Featured image by Jamie In Bytown
Scotland’s annual St Andrew’s Day festivities take place on Sunday 30th November and although events have traditionally been fairly low key, an increased focus on the national day in recent years has transformed it into a fantastic celebration of Scottish culture and heritage.
St Andrew is Scotland’s patron Saint whom, according to legend, appeared in a vision to a Scottish King on the eve of a battle in 832 AD. The next morning a large cross appeared in the sky over the battlefield and it duly became known as the St Andrew’s Cross, and the saltire has featured on Scotland’s flag ever since.
So what can you expect to experience up north on the 30th November? Well, there’s everything from free historic attractions to haggis competitions, outdoor ceilidhs, live bands and food festivals. Sound tempting? Then pick up a car hire and hit the road to celebrate St Andrew’s Day like a true Scot!
In a bid to encourage both locals and visitors to embrace the St Andrew’s Day weekend, Historic Scotland (an executive agency of the Scottish Government) has released thousands of free tickets to some of the country’s best historical attractions.
A total of 35 heritage sites have signed up to the promotion and you can apply for an unlimited amount online at the ticket giveaway website up until 5pm on Friday 28th November. Tickets are valid for either Saturday 29th November or St Andrew’s Day itself, so take your pick and apply for the attractions which hold the most appeal to you and your family.
Perhaps you feel like exploring Stirling Castle, one of the largest of its kind in Scotland and home to the Royal Palace, Chapel Royal and Regimental Museum. While you’re there, take the chance to check out the National Wallace Monument which stands in recognition of Braveheart himself; Sir William Wallace.
In addition to all-out free tickets, you can also take advantage of a host of 2 for 1 deals and ‘kids go free’ deals at over 200 attractions up and down the country. Visit the St Andrew’s Day Out website for more information.
St Andrew’s Day in Edinburgh promises to be a truly memorable spectacle this year, with the aptly named St Andrew’s Square playing host to the festivities in the heart of the city. Prepare for live bagpipes, theatre groups, traditional music and plenty of tasty food to keep you going into the night.
The square’s centre piece, meanwhile, comes in the form of a huge ice rink; so get ready to don those skates and hit the ice. There’s plenty to keep the kids entertained as well, including storytelling sessions in the famous Spiegeltent enclosure, as well as dance workshops, face painting, fancy dress and a haggis hunt. There’s even a family ceilidh to look forward to, all within a stone’s throw of Edinburgh’s iconic Princes Street, where you can marvel at the uninterrupted views of the castle and the city’s Old Town.
Flying into Scotland? Pick up a car hire at Edinburgh Airport, take in the capital’s festivities and then head up the road to St Andrews…
As far as authentic St Andrew’s Day experiences go, it doesn’t come much better than the celebrations in the ancient town of St Andrews. According to legend, a monk was tasked with taking St Andrew from Greece to the ‘ends of the earth’ – which just so happened to be this charming Fife coastal town. Famous for its University and iconic golf course, St Andrews also happens to host one of the finest national day events in the land.
Running between 27th – 30th November, The St Andrew’s Day Celebrations will feature live bands, a special St Andrews vs The Rest of the World golf tournament and a huge outdoor ceilidh which is expected to attract up to 2,000 revellers.
Prior to the ceilidh, which takes place on Sunday evening, you can also take in the big switching-on of the town’s festive lights under the night sky.
Your taste buds will also be in for a treat as the annual St Andrews Food and Drink Festival runs in parallel with the celebrations, featuring cooking demonstrations, tasting events and an array of food stalls.
The town of Oban is perched on Scotland’s stunning west coast, offering you the perfect mix of idyllic scenery and authentic St Andrew’s Day celebrations. It can be reached in just over two hours by car from Glasgow, but regardless of which direction you approach it from, you’re guaranteed a truly spectacular drive through narrow coastal roads flanked by rolling hills and tree lined fields. Why not enjoy the scenic route in style by treating yourself to a prestige car hire?
Oban’s St Andrew’s Day activities kick off on Saturday with the highly anticipated ‘Haggisfest’, in which butchers from across the Argyll region go head to head on the stoves in a bid to win the prestigious ‘Golden Haggis Award’. As an onlooker, you’ll be spoilt for choice as there will be ample opportunities to sample Scotland’s national dish – the perfect place for those tasting haggis for the very first time.
Other events include a Scottish Food and Craft Market, tours of the Oban Whisky Distillery and the Tartan Dash race which winds its way through the town’s streets.
Be warned, however; the breath-taking west coast scenery may leave you feeling compelled to explore the area further. In which case you would be wise to follow in the path of Glasgow-based foodies Emma and Mark. They love nothing more than embarking on a scenic and culinary tour of the country, before sharing their findings with the world on their Food and Drink Glasgow blog. In the spirit of St Andrew’s Day, Europcar recently equipped them with a complimentary weekend car hire and sent them on a weekend trip to the Isle of Skye. This enabled them to take in some of the country’s most spectacular beauty spots, as well as a few hearty meals. Click here to read all about their foodie trip to Skye.
Ready for your weekend of all things Scottish? Check out these posts for further inspiration: