Scotland’s the place to be in 2023

Celebrate a new year with plenty to discover across Scotland. New stories, special moments and unforgettable memories are ready to be made in Scotland in 2023. From January through to December there are plenty of reasons why Scotland should be at the top of any travel bucket list. Start the year with Burns Night Celebrations across the country, watch the blooming of bluebells, snowdrops, and fresh fauna, welcoming new wildlife in spring, before gearing up for a festival extravaganza in the summer months. Then comes the turning of the leaves casting a golden blanket over the luscious landscapes before winter rolls round again and the year closes with the sound of fireworks and revelry at Hogmanay celebrations far and wide. 

There are cabins aplenty positioned under the stars for views that are out of this world, lush green forests and spectacular waterfalls spraying mists that are reinvigoratingly cool, and intimate gigs where revellers can dance the night away. So, whether seeking adventure or tranquillity, shopping or feasting – or a taste of it all – those who venture to Scotland will find a world of choices at their fingertips. And as always, visitors can expect a warm welcome awaiting them!  There are many reasons to make Scotland the place to be in 2023, the list below is just a selection of some of the major openings, news updates and events to look forward to in the year ahead.

2023 highlights

Dundreggan Rewilding Centre.

Celtic Connections 30th Anniversary, January 2023

Celtic Connections, the home of world-class music, one-off collaborations, and genre-defying spectacles, is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary in January 2023. The 30th Anniversary is a pinnacle moment for the festival as it recognises the advancements and achievements of the last thirty years and everything the organisers have overcome to bring people together in a defining cultural celebration. The internationally renowned festival marks this milestone with an ambitious and eclectic programme of music showcased between Thursday 19th January – Sunday 5th February 2023. The full programme can be viewed here: www.celticconnections.com

Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, March 2023

Opening in 2023, Dundreggan Rewilding Centre will be Trees for Life’s flagship rewilding estate, a unique place rich in natural and cultural heritage where real change is happening, restoring Scotland’s landscape. The new wild landscape and its ancient connections to Gaelic culture will encourage people to ‘rewild’ themselves by connecting with nature and exploring the heritage of the Highlands. Dundreggan Rewilding Centre will become a gateway for people to experience rewilding in ways that are best suited to them; from a casual visit while passing through, to immersive experiences, encouraging the idea that we can work with nature rather than against it.

V&A Dundee – Tartan, April 2023

In its fifth anniversary year, V&A Dundee will offer a radical new look at one of the world’s best-known fabrics through its flagship exhibition: Tartan. Tartan, the first major exhibition curated by V&A Dundee, with consultant curator ​​Jonathan Faiers of the University of Southampton, will celebrate the global story of a unique pattern which has connected communities worldwide, expressed tradition, revolt and diversity, and inspired playful and provocative design. It is a complex, rich, and sometimes painful history unequalled by any other cloth or pattern. Tartan is a textile which is adored and derided, inspiring great works of art and design, and representative of unity and dissent, tradition and rebellion.

Moreover, V&A Dundee, the first V&A museum in the world outside London, will celebrate its fifth anniversary in September 2023. For more information and to book, please visit: www.vam.ac.uk/dundee

Scottish Crannog Centre, spring 2023

The Scottish Crannog Centre is currently building a new museum located at the site of Dalerb on the North side of Loch Tay in Perthshire which is set to open in spring 2023. The aim of The Scottish Crannog Centre at Dalerb is to be the most sustainable museum in Scotland. The new visitor centre will showcase internationally significant archaeological collections, an Iron Age-inspired village of craft and technology demonstrations, and the first of three expert-led, but community-built, crannogs. For more information, please visit www.crannog.co.uk.

Tall Ships Races, July 2023

Shetland will once again host the Tall Ships Races from Wednesday 26th July to Saturday 29th July in Lerwick. The Tall Ships Races is an annual race series that has been arranged by Sail Training International since 1956 and in summer 2023 the town of Lerwick will welcome the fleet for four days of celebrations, sharing culture and international friendships. The full event programme is currently under development and is set to be published in March 2023. For more information and to keep up to date, please visit www.tallshipslerwick.com

2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, August 2023 

The biggest cycling event in the world comes to Scotland in 2023! The world’s greatest riders will come together in Glasgow and across Scotland to compete at the highest level, make history and show the world the power of the bike. Across 11 days of events, competitors will compete for over 200 rainbow jerseys and World Champions will be crowned in events covering everything from BMX to Mountain Biking, Indoor Cycling to Road Cycling, Para-Cycling and much, much more. With Scotland’s beautiful bike-ready landscapes, legendary cycling centres and epic arenas ready to welcome competitors and visitors from all over the world, there’s never been a better time to plan a cycling trip to Scotland. This event is more than an event exclusive for elite riders, it’s an opportunity for everyone to ride their bicycle! For more information, please visit www.cyclingworldchamps.com

Coast to Coast Cycle Route, Stranraer to Eyemouth, summer 2023

An exciting new 250 mile on-road cycle route covering the length of the South of Scotland has received the green light to progress to delivery stage. The Coast-to-Coast route will run from Stranraer to Eyemouth, making it one of the longest in the UK and a new challenge for experienced cyclists. Riders who want to test themselves can tackle the Coast-to-Coast Challenge route over four days but are highly recommended to slow down, immerse themselves and enjoy more of what the South of Scotland has to offer by completing the Explorer route over eight days or more. The project is aiming to be delivered in time for the 2023 UCI World Championships in Glasgow and across Scotland. Three of the 13 Championships are taking place in the South of Scotland in August next year, allowing visitors to the South to try the new route during or after the Championships.

The Scottish National Gallery, summer 2023

The transformative project to deliver an inspiring new space for Scotland’s renowned collection of Scottish art is set be completed in 2023. From summer 2023, visitors can look forward to experiencing a brand-new suite of world-class galleries at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh. The Scottish National Gallery Project will create a beautiful space for Scotland’s art right in the historic heart of Edinburgh, with striking displays drawn from the National Galleries of Scotland’s broad-ranging collection alongside special loans from other leading arts institutions. Large windows will offer spectacular light-filled views across Princes Street Gardens, inviting visitors to come in and discover the work of pioneering Scottish artists such as Phoebe Anna Traquair, William McTaggart, Anne Redpath, Sir Henry Raeburn and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. For more information, please visit www.nationalgalleries.org

Scot City knows the score

New Edmiston House.

Rangers will open a new club museum in Glasgow soon. New Edmiston House will be an incredible, state-of-the-art facility that will host a long-awaited club museum, a new two-storey Rangers Store and an events space for use on matchdays and beyond, thus enhancing the experience for supporters when they visit Ibrox. The new museum opening coincides with the Scottish club’s 150th anniversary.

For budding golfers and enthusiasts alike, Glasgow also welcomes the addition of Topgolf. Make use of complimentary clubs or visitors can bring their own, take aim at the giant outfield targets using high-tech balls which automatically keep score. Enjoy climate-controlled hitting bays for year-round practice, relax in the sports bar or refuel in the onsite restaurant.

For even more golfing fun in the city, Golf It! is The R&A’s brand-new golf concept that will open in Glasgow in summer 2023. The vast new indoor and outdoor attraction is a new innovation and marks a significant financial investment by The R&A towards its purpose of making golf more accessible and inclusive. The new facility will feature a range of introductory golf formats including a twist on pitch and putt, adventure golf and community putting greens plus a double decker floodlit driving range and a new look nine-hole course for all the family to play.

Have a dram

Eden Mill Distillery.

The Cairn Distillery-Late October 2022 saw the opening of The Cairn Distillery, the first new distillery to be built in the Cairngorms National Park for more than a century. Nestled on the banks of the river Spey on the northern frontier of the Cairngorms National Park, every detail of The Cairn Distillery has been considered to create a remarkable structure that is reflective of its environment.  From its sedum roof which encourages insect life to thrive, to the Caithness stone pathways, every aspect is designed to respect the natural shapes and colours around it. The new distillery aims to build on Gordon & MacPhail’s 127-year heritage of producing exceptional Scotch whisky to inspire future generations. With magnificent views of its stunning location just outside Grantown-on-Spey, visitors can choose from a selection of immersive experiences, each culminating in a whisky tasting in The Discovery Room.

Moffat Distillery-Dark Sky Spirits will open Moffat’s first distillery soon. In keeping with the desire for sustainability and local resources, the distillery will have the only wood-fired still in Scotland with wood collected from local, sustainable sources. The pilot set-up is a 350-litre wash still and a 200-litre spirit still which will make Moffat Distillery the smallest whisky producer in Scotland with a visitor centre.

Port of Leith Distillery-A distillery like no other, Port of Leith Distillery is set to become Scotland’s first vertical distillery when it opens its doors in 2023. Set in the historic Port of Leith, the distillery will draw on the incredibly rich whisky heritage of Edinburgh and the history of Leith which was once an epicentre of the industry. The distillery forms part of the resurgence of distilling in the area and will offer guided tours, tastings and a rooftop bar with panoramic views across Edinburgh, Leith and Fife.

Eden Mill Distillery-Founded in 2012, Eden Mill was the first distillery in the region for over 150 years and today has a premium gin portfolio crafted from the finest botanicals, many foraged from in and around St Andrews. Over ten years later, Eden Mill have an ambition to create the finest gins and Scotch whiskies with minimal environmental impact combining traditional distilling techniques with ground-breaking innovation. Eden Mill is building a stunning distillery at the mouth of the River Eden, overlooking the iconic, historic town of St Andrews. The new distillery sits at the heart of the University of St Andrews Eden Campus, a unique site dedicated to zero carbon and sustainable businesses and research.

Trip-spiration – Go your own way

The Flying Scotsman.

From cycle paths to long-distance walking trails, set-jetting to train trips, there are many ways to follow your own path around Scotland in 2023.

A wheely good time-Avid cyclists can follow in the tracks of the world champions set to be crowned at the UCI Cycling World Championships in August and plan a bike-packing trip through the hills and glens of Scotland’s stunning scenery. With routes covering the abbeys in The Borders, island hopping in the Hebrides and the dramatic coastlines in the north, there’s adventure to be had in all corners of Scotland. For those looking for day experiences, an adrenaline-fuelled day at one of the 7Stanes mountain bike centres in the south of Scotland is sure to get the heart pumping or, with routes for all abilities, a day on the waymarked paths at Gravelfoyle is a great way to take in the stunning landscapes of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park at a more leisurely pace. Cities in Scotland are getting greener and Glasgow, Scotland’s very own Dear Green Place, provides a variety of ways to explore the city in a more responsible way from OVO Bikes to the fully electric fleet of sight-seeing buses launching in 2023, it’s never been as easy to keep it green! 

Stay on track-Perhaps a different track appeals more and with the Flying Scotsman celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2023, there’s never been a better reason to hop on board a train and sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s easy to explore Scotland’s eight cities as each are connected by a variety of rail routes meaning a day trip or longer stay to explore each of their cultural highlights, historical sites and foodie delights is only a train ride, or two, away.  Scotland is home to some of the world’s most iconic railway journeys and the routes are surrounded by postcard-perfect views that are guaranteed to surprise and mesmerise as the train rolls by. From Glasgow, travellers can hop on the West Highland Line to the westerly port town of Mallaig traversing remote wilderness and the world-renowned Glenfinnan Viaduct. While from Edinburgh, passengers can climb aboard the longest new domestic railway to be built in over 100 years deep into the picturesque Scottish Borders and the land of Sir Walter Scott. Departures from Inverness include the coast-to-coast Kyle Line, taking in spectacular Highland scenery and finishing with magnificent views of Skye, and the Far North Line which traces the North Sea coast up to Wick, from which it’s only a short hop by bus over to John O’Groats, the most northerly inhabited point on the mainland. 

These boots were made for walking-From an afternoon amble on a leafy forest path to bagging a Munro, from a city stroll to a coastal walk, exploring the great outdoors on foot in Scotland is a fantastic way to spend a holiday. The Seven Wonders of Scotland’s Walking World provide a unique glimpse into Scotland’s natural heritage and offer spectacular walks with views and are located across the country. Adventurous hikers can take on the West Highland Way, a 96-mile challenge between Milngavie and Fort William, or they can cross coast-to-coast on the John Muir Way or follow in the footsteps of pilgrims from centuries ago on the Fife Pilgrim Way. These walks can be enjoyed section by section or as an adventure across several days.

As scene on screen-Launched in November 2022, Set in Scotland is a 52-page guide featuring more than 150 films which have been shot entirely or partially in Scotland – such as Braveheart (1995), Skyfall (2012), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019) and The Batman (2022) – and details more than 100 film locations. Set-jetting is a great way to follow in the footsteps of the legends of TV and film and with two iconic films celebrating big anniversaries in 2023, The Wicker Man (1973) and Local Hero (1983), there’s never been a better time to explore. This handy guide has all the location information needed to plot out a blockbuster trip to Scotland for 2023. The guide and more information can be found at: www.visitscotland.com/see-do/attractions/tv-film

From Edinburgh Castle, Iona Abbey and St Andrews Cathedral to Skara Brae, Urquhart Castle and The Falkirk Wheel, there are dozens of exciting attractions and sites across Scotland to visit in 2023.  For more inspiring days out and exclusive offers and discounts visit www.visitscotland.com/holidays-breaks/day-trips/offers.

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