There’s no doubt that Scots like to party, but you don’t have to visit the capital to get down with the locals and there’s no better place to knock back a few shots of Scotch whisky than the Highlands. Despite its small size, the nightlife in Inverness is surprisingly diverse and while you won’t find the mega-clubs and all-night parties of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the capital of the highlands still offers everything from ceilidhs (traditional Gaelic parties and music sessions) and cozy pubs, to chic cocktail bars and live music venues.
With more than 300 events, featuring over 2,000 artists at around 20 venues, and ranking among the UK’s largest annual winter music festivals, Glasgow’s famous Celtic Connections Festival is a good reason to brave the cold and venture outdoors in the first few weeks of the New Year. A mammoth celebration of Celtic music, including folk, roots and world music from all around the globe, the unique festival hosts concerts, exhibitions, ceilidhs (traditional Gaelic parties), workshops and talks over more than 2 weeks, and best of all, many events are free of charge.
Black Friday might be the busiest shopping day of the year in the US, but over in the UK, the most highly-anticipated sales happen after Christmas, when huge discounts can be found on clothing and accessories, household goods and furnishings, electronics, and just about everything else you can think of. For Scots, shopping at Glasgow’s January Sales has become a popular holiday tradition and as the biggest shopping center outside of London, it’s undoubtedly the top destination for those living in the north.
When it comes to celebrating New Year’s Eve in Scotland, few visitors venture outside of the capital – not surprising, seeing as Edinburgh’s legendary Hogmanay celebrations last an exhausting 4 days. Of course, Edinburgh isn’t the only destination for New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay as it’s known to locals, and if you’re heading to the Scottish Highlands for the big night, the biggest and best event is the Red Hot Highland Fling in Inverness.
Most visitors choose to spend Christmas in Edinburgh or Glasgow, but if you’re looking to experience a local Christmas, Inverness makes an enchanting alternative and the Highlands capital is particularly atmospheric during the festive season.
One of the city’s oldest and most vibrant quarters, Glasgow’s Merchant City takes its name from the tobacco, sugar and tea merchants that populated the area during the 1750s and many of their grand Victorian houses still line the streets. Today, the historic district remains among the city’s most fashionable, a vibrant hub of bars, restaurants and art galleries at the heart of Glasgow’s cultural quarter.