Ho Ho Holidays are Here! The Best of Scotland’s Winter Festivals
Between raising the roof on St Andrew’s Day (30 November) for Scotland’s patron saint, and raising a dram in honour of the Bard on Burns Night (25 January) - with the world-famous Hogmanay celebrations in between - it’s fair to say that Scotland does a winter celebration well. Revellers are invited to get into the spirit and join Scotland’s winter festivals taking place throughout the country.
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Hogmanay in Edinburgh. Image by VisitScotland
St Andrew’s Day – 30 November 2017
Oban Winter Festival
A ten day festival featuring St Andrew’s Day celebrations, markets, parades, fireworks, street entertainers, fairgrounds, family events, pipe bands, ceilidhs, whisky tasting, and so much more.
When: 17-26 November 2017
Glasgow's St Andrew's Day Torchlight Parade
Community torchlight procession through the streets of Glasgow’s west end to mark Scotland’s Patron Saint Day, with pipe bands, samba drummers and fire performers.
Where: St Andrews
When: 30 November 2017
St Andrew’s Day: At the Ends of the Earth
A range of events on offer in the daytime including market stalls, lantern making workshops and circus skills workshops. In the evening, there will be an outdoor ceilidh followed by a lantern procession. The celebrations will culminate in a spectacular fire show with a magical firework display at the town’s ancient Harbour.
Where: St Andrews
When: 2 December 2017
The Saltire Festival
The Saltire Festival is an annual celebration of St. Andrew’s Day, bringing together the very best of Scotland in East Lothian, known as the place where the original Scottish saltire - the white diagonal cross on a sky blue background - was first adopted. Visitors can discover all that Scotland has to offer; the beautiful outdoors and stunning coastal landscape, delicious food & drink, created with the finest local produce, a long history and fascinating heritage, and hugely entertaining music, arts and comedy.
Where: East Lothian
When: 30 November - 3 December 2017
illumination: Harbour Festival of Light
Irvine’s historic waterfront will twinkle with lights this St Andrew’s Day as the Scottish Maritime Museum’s award-winning four day winter spectacular, illumination: Harbour Festival of Light, returns with even more sparkle. Festival highlights include the jaw-dropping illumination Light, Fire and Aerial Art Spectacular in and around the vast Linthouse, the Light Trail, lantern parade, firework displays and food and craft fair.
Where: Irvine, Ayrshire
When: 30 November – 3 December
St Andrews Day Celebrations Loch Lomond Shores
A weekend of Scottish-themed celebration for St Andrews Day. Includes fireworks, music, activities, Scottish food and drink and more. Suitable for all ages.
Where: Loch Lomond
When: 2 December – 3 December
Scottish Storytelling Centre - Winter Festivals
The Scottish Storytelling Centre delivers an inclusive celebration of winter traditions, across generations, cultures and societies, from St Andrew’s Day celebrations to Burns Night.
When: 28 November 2017 – 27 January 2018
Night at the MuseumThe Hunterian Museum will come to life for St Andrew’s Day to celebrate forgotten histories and heritage. From Peter Pan to Outlander, modern Scottish fantasy as portrayed in literature, film and TV, provides the theme for this dazzling event. Working in partnership with the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at University of Glasgow, The Hunterian will also host a Night at the Museum event celebrating the works of the bard in translation for Burns Night 2018.
When: 24 November 2017 – 26 January 2018
Scotland’s Winter Festivals at An Lanntair An Lanntair’s Winter Festival events begin with a full week of activities to celebrate St Andrew’s day including cinema, food and drink taster sessions, a quiz night and, of course, the best contemporary and traditional music available. We mark the New Year season with performances by ceilidh band Hò-rò and our annual showcase of local musicians Willie Campbell and Friends. The festival completes the season with a specially commissioned concert of the work of Robert Burns for string quartet.
Where: Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
When: 27 November 2017 – 27 January 2018
Busy crowds enjoying the Edinburgh Christmas Market
Christmas Markets and more…
The six-week season of festive entertainment sees market stalls and family-friendly attractions return to Princes Street Gardens and the elliptical outdoor ice rink to St Andrew Square. Ice Adventure is a brand new walk-through immersive experience; an ice museum filled with ice sculptures of Robert the Bruce, Dolly the Sheep and many others. Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar is another new addition with 25 glimpses of Edinburgh winters from year gone-by projected on to Register House, with one being revealed each day. The famous La Clique is coming back home for Christmas with their international hit La Clique Nöel.
When: 17 November 2017-6 January 2018
Glasgow Loves Christmas
Glasgow Loves Christmas sees magical events, shopping and festive fun happening in the heart of the city. Head to the Christmas Market in St Enoch Square, open until 22 December. The festive offering at George Square will be open daily from 25 November until 29 December. Enjoy the Style Mile Carnival on 26 November, Baby’s First Christmas on 2 December and the Santa Dash on 10 December.
When: 9 November 2017 – 14 January 2018
Edinburgh's Hogmanay Marking the start of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will celebrate Scotland’s young citizens by giving them the limelight with the fiery finale of the popular Torchlight Procession (30 Dec), sharing with the world their #Scotword. On the night itself, the Street Party will return bigger and better than ever with Concert in the Gardens headlined by Rag ‘n’ Bone Man. Some fantastic new flavours have been added such as Bairns Afore, giving children their midnight moment early on in the evening, Ceilidh under the Castle, and Hogmanay HQ, an exclusive VIP party at Assembly Hall.
When: 30 December 2017 – 1 January 2018
Hogmanay in the Honest Toun
The Brunton, Musselburgh, hosts a day filled with fantastic activities for families to celebrate Hogmanay including lantern making, samba drumming, ceilidh swinging, storytelling, puppet theatre, pantomime and an early evening free Lantern Parade with spectacular free Fireworks Display at Fisherrow Links. Visitors can welcome in 2018 with Hogmania! A family friendly evening ceilidh with live music, dancing, pipers and refreshments.
Where: Musselburgh, East Lothian
When: 31 December 2017
Hogmanay 2017 with The Revellers
See 2017 out in style with Shetland ‘Folk/Rock Juggernaut’ The Revellers and Friends at Mareel. See out the New Year with some of the best of Shetland’s musical talent, including The Revellers, Arthur Nicolson Band, Vair, Kansa and Hom Bru.
Where: Mareel, Shetland
When: 31 November 2017 – 1 January 2018
Stirling Council will celebrate Scotland’s Winter Festival 2017 by hosting a wide range of events that celebrate modern and traditional Scottish culture. Stirling’s largest ever Hogmanay midnight fireworks display is at the centre of the celebrations. A time to meet with family and friends and bring in the bells in Stirling style!
When: 31 December 2017
Fire and Light
Illuminate and energize your New Year celebrations with Fire and Light, a walk with a difference. Get wrapped up with friends and family for a walk to take in the night air and explore some spectacular sights, including the magnificent Kelpies, illuminated and animated for this special occasion.
Where: Helix Park, Falkirk
When: 1-2 January 2018
Burns Night Events
Big Burns Supper Big Burns Supper is Scotland’s landmark Burns Night event which takes place in Dumfries and features a heady mixture of cabaret, comedy, music and entertainment in over 30 different venues as the town goes bonkers for 11 days of winter magic.
When: 18-28 January 2018
With a packed programme of creative activities and performances, bairns and big yins alike will find plenty to enjoy at the day-long celebration of the poetry and legacy of Robert Burns. Wear your favourite tartan, experience live Scottish music, discover some braw Burns poetry and get creative at our craft stations.
Where: National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
When: 21 January 2018
Big Burns Stramash
The Big Burns Stramash 2018 is all about young people; comprising of a variety of different events to suit those from toddlers to those who are very nearly grown-ups, getting the national Year of Young People off to a bang in the Highlands!
When: 25-27 January 2018
Red, Red Rose Street
A festival of Burns’ music and words expanding the traditional Burns Night into a three day long celebration of the work of the world-renowned Scottish Bard.
When: 25-28 January 2018
Burns' Birthday in Mauchline
Burns’ Birthday in Mauchline, organised by East Ayrshire Leisure, invites residents of Ayrshire and visitors to the region to embrace all aspects of traditional and contemporary arts, by offering opportunities for involvement in a celebration of the work of Burns, with particular reference to Mauchline.
Where: Mauchline, East Ayrshire
When: 27-28 January 2018
Burns Unbroke is a new contemporary multi-arts festival, offering interpretations of the work of Robert Burns. The project‘s innovative visual arts programme features over 30 artists and includes newly commissioned work by four Scottish based artists. The focused programme of events includes an Alternative Burns Night, spoken word performances, children’s performances and a tailor made programme of music.
When: 25 January-10 March 2018
Journey this Burns season into Burns Alicht, a unique sparkling birthplace tour in celebration of Scotland’s poet Robert Burns. Discover special illuminations, become enchanted by mischievous sights, sounds and entertainment and delight in landmarks coming alive.
Where: South Ayrshire
When: 27 January 2018
Perth Riverside Light Nights
Burns Night Perth’s Riverside Light Nights will tell the story of how Robert Burns started his life as a poor tenant farmer, and through channelling his intellectual energy into poetry became one of the most famous characters of Scotland’s cultural history. With stunning lighting, music, street theatre, dance and folklore the life and work of Robert Burns will be portrayed.
When: 27-28 January 2018
Ultimate Hangover Cure?
Looney Duks at Queensferry take the plunge into the cold water in a traditional New Year's Day dip. Image by VisitScotland
Clootie dumpling is a traditional Christmas pudding made with dried fruit and suet. It gets its name from the 'clootie' or cloth used to steam it.
Image by Matt Riggott
• 450 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
• 200 grams raisins
• 200 grams sultanas
• 200 grams caster (powdered) sugar
• 150 grams suet
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp ground allspice
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• 2 eggs
• 3 tsp black treacle ( or molasses)
• 3 tsp baking powder
• 100 ml milk
Water, muslin cloth (or a clean tea towel or pillow case), string.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix the sultanas and raisins, peel the apple and grate it into the bowl. Mix the fruit into the dry ingredients, and add the eggs, milk and treacle. Stir well.
Moisten the cooking cloth and sprinkle with a thin, even layer of flour. Tip the pudding mix onto this, and tie the four corners of the cloth together. Leave enough string at both ends to loop around the handles of the pan.
Suspend the pudding in the water, turn down to a simmer, place a lid on the pan, and simmer for four hours, checking the water level occasionally and topping up if needed. Towards the end of cooking time, preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F) for fan oven, 180°C (356°F) for regular oven. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease it well with butter.
When the dumpling is done, remove it from the water and let it sit for a while until cool enough to handle. Unwrap and place on the baking sheet.
Place it in the oven for about 20 minutes to dry out and brown the crust. Turn it around halfway through drying.
Serve with ice cream, cream or custard.
From the Imagine Alba team, merry Christmas and happy New Year!