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Although it’s often overlooked, wintertime is an excellent season to visit Scotland. With a range of unique events, festivals, gorgeous landscapes, hearty cuisine and plenty of Scotch to keep you warm, Scotland is a special place to visit when the mercury drops.
There’s even reason to brave the chill outside. Guests hoping to catch sight of the Northern Lights are often treated to dramatic displays, especially when overnighting in the northern Highlands. Even on nights when the lights aren’t dancing, guests are treated to an incredible cosmic display, showcasing thousands of stars under the twinkling sky (provided that there aren’t clouds in the way). With many areas free of light pollution, stargazing is a notable Scotland attraction, especially in places like Galloway Forest Park, which has a designated Dark Sky Park.
On New Years Eve, locally known as Hogmanay, many cities – Edinburgh chief among them – transform into clusters of concerts and activities that rage through the night, capped off with the Loony Dook plunge which takes place on January the 1st. This event sees dozens of locals dress up in wild costumes before jumping into the Firth of Forth to ring in the new year! Beyond New Years celebrations, there are a few fire festivals that are sure to keep guests warm, and mesmerized, during winter travel in Scotland. For example, the Up Helly AA, held on the last Tuesday of every January in Shetland, is sure to impress.
To keep warm like a local, visitors to Scotland will need visit a few Scotch distilleries. Operated year round, the Malt Whiskey Trail allows guests to discover (and sample) a range of distinctive brews, some with fruity flavours, others with more fiery tastes. No matter the preference, Scotland has the right hot toddy for any who visit.
Shifting the scene to the culinary side of Scotland, the country is host to 9 Michelin star awarded restaurants, as well as a massive range of delightful local restaurants that offer all sorts of delicious creations from Scottish staples like haggis (try it, it’s excellent) to fresh fish to comfort foods like Italian dishes.
Not to be forgotten, perhaps the best part of travel to Scotland in the winter is the dramatic landscapes and the opportunities they offer to hike in solitude. For hikers seeking a soft adventure far from the crowds, travelling to Scotland during the winter months is a great option. From Loch Lomond to the Cairngorms National Park, options abound for winter hikes in the southern half of Scotland. For the more adventurous and hearty, hiking further north can also be arranged. Skiers also should have Scotland on their map for winter travel as well. Though it is not widely known, there are a number of nice ski resorts in the country such as Glencoe Mountain, just two short hours from Glasgow.
Although the country is widely know for its beauty in the summer months, Scotland should also be kept in mind for winter travel. With friendly locals, reduced costs and all the reasons mentioned above, why not encourage your guests to visit Scotland during the winter?
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