Why winter is our favourite time to tour Scotland..
Yes, we know it's the middle of summer and many parts of the country are experiencing a heatwave... however, all this hot weather has us longing for those cool, crisp winter days in the Highlands! Although the days may be shorter and the nights colder, there are still so many wonderful places to visit and things to do here in the winter months. In fact, the scenery in Scotland during winter time is just magical.
Our snow-capped peaks and frosty glens are a spectacular sight and our twinkling cities host some of the best celebrations during the winter months.
Scenery & Wildlife
The scenery in Scotland during winter is truly special. The mountains peaks are covered in snow, the glens are sprinkled with frost that glistens in the dawn, and the whole country is filled with beautiful winter landscapes for you to discover. It's the perfect place for a fresh winter walk and a fantastic time to catch a glimpse of Scotland's wonderful wildlife. In fact Scotland's big five - the red deer, red squirrel, otter, harbour seal and the golden eagle, can all be spotted here during the winter months. Our incredible Wildlife Tour runs until the end of October.
During winter, the Scottish night skies are perfect for star gazing. Here in Scotland we have some of the largest stretches of dark sky in Europe and we are home to the UK's first Dark Sky Park - the Galloway Forest Park. Thousands of stars and planets are visible to the naked eye and this fantastic park is home to the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, which is well worth a visit. Scotland is also home to the Tomintoul & Glenlivet Cairngorm's Dark Sky Park. This park is the darkest part of the UK and is the most northerly dark sky park in the world. There are also many dark sky discovery sites scattered across Scotland, where you can get the best views of the starry skies, or you could join a dark sky discovery event. Scotland is also home to a Dark Sky Island - the Isle of Coll, which is located west of the Isle of Mull.
Due to Scotland sharing it's latitude with Scandinavia, the chances of seeing the Northern Lights on a winter holiday here are pretty high. The further north you are the higher your chances so keep your eyes peeled for a spectacular sight!
If it's activities you're after then look no further as Scotland is home to a wide range of winter activities. One of the most popular things to do here during the winter months is skiing. Scotland is home to six outdoor ski resorts which offer fantastic opportunities for skiing and snowboarding amid wonderful scenery. Three of these resorts are found in the Cairngorm National Park and one in the stunning Glencoe valley. Although the mountains may not be as high as those you find in the alps, they offer great slopes and spectacular panoramic views. If skiing isn't your thing there are plenty more activities to try such as dog-sledding at the Cairngorm Sled-dog Centre, snow-shoeing across forest tracks and hillsides, or you could even try scaling an Ice Wall at the Ice Factor indoor climbing centre (located near Glencoe).
Festivals & Events
Although August is known as the festival month here in Scotland, there are also lots of winter festivals and events to enjoy. Mid-November marks the start of many Christmas markets across Scotland, with the main one taking place in Edinburgh.
This market runs until January and here you can enjoy tasty food and drinks, shop for special gifts, enjoy the rides or do a spot of ice skating. Alongside this you can also enjoy a wonderful light show at Edinburgh's botanical gardens. On the 30th of November, it's St Andrews Day which marks the start of the winter festivals and is 'Scotland's national day'. It is celebrated across the country with food, music and dancing (link to blog post on ceilidhs).
Another fantastic winter festival here in Scotland is Hogmanay - Scotland's word for New Year's Eve. When it comes to New year's Eve celebrations Scotland certainly knows how to get the party started! One of the greatest places in the world to celebrate Hogmanay is in Edinburgh. Our street party is world famous - with a concert in Princes Street gardens and a spectacular fireworks display above the castle, it's definitely a night to remember!
Last of the winter festivals here is Burns Night which is celebrated on the 25th of January. This is a day to celebrate the life of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. It is celebrated with a Burns Supper, consisting of the traditional dish of haggis, neeps and tatties. After the supper there will often be music and traditional Scottish dancing in the form of a ceilidh. Many restaurants and venues across Scotland put on fantastic celebrations for Burn's night and it's more than worth attending an event to get a real taste of Scottish culture.
So pack a thick coat, sturdy boots, plenty of warm layers and a cosy, hat, scarf and gloves and you will be all set to enjoy the wonderful activities and stunning scenery that winter in Scotland has to offer. Here at ScotLux, almost all of our luxury private tours run throughout the winter months and are adjusted to suit the shorter daylight hours. We can't wait to share our beautiful country with you!