The pandemic ruined 2020 – that’s a fact. There was no Scotland tourism, music, dancing, gatherings, ceilidhs, and going to the pub was limited to putting up with the patter of just ONE of your mates ALL NIGHT LONG. Things to do in Scotland were very limited over the last year as they were for the rest of the world. It was a long summer of Zoom parties, online quizzes and drinking in your underwear. But we had to do our best to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the rest of the country – so it will all be worth it in the end.
With the vaccine being rolled out to the vulnerable and the line for the rest of us forming and snaking around the corner, we thought it was only right to make a wee list of the ‘6 Things to Look Forward to in Scotland’ this year. It might give you some succour whilst we all sit here in winter lockdown waiting for this pause to thaw and some normality to be drip-fed back into our wanton maws. This top 6 list is VERY dependent on the pandemic however, so although these things are going ahead now, I’m sure you know already that there are no guarantees anymore!
The Edinburgh Festival 2021
Nothing in this fair country is more well-attended than the world-famous Edinburgh Festival. Edinburgh is one of the best places to visit in Scotland and the festival adds over 400,000 attendees a year into Edinburgh to taste the best of the arts from all over the UK, as well as from all over the world. Edinburgh comedy clubs, theatres, pubs, alley ways and cafes are taken over by comedians, actors and artists all vying for attention on a bill that topped over 750 acts in 2019 when you include the often-chaotic Edinburgh Fringe programme.
On the historic Royal Mile, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle where the bombastic Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place every year, thousands of revellers will gather and wander past street performers demonstrating magic, comedy, circus skills and all sorts of performance art (to varying degrees of competence). From there they will go on to the pubs, clubs and theatres to watch shows of this that and the other.
The Edinburgh International Festival 2021 dates are between the 6th August and 30th August and past performers have included the likes of Peter Cook, Graham Norton, Emma Thompson, Robin Williams and Dawn French, as well as homegrown comedians like Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges, Janey Godley and Billy Connelly to name but a teeny, tiny number of famous faces that have performed at the festival over the last 60 years.
Edinburgh Festival dates : 6th – 30th August
Edinburgh Festival tickets : www.edfringe.com
North Coast 500
We’re used to staycations in Scotland now. International travel might not be on the cards for a wee while yet, so we look forward to getting back out there and to travel Scotland – seeing a bit more of the fair country that we call home. The NC500 is a great way to see great swathes of the Scottish landscape. Starting and ending at the historic Inverness Castle, the North Coast 500 is a scenic 516-mile (830 km) that takes you through and past the best and the most beautiful places the north coast of Scotland has to offer. The NC500 was launched as an official route back in 2015, linking many of the wonderful sights and features that has made the north of Scotland a magnet for tourists from across the globe.
The NC500 is like Route 66 Scotland. It takes in a huge amount of the country by starting in the capital of the Highlands Inverness and then running through
- Muir of Ord
- Castle of Mey
- John O’Groats
- Dunrobin Castle
- And then finishing off back in Inverness.
Many folks tackle the North Coast 500 map in a motorhome or caravan, stopping along the way to breathe in the fresh Scottish air and marvel at the untamed landscape that surrounds the twisty, turny roads across the North Coast 500 route. Whether you do it in a car, motorcycle, e-bike, or caravan, the NC500 is a Scotland road trip that could not be forgotten (no matter how much of the lovely local whisky you imbibe!).
Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival 2021
Music festivals in Scotland are a staple of the nation’s entertainment calendar and have been greatly missed this past year. With the demise of T in the Park, Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival has become the biggest music festival in Scotland. Tucked away in the Highland countryside just outside Inverness, it has grown in stature and size from its humble roots as a small festival of only a few hundred in 2004, to its current 20,000 capacity selling out in advance every year since 2008! Festival tickets range from 1 day flying visits, to 3-day camping extravaganzas where you can taste and investigate every corner of the Scottish music festival.
Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival has hosted some of the biggest acts on the planet. Acts like Tom Jones, Lewis Capaldi, Madness, Sister Sledge, Ed Sheeran, Billy Bragg, KT Tunstall and Jess Glynne to name but a few. The festival also accommodates comedians, spoken word, wrestling and a huge variety of stalls and attractions that make a weekend away in a field in Belladrum worth every single penny of the festival ticket price.
This year’s line-up includes:
- Nile Rogers & Chic
- Van Morrison
- Emeli Sande
- Shed Seven
- Stiff Little Fingers
- The Magic Numbers
- Colonel Mustard & The Dijon Five
Belladrum Festival 2021 dates : Thursday, 29 July – Saturday, 31 July
Belladrum Tartan Heart tickets : www.skiddle.com/festivals/belladrum/
New Year in Scotland is called Hogmanay and is as important as it gets when it comes to Scottish events. The origins of Scottish Hogmanay are unclear, but it is said that it may be derived from Norse and Gaelic traditions. In 2020 we were robbed of the chance of gathering, singing and having a good old Hogmanay ceilidh and swally! So, fingers crossed that Hogmanay 2021 is back to its best and we can celebrate with the rest of the world the dawning of a brand-new year with brand-new optimism.
Many towns and cities across the country hold enthusiastic Hogmanay street parties, with the biggest being in the nation’s capital – Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Hogmanay street party has bands and acts performing all through New Year’s Eve for as many as 75,000 revellers! Performers like The Proclaimers, Mark Ronson, and Franz Ferdinand have welcomed the New Year in Scotland and there’s not a dry eye in the street when 75,000 people sing Auld Land Syne in unison. There isn’t a party like it anywhere in the world!
Scotland in Euro 20/21
The Scotland National Football team have been waiting since 1998 to qualify for a major football tournament and this year it finally happened. The Tartan Army (Scottish fans) will be out in force to celebrate and support the Scotland National Team when Euro 20 finally kicks off on the 11th June 2021 in Rome. The whole country will be watching (hopefully) in pubs and homes across Scotland, looking to support the lads as they play England, Czech Republic, and Croatia.
One of the most tantalising Euro fixtures for Scotland is the game against England. Scotland Vs England match will take place on the 18th June and is sure to be a hard-fought game against the ‘Auld Enemy’. Scotland maybe doesn’t have the prowess of our confident neighbours, but anything can happen over those 90 minutes!
UEFA Euro 2020 fixtures : 11 June – 11 July 2021
Euro 20 Tickets : www.uefa.com/uefaeuro-2020/ticketing/#/
The Pubs Opening
At some point the pubs will open and we can meet our friends for some food, drinks and good old catchup. Even listen some great local bands or watch a bit of footy on the box.