Summer is upon us and as the first whiff of barbeques start to emanate from gardens up and down the country, our minds turn to plotting summer getaways. But before trawling the internet in search of a holiday in the sun, make sure you cast an eye over the seasonal schedule closer to home – because Scotland is the place to be this summer as the Year of Homecoming reaches its peak with a burst of world class arts, sports and cultural events.
So never mind the weather; embrace the best of the British summer and join in the fun by picking up a hire car and heading off on your own Scottish adventure…
2014: The Year of Homecoming
The Year of the Homecoming 2014 is all about showcasing everything that’s great about Scotland. Safe to say it’s quite a lengthy list, hence why events are spread out across the year in order to best capture the country’s fascinating variety of arts, sport, culture and heritage.
Among the highlights is the annual Royal Highland Show; the holy-grail for anyone with a soft spot for farming and the countryside. Farmers from all over the UK and beyond arrive with more than 5,000 farm animals in tow for the show, set in the outskirts of Edinburgh. It all kicks off on June 19th as exhibitors showcase everything from livestock to the latest inventions, machinery, fresh produce and a range of other products. You can also check out live cooking demonstrations, local music and a host of workshops during the four-day event which attracts upwards of 180,000 visitors. Under-16s go free, so pick up a car hire in Edinburgh and take the family along for a fun-filled day.
Got your mind set on a tour of the Highlands? Then make sure Aboyne in Aberdeenshire features on your sat-nav list. On August 2nd, Aboyne’s village green plays host to the annual Aboyne Highland Games. Since 1867, clansmen and women have gathered here to crown the champions of prestigious events such as hammer throwing, caber tossing and tug of war. Join thousands of spectators for a day of pipe bands, dancing, competitions for young and old and generous helpings of food and drink.
Commonwealth Games: 23rd July – 3rd August
All roads lead to Glasgow this summer as it prepares to take centre stage as host city of the highly anticipated Commonwealth Games. It all kicks off with the opening ceremony at Hampden Park on July 23rd, with ten days of world class athletic events to follow. The star performers include the hero of the London 2012 Olympics, Mo Farah, and none other than the world’s fastest man himself – Usain Bolt.
Tickets for the games have been released in stages, so check out this guide for all the details on how you can catch some of the action.
The games themselves take place across 13 different venues in and around Glasgow, while the city centre will be jam-packed with entertainment zones for visitors. The games even stretch as far as Edinburgh, with all aquatic competitions taking place at the Royal Commonwealth Pool. If you’re planning a trip through to the capital, book a hire car in Glasgow and enjoy easy access to all other venues at the same time.
Ryder Cup: 23rd – 28th September
Scotland has long held a reputation for being a nation of great inventors, and for millions around the globe it is perhaps the game of Golf which stands out as the finest Scottish creation. 2014 just so happens to be the year when ‘The Home of Golf’ plays hosts to one of the world’s most prestigious golfing tournaments, so why not embark on a road trip to Perthshire and take in the 40th installment of The Ryder Cup?
24 of the best European and American golfers will battle it out at the world famous Gleneagles Golf Course for five days in late September. Day tickets may already have been snapped up, but there’s still plenty of reason to swing by (ahem). Practice Day tickets are still available and offer a great way to sample the atmosphere while watching the pros perfect their putting and driving techniques.
Bannockburn Live: 28th – 29th June
Bannockburn was the setting for one the most significant moments in Scottish history, as Robert the Bruce led his troops to victory over England during the Wars of Scottish Independence on June 24, 1314. In addition to the brand new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre, which tells the story of the epic battle through the use of 3D technology, visitors can experience the event in real life on the 28th and 29th of June at Bannockburn Live. The battle field is located in the town of Stirling, less than an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and just 30 minutes from Glasgow.
Prepare to travel back in time with three daily re-enactments of the battle, featuring hundreds of performers directed by Hollywood movie choreographers. You can also walk through an interactive medieval encampment depicting Scottish life during the 14th century, while live music performances featuring traditional and contemporary Scottish artists will take place on the stages. There are also plenty of competitions and games to keep the youngest audience members entertained.
Edinburgh Festivals: 1st – 31st August
Every August, several hundred thousand people descend on the Scottish capital for the world famous Edinburgh Festivals. The Jazz & Blues Festival kicks off proceedings on July 18th before the month of August sees as many as six festivals run simultaneously, turning the city into one big carnival. Arenas, pubs, community halls, shops and streets transform into festival venues and become a showground for artists, musicians, actors, actresses and a host of other live performers from around the globe.
Edinburgh Castle, the city’s iconic landmark, takes centre stage as it hosts the Edinburgh Military Tattoo for 23 consecutive nights – with each show culminating in a mesmerising fireworks display.
Get behind the wheel and head to Edinburgh where you can catch the following festivals from mid-July until late August:
- Jazz & Blues Festival: July 18-27th
- Art Festival: July 31st – August 31st
- Edinburgh Military Tattoo: August 1st-23rd
- Edinburgh Festival Fringe: August 1st-25th
- Edinburgh International Festival: August 8th-31st
- Edinburgh Book Festival: August 9th-25th
- Edinburgh Mela Festival: August 29th-31st
If you find yourself cruising through town in June, catch the Edinburgh Film Festival between June 18th and 29th. Expect red carpet events and a mix of independent films, big Hollywood names and up-and-coming actors and actresses.
You may also be interested in: