Scotland 2017…What’s happening

The Old Packhorse Bridge over the River Dulnain at Carrbridge
Photo: © VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

In a land of myths, legends, bustling cities, stunning landscapes and plenty of #ScotSpirit, there’s always something new. Read on for more about Scotland’s anniversaries, legendary movies and a taste of something much more…

In with the new… and the old

Edinburgh – 70 years as the Festival City

In 2017, Edinburgh will mark its 70th anniversary as the Festival City. Edinburgh is the world’s leading festival city, with 12 major annual festivals bringing talents from more than a third of the world’s countries to our streets and stages.

The Edinburgh International Festival was established in 1947 to create “a flowering of the human spirit” in the Scottish capital. In that same year the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Film Festival also started.

Other festivals followed, from military grandeur to intimate jazz and blues, captivating science to underground theatre and children’s entertainment. As these festivals grew into world-leading celebrations, international excellence in art, culture and science became a permanent and inescapable part of Edinburgh’s identity.

Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017

2017 has been designated a year that will celebrate the country’s unique history and heritage with a programme of activity aimed at supporting and driving the nation’s tourism and events sector. Scotland has a wealth of riches in history, heritage and archaeology: from World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments; listed buildings to historic battlefields; cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends; the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 will shine a spotlight on some of Scotland’s greatest assets and icons, as well as our hidden gems. History and heritage is already a key motivator for visits to Scotland and an important part of the visitor experience.

Queensferry Crossing, Edinburgh & Fife

Due May 2017

The stunning, globally-unique bridge forms the centrepiece of a major upgrade to the important cross-Forth transport corridor in the east of Scotland. Providing another link from Edinburgh and the Lothians to Fife, the 1.7 miles (2.7km) structure will be the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world.

Eigg – 20th anniversary of becoming a fully sustainable island

The Isle of Eigg, which is located to the south of the Isle of Skye, marks 20 years as a fully sustainable island in 2017. Notably it generates virtually 100% of its electricity using renewable energy. The island was bought in 1997 by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, a partnership between the residents of Eigg, the Highland Council, and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The island is also notable as it records an average of 130 species of bird annually. The island has breeding populations of various raptors: golden eagle, buzzard, peregrine falcon, kestrel, hen harrier and short and long-eared owl.

The Bridge at Carrbridge – 300th Anniversary

The town of Carrbridge is famous for the 1717 packhorse bridge, one of the most iconic landmark visitor attractions in the Cairngorms National Park. The bridge was built so that residents could carry coffins across the water when the river was in spate. During the summer months, hardy locals leap off the bridge into the icy depths below to cool off. Incidentally, Carrbridge is also famous for the annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Championships!

Legends and Literature

20 years of Potter mania

In June 1997, Bloomsbury published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling with an initial print run of 1,000 copies. There are various stories around locations in Edinburgh and Scotland providing some inspiration for the series of books; what is true is that Rowling would write in cafés around Edinburgh, including The Elephant House. In February 2007 it was reported that Rowling wrote on a bust in her hotel room at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh that she had finished the seventh book in that room on 11 January 2007.

King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword (2017)

Partly filmed on the Isle of Skye (among other UK locations) and set for release in UK cinemas on 24 March 2017, this blockbusting take on the classic Excalibur myth, tracing Arthur’s journey from the streets to the throne, is directed by Guy Ritchie and stars Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) as King Arthur, alongside Jude Law, Eric Bana and David Beckham.

Rob Roy – 200th Anniversary

2017 marks 200 years since the publication of the Walter Scott novel. Rob Roy is set against the backdrop of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, which aimed to restore the Stuart monarchy in the person of James Edward, the ‘Old Pretender’, son of the deposed James II. It is narrated by Frank Osbaldistone, the son of an English merchant who travels first to the North of England, and subsequently to the Scottish Highlands.

Somewhere to lay my head…

The Bus Stop – self-catering in a bus!

Gifford, East Lothian

The perfect getaway on four wheels, this unique accommodation has been created in a single decker bus on a working farm, with bespoke interiors and a touch of luxury. Characteristics include a large deck with log fired hot tub, BBQ, fire pit set on a spacious grassed area with uninterrupted views of the Lammermuir Hills.

Natural Retreats at Lews Castle, Isle of Lewis

Opening Spring 2017

Lews Castle is the third in Natural Retreats’ Scottish portfolio (which also includes John O’Groats on the NC500 route and their Cairngorms site). It has undergone quite a considerable refurbishment and they are looking to launch its accommodation offering in early 2017. They are already hosting conference events and the site is open for lunch, but the new accommodation should be quite special indeed.

Edinburgh Grand, Edinburgh City Centre

Opening Summer 2017

The Edinburgh Grand is the latest addition to Lateral City Apartments’ portfolio of beautifully-appointed serviced accommodation. A striking Neo-Classical building, it stands on the south-east corner of notable St Andrew Square, within Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site and just minutes away from key transport links. This prestigious area, known for its designer boutiques, is steps away from the renowned George Street with its reputation as a lively and vivacious hub. The building will comprise 50 luxury apartments, many of which will feature retained original detailing. It will also include restaurants, bars, retail outlets and a gym.
Alongside the serviced apartments, Bon Vivant will be operating a coffee house and evening venue, offering late night entertainment and dining.

Food glorious food (and drink)

Dishoom, Edinburgh

The team behind Dishoom restaurants is open in Edinburgh this winter – their first location outside London. Dishoom Edinburgh will be housed in a beautiful 1920s-era Grade A listed building at 3a St Andrew Square. Dishoom pays loving homage to the Irani cafés of Bombay. Opened early last century by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, there were almost four hundred cafés at their peak in the 1960s. Now, fewer than thirty remain.

Refinery St Andrew Square in Edinburgh

Located in the heart of the city, the bar and restaurant will offer guests an all-day escape, whatever the occasion. Open seven days a week for business breakfasts through to long lunches, cocktail celebrations and lingering dinner dates, The Refinery will become a destination for fantastic food and drink set amongst a stunning interior.

Bladnoch Distillery, Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway

Re-opening in 2017 and 200th anniversary

Inspired by the traditional flavours of Lowland Scotch Whisky, visitors can savour Single Malts that honour their rural roots, alongside contemporary, progressive whiskies. Established in 1817 by brothers John and Thomas McClelland, Bladnoch enjoyed a reputation as a leading Lowland Scotch malt whisky distillery under several owners, including Arthur Bell and United Distillers. After ceasing production for several years, Australian businessman David Prior purchased Bladnoch thanks to his passion for Scotch whisky and a desire to restore the heart and soul of the local community and reinvigorate the brand.

New gin distilleries for Dumfries and Galloway

Two brand new gin distilleries are set to go into production in late 2016/early 2017:

  • The Quintessential Distilling Company Ltd based at Tam Kelton Distillery, Dalton (production starting January 2017) will offer tours, a tasting room and bar and a BBQ chalet for eight people.
  • Crafty Distillery, based at Newton Stewart (production starting late 2016) will have a visitors centre, café and bar.

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