There are many reasons to make Scotland the place to be in 2024; whether it’s a newly discovered 5,000-year-old tomb in Orkney, or Shetland preparing for its first orbital rocket launch, Scotland offers wow-moments galore. Visitors in 2024 are guaranteed to make unforgettable memories while exploring the country’s vibrant cities and stunning landscapes on new trails, or discovering exciting new attractions. The selection below is only a handful of Scotland’s upcoming openings to look forward to in the year ahead, as the destination is ever-changing and ever-growing to provide the best visitor experience possible.
Perth Museum, Perth, Spring 2024
The new Perth Museum will open its doors in spring, Easter weekend of 2024 after a £26.5 million redevelopment project. The world-class cultural and heritage attraction will highlight the fascinating objects and stories that put Perth and Kinross at the centre of Scotland’s story. The new museum will showcase various objects of interest, including the 3,000-year-old Carpow Logboat and the Stone of Destiny (one of Scotland’s most significant historical objects, an ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy that was used to crown Scottish Kings, returning to Perthshire for the first time in over 700 years). Perth, one of Scotland’s eight cities, sits on the banks of the River Tay in the east of Scotland, just a short journey from Edinburgh or Glasgow. Perth is nestled between two sprawling public parks, and has elegant Georgian townhouses, cobbled streets and medieval spires. Explore the monuments, the art gallery and museum before discovering the glorious Perthshire countryside. When visiting Perth, look out for the colourful sculptures in the Hairy Highland Coo Trail, coming to local spaces in summer 2024.
Scottish Crannog Centre, Perthshire, Spring 2024
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 2024. A crannog is a house built over water, usually with a bridge or causeway joining them to the shore, and visitors can step inside one to discover unique insight into life in the Iron Age. 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.
Braemar Castle, Aberdeenshire, Spring 2024
Built by the Earl of Mar in 1628, Braemar Castle has been a hunting lodge, fortress, garrison and family home. An iconic 17th century landmark in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, Braemar Castle is currently undergoing a £1.6 million restoration programme to re-render the exterior which aims to be complete by spring 2024. The castle’s future rests with the small community of Braemar, and over the past ten years the village has been working to raise funds and gradually conserve and restore the castle to provide even better facilities for future visitors.
Craigievar Castle, Aberdeenshire, Spring 2024
An example of the best of Scottish Baronial architecture, Craigievar Castle fits naturally amongst the rolling hills of Aberdeenshire. The elegant pink tower of Craigievar Castle was completed in 1626 and is amongst the most loved in Scotland. The castle is currently undergoing a major conservation project to carry out essential maintenance work, including refreshing the lime wash that gives Craigievar its distinctive and beloved pink colour. Visitors will be treated to a grand reveal in spring 2024, when the new exterior is unveiled.
The 152nd Open at Royal Troon, Ayrshire, July 2024
Royal Troon’s Old Course was founded in 1878, expanded to eighteen-holes ten years later and re-designed by five-times Champion Golfer James Braid ahead of its first Open in 1923. It will host its 10th Open from 14 to 21 July 2024.
The Playbill FringeShip, Edinburgh, August 2024
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, including over 3,000 shows that span theatre, cabaret, and comedy shows. With visitors flocking to the city to experience the world-renowned festival, Playbill is launching the Playbill Fringeship, the official ‘Floatel’ of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Ambassador Cruise Line’s Ambition – a sustainable and modern cruise ship – will be docked for a week in Edinburgh’s buzzing port neighbourhood of Leith, from 8 – 15 August 2024, carrying up to 1,300 guests in cabins and suites.
Lost Shore Surf Resort, Edinburgh, September 2024
Lost Shore Surf Resort is coming to Edinburgh in September 2024, when it will proudly become Europe’s largest inland surfing destination. Capable of generating up to 1,000 waves per hour, the state-of-the-art surf lake will be set within a 60-acre country park and will offer unique accommodation in the form of premium pods and luxurious lodges, a food market, retail spaces, and a wellness spa.
High Praise for the Far North…
The Far North of Scotland has been named as one of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel destinations for 2024. The region, which includes Caithness and Sutherland, is home to some of the country’s most beautiful and special habitats including The Flow Country; the most intact and extensive blanket bog system in the world. The travel publication highlights the increased recognition the region may enjoy as The Flow Country aims to achieve UNESCO World Heritage status. Lonely Planet describes 2024 as ’the perfect time to make a trip to the Far North of Scotland, exploring both its unsung boggy interior and a coastline of heartbreaking beauty’.
And the South…
The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, Scotland’s first UNESCO Biosphere, is celebrating the news that National Geographic Traveller (UK) has named it as one of the most exciting destinations for 2024 in its prestigious global Cool List. Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere’s listing celebrates the reserve’s natural heritage, its UNESCO designation and its recently extended boundary, which recognises the site’s cultural significance. It was revealed earlier this year that the site has now almost doubled in size from more than 5,200 km² to almost 9,800 km² – incorporating Alloway (the birthplace of Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns) and the Rhins of Galloway (Scotland’s most southernly point).
And the Scottish Islands…
The Scottish Islands have been chosen as a ‘Best Place to Go in 2024’ by US travel media company, Frommer’s. Frommer’s describes the Scottish Islands as a ‘breath of fresh air’ and ‘a world apart with more than a hint of magic to each of them’. With a shoutout to the white sandy beaches of Barra and Harris, the world’s finest whiskies from Islay’s distilleries, the dramatic sea stacks in Orkney and the wildlife in Shetland, their overview of this beautiful part of Scotland is just a glimpse into the many reasons why visitors should put the islands on their must-visit list.
From exciting new visitor attractions such as the first vertical distillery located in Edinburgh’s trendy neighbourhood of Leith; and the Gin Bothy Experience where Scottish bothy traditions and culture meet tasting and retail; to innovative ways to make whisky production more sustainable (cue the distillery that recycles its hot air to heat the local swimming pool), there are endless reasons to explore the world of whisky and gin in Scotland. Not least the number of new openings to look forward to in 2024.
Dunphail Distillery, Moray Speyside, Now Open
Opened in 2023, Dunphail is a resolutely traditional distillery, dedicated to crafting the finest whisky the way it used to be made. It has been constructed from a one-time farm steading and sits in the beautiful countryside of the Speyside region. Their exclusive distillery hand-fill is available for visitors wanting to bottle their own whisky straight from the cask.
Eden Mill Distillery, St Andrews, Summer 2024
After lying still for over 150 years, Eden Mill brings the art of distilling back to this historical area in the form of a new distillery experience and a range of premium single malt whiskies and gins. The front wall of the building will feature large glass windows providing beautiful views out over the estuary and the iconic St Andrews skyline. All their electricity will be 100% renewable, coming from either the solar farm belonging to the University of St Andrews or other renewable energy sources. Additionally, the CO₂ produced during the fermentation process will be captured for the University to use.
Edinburgh Gin Distillery & Visitor Experience, Edinburgh, Summer 2024
The Arches on East Market Street, in the heart of Scotland’s capital city, will soon be home to the highly anticipated Edinburgh Gin state-of-the-art Distillery and Visitor Experience. The opening will mark the relocation of their distilleries from Rutland Street and Leith, uniting the essence of the brand under one roof. The meticulously designed brand home promises immersive experiences that will transport visitors on a journey filled with wonder.
Rosebank Distillery, Falkirk, 2024
After 30 years of closure, Rosebank Distillery, once the beating heart of the Scottish town of Falkirk, restarted production in summer 2023. The ancient buildings have been tirelessly restored. Three gleaming copper stills now take centre-stage in a magnificent glass-fronted still house. In the middle, proudly connecting Rosebank’s past and future stands the towering 108ft distillery chimney stack, which has been a famous landmark in Falkirk for as long as anyone can recall. With the visitor centre set to open in 2024, whisky lovers can look forward to re-discovering the distillery during a range of tours and tastings.
closed his Port of Menteith restaurant, has given Nick and his wife Julia the opportunity to revamp the Cook School to the highest order. Fitted with the latest technology and cooking facilities, the Cook School now provides a more intimate setting with a maximum of 12 in each class.
With atmospheric crowds, iconic venues and picture-perfect backdrops, Scotland plays host to world leading sporting events as well as music and cultural festivals. Edinburgh is the world’s leading festival city with amazing events taking place year-round, including the world-renowned Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 2024, visitors can choose from small local events to large international crowds, see below to find out what’s in store.
Celtic Connections, Glasgow, January/February 2024
Celtic Connections, Glasgow’s annual folk, roots and world music festival celebrates its connections to cultures across the globe. From 18 January to 4 February 2024, over 2,100 musicians from around the world bring the city to life for eighteen days. During this time, there are concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, workshops and free events for visitors and locals alike to enjoy.
Spectra Festival of Light, Aberdeen, February
Spectra, Scotland’s magical Festival of Light returns to Aberdeen from 8 – 11 February, shining a light on Scotland’s glorious Northeast for the tenth time. Each year, the festival brings a spectacular programme of works by some of the world’s leading visual artists, studios and companies to transform the Granite City with light, sound and eye-catching visual art.
World Athletics Championships, Glasgow, March 2024
Glasgow has a proven track record of hosting major sporting events and 2024 is no different! The World Athletics Indoor Championships will provide the city of Glasgow with three days of world class action from 1 – 3 March. There will be six sessions of sport filled with exciting competition in the Emirates Arena, with some of the best athletes in the world competing for prestigious World Indoor titles. Up to 650 competitors from more than 130 countries are expected to take part, competing in 26 events, 13 for men and 13 for women.
National Cyclo-cross Championships, Falkirk, January 2024
The 2024 National Cyclo-cross Championships will be held in Scotland for the very first time, in Falkirk’s Callendar Park. The championships will take place over the weekend of 13 –14 January. Home to the 14th century Callendar House, the park provides a stunning backdrop to the racing, with the challenging course quickly becoming a firm favourite of riders and spectators alike.
World Orienteering Championships, Edinburgh, July 2024
While often thought of as a countryside sport, from 12 – 16 July 2024 orienteering will take over Edinburgh, when the Sprint World Orienteering Championships visit Scotland’s capital city. Five days of racing – for everyone from elite athletes to complete beginners – will showcase orienteering and allow people of all abilities to enjoy a world-class sport in a world-class city.
Cullen Skink World Championships, Moray Speyside, March 2024
Cullen Skink is a thick Scottish soup traditionally made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions and takes its name from the town of Cullen in Moray, on the northeast coast of Scotland. On Sunday 17 March 2024, the Cullen Skink World Championships will take place in the Cullen, hosting two events – the Traditional Cullen Skink competition and Cullen Skink with a Twist competition – and spectators are welcome at both. Judges will taste each competitor’s version in a blind tasting, with the contestant with the highest score being declared as the Cullen Skink World Champion.
Scotland on Two Wheels
There are many ways to explore Scotland, but cycling is one of the best. Cycling allows visitors to take their time and see more, relax and unwind, and be more eco-friendly all in one go. Visitors can choose to cycle one of Scotland’s amazing long distance cycle routes, such as the new Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast Cycling route from Stranraer on the west coast to Eyemouth on the east coast. This cycle route celebrates Scotland’s rich history of innovation and the South’s key role in the creation of the bicycle with its 250 miles of uninterrupted joy. In early 2024, the full cycle route will be launched with signposts along the way.
In August 2023, Glasgow was host to the UCI Cycling World Championships. It was the single biggest cycling event in history, bringing together for the first time 13 existing UCI World Championships into one mega event. To capitalise on the legacy of the event, five new cycling routes have been mapped out by Sustrans Scotland, with two in the Scottish Borders, one in Dumfries and Galloway, one in Glasgow, and one in Stirling. Find out more about these fantastic routes here to begin mapping out a cycling holiday in Scotland. In May 2024, Fort William in the Scottish Highlands will feature as one of 15 race weekends in the 2024 UCI Mountain Bike World Series.
For those looking for some culture with their active adventure, head to Orkney and cycle the new Hoy on Hoy route, a 31km road cycle inspired by six-time Olympic Champion, Sir Chris Hoy, which takes in the Scapa Flow Museum, ancient archeology and some of Orkney’s best scenery.
Scotland’s history stretches back thousands and thousands of years and fascinating stories of the past await both in the country’s vibrant cities and most remote islands. A number of big anniversaries in 2024 offer the opportunity for visitors to join local communities in the celebrations.
Stirling Celebrates 900 Years as a Burgh
Stirling, a Royal Burgh founded by King David I in 1124, is approaching its 900th anniversary, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Scotland. Nowhere else in Europe can one traverse from a historic battlefield to a Celtic fort, a medieval palace, and the site of a Jacobite siege, all within a 15-minute walk. Visitors are encouraged to join locals for a year-long celebration of everything that makes Scotland truly unique, from the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie to the significance of tartan and the mysteries of Bloody Scotland.
Robert the Bruce’s 750th Anniversary
Robert the Bruce is a ruler which the history books remember; many regard him as being Scotland’s most successful monarch. With the 750th anniversary of his birth coming up on 11 July 2024 there has never been a better time to follow in the footsteps of Scotland’s most famous king by exploring the Robert the Bruce Trail in the South of Scotland or other locations thought to be connected to him such as Scone Palace and Dunfermline Abbey. On the day itself, Maybole in Ayrshire near where Robert the Bruce is said to have been born will host the Robert the Bruce Heritage Day with medieval fun for the whole family.
HMS Unicorn’s 200th Anniversary
First launched in 1824, HMS Unicorn – which can be visited in Dundee – is the third oldest ship afloat in the world and the oldest ship in Scotland. In celebration of her 200th anniversary, no less than two special presents have been commissioned for the museum ship: A new musical piece about her history will be performed on board as part of a series of events during the anniversary year. And a newly designed statue, a 3 metre all-steel artwork of a unicorn rearing on its hind legs, is set to form the centrepiece of a new garden for HMS Unicorn.
The Kelpies Turn 10
Standing at 100ft tall and weighing more than 300 tonnes each, the magical Kelpies, located within Falkirk’s The Helix Park, are the largest equine sculptures in the world. The stunning sculptures, created by artist Andy Scott 10 years ago, have become iconic on the landscape after being modelled on real-life icons of times gone by — Clydesdale horses Duke and Baron. During a free event on 27 April visitors can enjoy street theatre, storytellers and artists who will create a vibrant and colourful scene to experience alongside the spectacular sculptures, culminating in a big family ceilidh, pipe band demonstrations, not to mention a specially invited guestlist of Clydesdale horses to mark the breed’s significant contribution to Scotland’s industrial heritage and inspiration for Andy Scott’s masterpiece. The day of celebration will be followed by a concert in the evening.
Main image: The Kelpies. Photo: VisitScotland.