instagram followers will love your dedication.

  4. Comforting Scottish Fare Across Scotland

    Haggis, neeps and tatties

    Despite what you may have heard, January is no time for dieting – especially if you’re going on holiday. Scotland produces some of the most sought-after natural produce in the world, and you’re bound to be hungry after an exciting day of touring. Scottish specialities include haggis (accompanied by mashed potatoes, turnips and a whisky sauce), Aberdeen Angus beef and Scottish wild salmon. Vegetarian haggis is also on the menu! If all that doesn’t warm you up, try a nip of whisky; touring a distillery is a great way to discover Scotland’s national drink.

  5. Winter Wildlife Spotting Across Scotland

    Red Deer Stag, Glen Etive

    It will be cold in January but, in the grand scheme of things, Scotland has a relatively temperate climate. This means you’ll have a great chance of spotting wildlife. Many small mammals will hibernate during the winter, but bigger animals are still in action, and they are often easier to spot because there is less foliage. You are more likely to see red deer in winter than in summer as they move down from the high ground to eat. The Highlands is the place to see these majestic creatures, but they’re also found on the islands of Arran, Jura and Rum.

    If you are visiting the mountains, keep your eyes on the sky as you might catch a glimpse of golden eagles hunting hare and other small prey. Nearer the coast you may also see white-tailed sea eagles. Remember to dress in warm, waterproof layers if you are out looking for wildlife.

    Don’t forget the humble Highland Coo

  6. Dark sky parks and the Northern Lights Across Scotland

    Kirroughtree Forest

    © VisitScotland / David N Anderson

    One of the best things to do when the nights are long and dark in January is to see the night sky filled with dazzling stars. Scotland is home to some of the largest areas of dark sky in Europe, these places are often found in rural areas which experience low or practically non-existent levels of light pollution.

    If you’re lucky enough, you might even see the Northern Lights in all their glory. This incredible natural spectacle tends to be spotted in the north of the country, but if conditions are right you may see it further south too. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, the phenomenon is caused by charged particles bouncing off the earth’s upper atmosphere. What results is a kaleidoscopic show of colourful light streaking across the sky. A real privilege to behold.

  7. Celebrate Burns Night Across Scotland

    Prestonfield House featuring light projections celebrating Robert Burns

    Looking for the perfect antidote to a cold January night? If you are around on the 25 January then book a seat at a Burns supper. A celebration of all things Robert Burns, these lively evenings are a great Scottish tradition celebrated all over the world. But there’s nothing quite like celebrating the life of Scotland’s national poet right here in Scotland! Be prepared for good company, delicious Scottish food and a bit of poetry, not to mention bagpipes, tartan and whisky – all part and parcel of a good Burns night.

  8. Celtic Connections Glasgow

    Celtic Connections

    © Glasgow Life / Gaelle Beri

    Burns night isn’t the only event you can go to in January, we’ve picked another Scottish favourite that might spark your interest. Celtic Connections is a folk, roots and world music festival that takes place every January in Glasgow. You can look forward to concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, workshops, and free events featuring lesser-known as well as more established acts. Cure those January blues with music!

  9. Warm up your winter nights with a fire festival Across Scotland

    Up Helly Aa

    © VisitScotland / Luigi Di Pasquale

    January is about to get a few degrees hotter here in Scotland. Our sizzling array of fire festivals play a huge part in local culture helping to bring ancient Celtic and Viking traditions to life in a dazzling evening spectacle.

    Head to Burning of the Clavie in Burghead, Moray which is held on 11 January each year (except if it falls on a Sunday, it takes place on the 10th). Back in the 1750s, the old Julian calendar was reformed and the Georgian calendar was brought in with the residents of Burghead still continuing to celebrate the Old Hogmanay. The Clavie (a burning barrel of staves) is paraded through the town and is believed to bring good luck throughout the year.

    Party in style just like the Vikings at Up Helly Aa in Lerwick, Shetland. Taking place the last Tuesday in January, the evening begins with a flaming torch procession before setting fire to a replica Viking longship and singing the traditional song The Norseman’s Home.

Planning a visit in 2024?

Check out our exciting events calendar to see what’s taking place throughout the year.

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