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Up Helly Aa, Shetland © Alex Mazurov


Authentic events you can only experience in Scotland

So you've soaked up the history of Scotland's castles and snapped pictures of countless stunning views, now how do you go about experiencing true Scottish culture?

Check out the cultural events below to take part in real Scottish traditions and experiences.

Skip to Scottish culture events in:

January, February & March

April, May & June

July, August & September

October, November & December

*Please note that due to the current COVID-19 advice, any large events are subject to cancellation. If you are planning to visit in 2020, please check the event website for the latest information.*

  1. Celtic Connections - 16 January - 2 February 2020 - the UK's premier celebration of Celtic music. Hear folk, roots and world music from more than 2,000 musicians in Glasgow.
  2. Burns Night - 25 January - our annual celebration of Robert Burns' life. Tip: events sometimes take place before and after 25 January, so it's worth double checking the dates.
  3. Up Helly Aa - January - March 2020 - Mesmerising Viking themed fire festivals taking in Shetland rural communities. The largest and best known is Up Helly Aa in Lerwick on 28 January, but there are a total of 12 festivals every winter, from the  most northerly one Norwick Up Helly Aa on 29 February to the youngest one  South Mainland Up Helly on 13 March. You won't forget the sight of 1,000 people carrying flaming torches in a hurry!
  4. Fort William Mountain Festival - 19 - 23 February 2020 - hear stories of epic adventures and survival from world-class speakers, plus amazing films and much more.
  5. StAnza: Scotland's Poetry Festival - 4 - 8 March 2020 - taking place in St Andrews, this poetry extravaganza boasts around 100 readings, performances and discussions, with past headliners including Jackie Kay, Robert Crawford and Kathleen Jamie.
  1. Melrose Rugby Sevens - POSTPONED - the premier event of the Rugby Sevens calendar, see teams competing in this fast and furious competition in the town where it all began.
  2. TradFest - 1 - 11 May 2020 - experience Scotland's traditional folk roots over 11 days in Edinburgh, with storytelling, traditional music, film, art and much more.
  3. Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival - 29 April - 4 May 2020 - a five day whisky extravaganza in the renowned whisky region of Speyside, located east of Inverness. Events include special whisky tastings, exclusive tours of distilleries, music performances and whisky dinners.
  4. Shetland Folk Festival - 29 April - 2 May 2021 - Don't miss the 40th anniversary of this legendary event, the UK's most northerly folk festival, which brings eclectic and innovative line ups of performers to the isles from traditional folk to americana music.
  5. Orkney Nature Festival - 9 - 17 May 2020 - Join the celebrations and enjoy the best of wild Orkney. Take part in activities such as cruises around some of the largest cliffs in Britain, nature photography classes with local experts, guided walks amongst choruses of birdsong, and maybe even discover an island you’ve not visited before.
  6. Whisky Month - May - there's no better place to enjoy whisky than in the country that it was born in. Look out for whisky events throughout May and make sure you enjoy a dram on World Whisky Day, the third Saturday in May each year.
  7. Royal Highland Show - 18 - 21 June 2020 - Scotland's largest farming and countryside showcase, located just outside Edinburgh. See horse and cattle showing, try mouth-watering local produce, browse arts and crafts and more.
  8. Scottish Traditional Boat Festival - 20 - 21 June 2020 - soak up the charm of this quirky traditional boat festival. See large historic boats and tuck into tasty food and drink, all set against the backdrop of Portsoy village on the beautiful Banffshire coast.
  9. European Pipe Band Championships: Piping Inverness - 27 June 2020 - see pipe bands, drum majors and highland dancers competing, and browse the craft and food and drink villages at this top quality piping event at Bught Park in Inverness.
  1. Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open - 9 - 12 July 2020 - see top golfers competing at the ASI Scottish Open, which is viewed by many as an excellent warm up to The Open Championship.
  2. Hebridean Celtic Festival - 15 - 18 July 2020 - an enchanting music festival, held in the grounds of Lews Castle on the stunning island of Lewis. Hear music celebrating Celtic cultures, tinged with contemporary, rock and indie-folk influences.
  3. Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo - 7 - 29 August 2020 - a spectacular show of military bands, dancing and piping performances, set against the unforgettable backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. The Tattoo is one of seven summer festivals taking place in June, July and August.
  4. World Pipe Band Championships - 14 - 15 August 2020 - enjoy the sight and sound of hundreds of pipers competing in the world's top piping tournament. Don't miss the grand finale, when all the pipers on site perform together in unison.
  5. Piping Live! - 8 - 16 August 2020 - based in Glasgow, this unique festival celebrates all things piping. See the Masters Solo Piping Competition, try piping yourself at The National Piping Centre and sample fine local produce at the Pipers' Market.
  6. Cowal Highland Gathering - 27 - 29 August 2020 - held on Scotland's beautiful west coast in Dunoon, Argyll, the Cowal Highland Gathering is billed as the largest Highland games in the world and dates back to 1894. See some of the country's best pipers, Highland dancers, heavy events and much more.
  7. Largs Viking Festival - 29 August - 6 September 2020 - a Viking themed festival that commemorates the Battle of Largs in 1263, between the Scottish King Alexander III and Norwegian King Håkon IV. Explore the living history Viking Village, see owl demonstrations and watch the famous battle re-enactment, burning of the long ship and fireworks display.
  1. Royal National Mòd - 9 - 17 October 2020 - Scotland's main Gaelic cultural festival brings together a huge range of traditions, including music performances, singing, Highland dancing and even the sport of shinty.
  2. Scottish Storytelling Festival - 16 - 25 October 2020 - with a huge range of live storytelling events, there are plenty of tales to get swept up in during this 13 day festival in Edinburgh. Settle in and listen as storytellers from Scotland and beyond weave their tales around you.
  3. St Andrew's Day - 30 November - celebrate the national day of Scotland's patron saint, St Andrew, at events all over the country, including history events and food and drink extravaganzas.
  4. Hogmanay - 31 December - no one throws a New Year's Eve party quite like the Scots! Join us for an unforgettable start to your new year.