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Perth 800: A Year-long Birthday Party

The town of Perth isn’t one of the larger tourist destinations in Scotland, being largely outshined in this regard by Edinburgh to the south and Glasgow to the west. But 2010 is a very special year for Perth, and anyone planning a trip to Scotland this year should consider a visit. After all, how often do you get to be part of an 800th birthday celebration?

In 1210, King William (“the Lion of Scotland”) granted a royal charter to officially found the Burgh of Perth, making this Perth’s 800th anniversary. Naturally, the entire region is pulling out all the stops to mark the occasion. The celebration is being called Perth 800, and includes all told more than 100 individual events throughout the entire year.

Selected Perth 800 Events

21-22 January: Off Kilter, Perth Concert Hall
An ambitious dance performance meant to highlight all of the many forms and styles of dance in modern Scotland, from homegrown Celtic dances to imported styles from India and elsewhere.

10 March: Home and Away Samaagam Concert
Speaking of dance, Samaagam is a fusion of Western and Indian music and dance, creating a unique and exciting show. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra joins with award-winning Indian musician Amjad Ali Khan to bring this cultural experience to Perth.

19-21 March: Niel Gow Festival
Niel Gow was perhaps Perthshire’s most musician, an 18th century fiddler who remains a source of local pride and continues to inspire local artists to this day. The Niel Gow Festival was established to honor Gow as well as to expose the finest classical musicians in Scotland (fiddle or otherwise). For lovers of traditional Scottish music, a must-see.

23-25 April: Perth 800 Film Festival
The 800th anniversary of Perth’s charter is also the 10th anniversary of the Perth Film Society, and the society is celebrating both with a 3-day film festival.

16 May: Etape Caledonia
As the weather starts to warm, the Perth 800 events calendar changes likewise, shifting more to outdoor and recreational themes. The first of these is the Etape Caledonia, an 81-mile bicycle ride (all on traffic-free roads) through Highland Perthshire. It is the first closed-road mass-participation cycle event in Britain, and promises to be one of the events of the year for bicycle enthusiasts in Scotland.

20-30 May: Perth Festival of the Arts
Traditionally, arts festival season comes in August, but Perth is starting this year’s edition early, with 10 days of performances by The English Touring Opera, The Moscow State Symphony, the Halle Orchestra and more. Of all the events going on as part of Perth 800, this might be the heart of the high-culture category.

29-31 May: Heart of Scotland 100
Hiking and distance walking are elevated to nearly an art form in Scotland, and this event sponsored by the Long Distance Walkers Association promises participants some of the most rugged, beautiful and interesting sights in Scotland. Not for the easily calloused, it’s 100 miles in three days, so bring a good pair of shoes.

1-30 June: Perthshire Archaeology Month
June is the time to explore and celebrate Perth’s rich past, and this year, local archaeologists are centering on the 800-year period since the royal charter. A great educational event for visitors of any age.

2 July: Perth Day
Though the Perth 800 celebration lasts all year, this is the day when all of Perth comes out to show its local pride. A great chance to see and hear some excellent pipe and drum bands, and to help the town commemorate its special year.

9-11 July: T in the Park
Over 170 artists will play on 11 stages for 80,000 fans in Scotland’s largest outdoor music festival. In addition to all the great music, there are 8 bars set up for the event, so there will be no lack of party atmosphere.

26-29 August: Johnnie Walker Golf Championship
For golf fans visiting Scotland in August, Gleneagles Golf Club is the place to be, as this classic tournament will draw some of Europe and the world’s finest. The championship course being played will be the host course for the 2014 Ryder Cup.

18-19 September: Home and Away Carnival and Festival
Drummer Nana Vasconcelos leads two days of musical events blending local music with that of his native Brazil. There are workshops covering music, dance, art and more, with a lot of focus on kids, making this a fantastic family event.

15-31 October: The Enchanted Forest
The Enchanted Forest, now in its 9th year, is a sound and light show that is difficult to describe. This year, it transforms Faskally Wood outside of Perth into a beautiful and surreal landscape you won’t soon forget. As if Scotland in the autumn wasn’t magical enough.

23-24 October: The Tay Descent
As part of the Paddle Canoe and Kayak Expedition 2010, the Scottish Canoe Association are holding a canoe and kayak descent of the River Tay. Choose a course between 6 and 23 miles long, and ride the river straight into Perth.

27-28 November: Andermass Fair
In medieval times, Andermass Fair was an outdoor fair and celebration to commemorate the feast of St. Andrews and the beginning of Advent. Keeping a medieval theme, this year’s event should be even more festive than usual, as Perth’s big year starts to wrap up.

19 December: Christmas Craft Market
If you are lucky enough to spend Christmas in Scotland, you’d better not return without some souvenirs to keep your friends and family from getting too jealous. You will be sure to find unique Scottish gifts for everyone on your list here, including amazing woodwork, handmade jewelry, ceramics and more.

This is just a sampling of all the events going on in Perth. For a complete list, check out the official site at