In Scotland

year of history

Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018yoyp 2018

In 2018 Scotland puts its young people (with a focus on 8-26 year olds) in the spotlight, celebrating their talents, contributions and creating new opportunities for them to shine.

The Year of Young People 2018 (YOYP) is a year-long programme of events, activities and ideas that will give young people in Scotland the opportunity to show the world what they are made of.

Year of Young People 2018 is led by the Scottish Government, working in collaboration with a core group of delivery partners including VisitScotland, EventScotland, Young Scot, Children in Scotland, Scottish Youth Parliament, Creative Scotland and YouthLink Scotland.

unesco siteScotland’s UNESCO World Heritage sites

Did you know that there are six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland? Each is recognised for its important place in Scottish and world history.

The most recent to be recognised as a World Heritage Site is the Forth Bridge, which opened in 1890.

A groundbreaking design, the bridge still draws the eye with its famous red colour, and was joined by the Forth Road Bridge in 1964.

In May of this year a second road bridge, the Queensferry Crossing, will be completed – perhaps it’s a heritage site of the future?!

All six sites will be celebrated with Scotland in Six during World Heritage Day on the 18 April. Events co-ordinated by Dig It! 2017 will include a Victorian-themed railway bonanza in honour of the Forth Bridge and a special period version of battle of the bands in Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns.

Watch musicians in the streets as they pit medieval music against classical music, culminating in a concert at St Cecilia’s Hall.

At the New Lanark site there will be an explosion of crochet and knitting – a fitting tribute to this former cotton mill, don’t you agree? Meanwhile at the Roman Antonine Wall in the grounds of Callendar House in Falkirk, a 5k run will see teams of Picts and Romans compete.

As night falls in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, theatrical glow-in-the-dark storytelling will take place, with the performers moving between some of the island’s most impressive sites.

Finally, the remote island of St Kilda, to the west of the Outer Hebrides, can be explored like never before online, through Minecraft.

down to earthDown to earth

Scotland is blessed with many fascinating archaeological sites where you can take in the evidence of how life was long ago. In a world so different to now, people like us were in the same place, and seeing where they lived thousands of years ago and standing in the same locations is a powerful experience.

At Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement in Shetland you can visit a site where people lived for over 4,000 years, from 2700 BC.

The impressive remains of an Iron Age broch and wheelhouses can be seen, which have stood strong against storms over the centuries.

At the Ness of Brodgar, which lies between the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney, there are opportunities to see a live archaeological dig between 5 July and 23 August 2017.

This site was inhabited over 5,000 years ago and so far digs have turned up monumental stone buildings and unusual painted stones.

It’s not only on land that Scotland has rich archaeology either – at the Scottish Crannog Centre on Loch Tay you can enter a recreation of a crannog, a wooden dwelling which stands on stilts above the water.

These dwellings are believed to have been used to house people and animals, and have been found during underwater investigations in various lochs across Scotland.

Read more in the spring edition of Capital magazine.

Scotland’s outdoor is a spectacular playground in winter, with skiing, husky sledding and stargazing just a few of the amazing activities you can enjoy..

The days might be getting shorter and the temperatures are staring to dip, but that certainly doesn’t mean that you should be considering nestling into a few months of sedentary hibernation! It can be very tempting to get comfortable and cosy up indoors, but then you would miss out on the dozens of wonderful wintry ways to embrace the great outdoors.

In fact, in Scotland, the winter months present an assortment of fantastic seasonal activities. Wrap up warm, get outside and have some fun this winter! Here are just a few ideas for things to fill the daylight (and night-time!) hours:

Hit the slopes

Did you know that Scotland has five mountain ski centres? With so many mountain ranges, it’s no surprise that Scotland offers the best outdoor skiing and snowboarding in the UK.

In the Highlands, snowsports can be enjoyed at the mountain resorts at Glencoe and Nevis Range, both in Lochaber, and at CairnGorm Mountain, near Aviemore. Glenshee and the Lecht ski centres can be found in the west of Aberdeenshire.

Whether you are seasoned on the slopes or fancy trying skiing or snowboarding for the first time, the ski centres offer a range of runs to suit varying levels of experience. For those new to snowsports, get some lessons from expert tutors at one of the ski schools. Once you’ve got the basics, it’s time to hit the beginner’s slopes!

Experienced skiers and snowboarders will find Scotland’s ski runs both challenging and rewarding, from the long pistes of Glas Maol at Glenshee, best attempted after a fresh snowfall, to the terrain and skills parks of CairnGorm Mountain, perfect for working on technical tricks.

After a busy day on the slopes, you can enjoy the après-ski with a distinctive Scottish twist; is there a better way to warm up than with a fine malt whisky enjoyed by an open log fire?

Dare to try different

For those with an appetite for the great outdoors, winter offers some incredible opportunities to develop new skills and put them to the test, or try fun activities that you simply can’t do at other times of the year.

Prepare to say ‘mush!’ as you enjoy the exhilarating experience of a sled dog safari. Ride with a team of energetic huskies through thick forests and wild backcountry near Aviemore on a trip with the Cairngorm Sleddog Centre.

When blankets of deep snow cover the ground, it’s time to strap on some snowshoes and try hiking with a difference! You could spend an afternoon snowshoeing in the Trossachs with an outdoor activity provider, taking in breathtaking views of snowdrift-covered countryside.

The hardiest of outdoor enthusiasts will love the thrilling challenge of winter climbing – why not get started at the Ice Factory in Kinlochleven, near Glencoe, home to a 40 ft ice wall? This part of the Highlands is defined by impressive mountain ranges, meaning that you can head out with an experienced guide to scale steep slopes and rocky crags.

For a mountain exploration unlike any other, book yourself on a snow holing and winter walking expedition. Venture into the mountains of the Cairngorms National Park, help to dig a communal snow hole and snuggle down for a night in a winter wilderness!

Winter activities aren’t confined to hillsides and mountain peaks. For some fun on the ice, try a curling taster session. Did you know that the sport was invented in Scotland? It’s a fun winter pastime which you can try at a number of ice rinks across Scotland. Sometimes, when temperatures plunge to freezing point, it can be played on frozen curling ponds.

PIC: P.TOMKINS/VisitScotland

Winter walking

There is nothing quite like being out in the countryside on a bracing winter day. Feel your cheeks tingle, see your breathe lingering on the cold air, enjoy the gratifying crunch of the frozen ground underfoot – and then there’s the pleasure of the walk itself!

Wander through snow-covered forest tracks where the branches of pine and oak trees are dusted with snow. Both Loch an Eilein, surrounded by towering conifers on a walk around Rothiemurchus Forest in the Cairngorms National Park, and the enchanting woodland realm of Puck’s Glen, in Argyll Forest Park on the Cowal Peninsula, offer spectacular walking trails.

In the colder months, Scotland’s mountains are capped with snow and look utterly majestic.  Enjoy the sight of Ben Lawers’ white peaks as you follow the gentle nature trail in Perthshire. At Loch Lomond, you could stride up Conic Hill and admire breathtaking views towards Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps – a glorious walk on a bright, clear day.

P. Tomkins / VisitScotland

Starry, starry nights

As the daylight hours get shorter, the nights get longer and darker which means one thing – more opportunities for stargazing! Scotland really is one of the best places to take in the wonders of the night sky.

A night out identifying stars and planets is perfect for an unusual romantic date, or a memorable family outing with the kids. Pack a flask of hot chocolate, plenty of warm clothes and a cosy picnic blanket and take in the magic of the cosmos.

Scotland is home to the UK’s first Dark Sky Park in the south west of the country, as well as a number of other sites with special Dark Sky status. In Galloway Forest Park, over 7,000 shining stars and planets are visible to the naked eye.

You could also book a session at the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory and admire the intricacies of the solar system with the aid of powerful telescopes.

Parts of the Isle of Skye and other remote areas in the north west Highlands also offer wonderful opportunities for spotting constellations, thanks to low light pollution.

There’s even an official Dark Sky Island!

The Isle of Coll in the Inner Hebrides has no street lights – the closest lamppost is over 20 miles away on the Isle of Mull!

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