If you didn’t make it to Scotland in 2009, no worries – check out our 2010 Scotland events calendar.
2009 is a big year for Scotland, with the Homecoming Scotland campaign giving rise to hundreds of events all over the country. Though there’s no bad time to come to Scotland, here’s a brief guide to some of the highlights, to help you plan your Scotland vacation. For a hard-core sports fan, there are few experiences like joining the Tartan Army in cheering on Scotland toward World Cup qualifying at Hampden Park, and for the more cultured traveler, Edinburgh Fringe is a seemingly unending buffet of performances of every imaginable kind. There are also a ton of heritage events, so if you’re interested in learning more about your Scottish roots, now is the time. Once you decide which of these events is for you, check out our flight and hotel pages to start planning your trip.
- 25 Jan : Burns Night : Celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s most famous poet with a night-long party. This is also the opening event of Homecoming 2009, and will feature live music and entertainment. (Dumfries and Galloway)
- 8, 28 Feb : Six Nations Rugby : Scotland begins an uphill climb for the championship of European rugby. The tournament opens on the 8th against Wales, and continues on the 28th, hosting Italy. (Edinburgh)
- 12-29 Mar : Glasgow International Comedy Festival : Rob Bryden, Ross Noble and Jimmy Carr are among the Scottish and English talent headlining this year’s event. It might not be a reason for a trip, but if you’re going to be in the city, it’s not to be missed. (Glasgow)
- 29 Mar – 3 Apr : East Lothian Golf and Whisky Classic : Love golf? Like a good dram of Scotch? Then there might be no better time to come to East-Central Scotland than early April, when there’s an abundance of both to be had. (East Lothian)
- 23-26 Apr : Glasgow Art Fair : The national art fair celebrates its 14th edition with a display from over 50 galleries throughout Scotland, the UK and the world. (Glasgow)
- 17 May : Etape Caledonia : The only closed-road cycling event in the UK, this 81-mile ride offers a mix of athletic challenge and gorgeous scenery. (Perthshire)
- 23 May : Heineken Cup final : The most coveted cup in club rugby is decided right here, with clubs from the six rugby nations of Europe competing all Spring to make it here. (Edinburgh)
- 5-13 June : Nairn Book and Arts Festival : As if you need an excuse to visit this lovely Highland town, come and see it’s biggest event of the year, and a great way to take in some culture without the crowds of the big cities down south. Throughout June, there are also other book festivals all over Scotland. (Nairn, Highlands)
- 16-19 July : The British Open : Where better to watch the world’s best golfers tee off than in the country that invented the sport? The lovely Turnberry golf course will host the 138th Open Championship, its fourth. (South Ayrshire)
- 18-19 July : Inverness Highland Games : If golf isn’t quite your sport, try this festival of traditional sport. There are many highland games around the world these days, but this is the real thing. It’s likely to be the biggest one ever, and if you’ve never seen one, now is the time. (Inverness)
- 25-26 July : The Gathering : Over 10,000 Scots from around the world are expected to attend this meeting of the clans. If you’ve got Scottish blood in you, this is a great chance to connect with far-flung family members you never knew you had. (Edinburgh)
- 7-9 Aug : Ayr Flower Show : Horticulture is more than a hobby across Britain – it’s often a matter of extreme civic pride. Come see beautiful displays from some of Scotland’s most celebrated gardens, as well as entries from all over the world. (Ayr)
- 7-31 Aug : Edinburgh Fringe : The largest arts festival in the world, Fringe includes over 2,000 shows in over 200 venues. If you are a fan of any genre or medium of art or performance, you will find something here you’ll love. Guaranteed. This is just one of many Edinburgh festivals in August. (Edinburgh)
- 5-9 Sept : World Cup Qualifying : Football-mad Scotland will go absolutely insane for a week this fall, as the last two matches in Scotland’s campaign to qualify for World Cup 2010 are both played at home. Book early. (Glasgow)
- 26 Sept – 5 Oct : Angus and Dundee Roots Festival : As part of Homecoming 2009, this festival is focused on teaching those with roots in the region more about where, and who, they came from. (Dundee)
- 30 Oct – 22 Nov : Sound : Scotland may be celebrating its traditions this year, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t also looking forward. Sound is Scotland’s premier festival of electronic music, as well as other genres that refuse to be easily labeled. If you have a kid who thinks a trip to Scotland can’t be “cool”, show them this. (Aberdeen)
- 23-30 Nov : St. Andrews Festival : Ceilidh, music and other festivities mark the holiday honoring Scotland’s patron saint. Always one of the biggest traditional festivals of the year, it will take on special significance as part of Homecoming 2009. (Fife)
- 31 Dec : Hogmanay : No one celebrates the New Year like the Scots, and as the cap to this special year of remembering Scotland’s history, the two biggest cities in Scotland will be competing to see who can throw the biggest party. The capital always seems to win, though, and fireworks over Edinburgh Castle are not be missed.