With the northern highlands enveloped in snow and the cities ablaze with Christmas lights and fireworks, winter makes for an atmospheric time to visit Scotland, as well as being one of the cheapest times to travel.
As the days get shorter, the country’s frosted landscapes and high winds make winter sports a popular option and Scotland’s five ski centers offer skiing and snowboarding at a fraction of the price of continental Europe. Hiking and mountaineering are popular pastimes in Scotland all year round, but while the icy passes make it a tougher challenge in the colder months, the snow-dusted views are well worth the effort. Windsurfing is also huge in coastal areas, with some of the world’s biggest windsurfing competitions held on Scottish shores.
Winter in Scotland is also a time for festivities, starting with St Andrew’s Day on November 30th. This celebration of the patron Saint of Scotland is a public holiday and marked by a range of art shows, storytelling performances, traditional dance festivals and cultural events held around the country. Christmas is next up, with Christmas markets, sparkling decorations and ice skating rinks popping up, especially in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The biggest party of the year though, is New Year – known as Hogmanay in Scotland – a four-day extravaganza with torch-lit processions, bonfires, live music concerts and street parties held all over the country. The biggest event is held in Edinburgh, with over 250,000 descending on the city, but Glasgow’s street party, the Inverness Highland Fling and Stonehaven fireball ceremony are also popular options.
Keep some energy reserves for January though – Burns night, held on January 25th, is another reason to party, celebrating the life and times of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. Join in the traditional Burns supper and sample the iconic Scottish haggis (traditionally doused with a healthy splash of Scotch whisky), as bagpipes are played in the background.