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The Imagine Alba Podcast- Winter Celebrations in Scotland

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.

You can listen to our special podcast episode about Winter in Scotland here by downloading from iTunes and subscribing:

Or you can listen through our podcast feed:

Bonfire Night in Oban

Looney Duks at Queensferry take the plunge into the cold water in a traditional New Year's Day dip. Image by VisitScotland

Christmas Clootie

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.

Scotland celebrates all winter long

St Andrew's Day

Scotland's patron saint is St. Andrew. He was a Galilean fisherman who later joined Jesus' apostleship. He was well-liked, strong, and fair, urging others to share their possessions with those in need. St. Andrew's Day was originally a chance for homesick Scots to get together and honour their common ancestry, on St. Andrew's Day, Scots have a wonderful chance to honour St. Andrew by banding together and lending a hand to those in need in their neighbourhood.


Hogmanay, or New Year's Eve, is well known around the world. Scotland is perhaps the best place in the world to ring in the New Year thanks to fire festivals, torchlight processions, street celebrations, live music, fireworks, and a welcoming atmosphere for all. Scotland hosts many different Hogmanay celebrations, from large-scale events like Edinburgh's Hogmanay, which attracts thousands of tourists from around the globe, to more intimate, local celebrations like Oban's midnight fireworks. People in Scotland celebrate Hogmanay at pubs, clubs, and village halls all around the nation or conduct their own celebrations at home that uphold tradition, such as first footers bringing coal or sharing a dram with pals at midnight.

Burns Night

Our national bard, Robert Burns, is one of Scotland's most beloved icons, capturing the very core of what makes Scots Scottish—creative, proud, and self-assured. In 1759, Robert Burns, also known as "Rabbie," was born in Alloway, South Ayrshire. He started composing poems and songs at a young age, and his writings earned him fame throughout Scotland. Rabbie's works gained international recognition after his untimely death at the age of just 37, and to this day, people sing "Auld Lang Syne" throughout the world to ring in the new year. Every year, on January 25, Scots and Scots-at-heart from throughout the world commemorate Burns' birthday to wrap up the Winter Festival season.

From the Imagine Alba team, merry Christmas and happy New Year!


Please enjoy our podcast about Scotland! Looking for things to do in Oban? if your travels bring you to the Oban area, get in touch about an Oban Walking Tour or local experience that is sure to be the highlight of your trip. Email us today and start the conversation about a walking tour in Oban.

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