Scotland’s Party Season – November-January!

Celebrate in a land of fire, whisky, poetry, and midnight shenanigans.

I wanted to share this information I received from Visit Scotland. When it gets dark in Scotland, when winter approaches and the temperature drops, we just start to party. Here’s a solid round up of things to do across the country, many of which will welcome little ones.

Ho ho holidays are coming with Scotland’s winter festivals

Between raising the roof on St Andrew’s Day (30 November) for Scotland’s patron saint, and raising a dram in honour of the Bard on Burns Night (25 January) – with the world-famous Hogmanay celebrations in between – it’s fair to say that Scotland does a celebration well.  Revellers are invited to get into the festive spirit and join Scotland’s Winter Festivals, taking place throughout the country.

St Andrew’s Day – 30 November 2017

Oban Winter Festival
A ten day festival featuring St Andrew’s Day celebrations, markets, parades, fireworks, street entertainers, fairgrounds, family events, pipe bands, ceilidhs, whisky tasting, and so much more. Where: Oban When: 17-26 November 2017

Glasgow’s St Andrew’s Day Torchlight Parade
Community torchlight procession through the streets of Glasgow’s west end to mark Scotland’s Patron Saint Day, with pipe bands, samba drummers and fire performers. Where: Glasgow When: 30 November 2017

St Andrew’s Day: At the Ends of the Earth
A range of events on offer in the daytime including market stalls, lantern making workshops and circus skills workshops. In the evening, there will be an outdoor ceilidh followed by a lantern procession. The celebrations will culminate in a spectacular fire show with a magical firework display at the town’s ancient Harbour. Where: St Andrews When: 2 December 2017

The Saltire Festival
The Saltire Festival is an annual celebration of St. Andrew’s Day, bringing together the very best of Scotland in East Lothian, known as the place where the original Scottish saltire – the white diagonal cross on a sky blue background – was first adopted.  Visitors can discover all that Scotland has to offer; the beautiful outdoors and stunning coastal landscape, delicious food & drink, created with the finest local produce, a long history and fascinating heritage, and hugely entertaining music, arts and comedy. Where: East Lothian When: 30 November – 3 December 2017

illumination: Harbour Festival of Light
Irvine’s historic waterfront will twinkle with lights this St Andrew’s Day as the Scottish Maritime Museum’s award-winning four day winter spectacular, illumination: Harbour Festival of Light, returns with even more sparkle. Festival highlights include the jaw-dropping illumination Light, Fire and Aerial Art Spectacular in and around the vast Linthouse, the Light Trail, lantern parade, firework displays and food and craft fair. Where: Irvine, Ayrshire When: 30 November – 3 December

St Andrews Day Celebrations Loch Lomond Shores
A weekend of Scottish-themed celebration for St Andrews Day. Includes fireworks, music, activities, Scottish food and drink and more.  Suitable for all ages. Where: Loch LomondWhen: 2 December – 3 December

Scottish Storytelling Centre – Winter Festivals The Scottish Storytelling Centre delivers an inclusive celebration of winter traditions, across generations, cultures and societies, from St Andrew’s Day celebrations to Burns Night. Where: Edinburgh When: 28 November 2017 – 27 January 2018

Night at the Museum
The Hunterian Museum will come to life for St Andrew’s Day to celebrate forgotten histories and heritage. From Peter Pan to Outlander, modern Scottish fantasy as portrayed in literature, film and TV, provides the theme for this dazzling event. Working in partnership with the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at University of Glasgow, The Hunterian will also host a Night at the Museum event celebrating the works of the bard in translation for Burns Night 2018. Where: Glasgow When: 24 November 2017 – 26 January 2018

Scotland’s Winter Festivals at An Lanntair
An Lanntair’s Winter Festival events begin with a full week of activities to celebrate St Andrew’s day including cinema, food and drink taster sessions, a quiz night and, of course, the best contemporary and traditional music available. We mark the New Year season with performances by ceilidh band Hò-rò and our annual showcase of local musicians Willie Campbell and Friends.  The festival completes the season with a specially commissioned concert of the work of Robert Burns for string quartet. Where: Stornoway, Isle of Lewis When: 27 November 2017 – 27 January 2018

Christmas Markets and more…

Edinburgh’s Christmas The six-week season of festive entertainment sees market stalls and family-friendly attractions return to Princes Street Gardens and the elliptical outdoor ice rink to St Andrew Square.  Ice Adventure is a brand new walk-through immersive experience; an ice museum filled with ice sculptures of Robert the Bruce, Dolly the Sheep and many others.  Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar is another new addition with 25 glimpses of Edinburgh winters from year gone-by projected on to Register House, with one being revealed each day.  The famous La Clique is coming back home for Christmas with their international hit La Clique Nöel. Where: Edinburgh When: 17 November 2017-6 January 2018

Glasgow Loves Christmas Glasgow Loves Christmas sees magical events, shopping and festive fun happening in the heart of the city.  Head to the Christmas Market in St Enoch Square, open until 22 December.  The festive offering at George Square will be open daily from 25 November until 29 December.  Enjoy the Style Mile Carnival on 26 November, Baby’s First Christmas on 2 December and the Santa Dash on 10 December. Where: Glasgow When: 9 November 2017 – 14 January 2018

Hogmanay Events

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay
Marking the start of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will celebrate Scotland’s young citizens by giving them the limelight with the fiery finale of the popular Torchlight Procession (30 Dec), sharing with the world their #Scotword. On the night itself, the Street Party will return bigger and better than ever with Concert in the Gardens headlined by Rag ‘n’ Bone Man. Some fantastic new flavours have been added such as Bairns Afore, giving children their midnight moment early on in the evening, Ceilidh under the Castle, and Hogmanay HQ, an exclusive VIP party at Assembly Hall. Where: Edinburgh When: 30 December 2017 – 1 January 2018

Hogmanay in the Honest Toun
The Brunton, Musselburgh, hosts a day filled with fantastic activities for families to celebrate Hogmanay including lantern making, samba drumming, ceilidh swinging, storytelling, puppet theatre, pantomime and an early evening free Lantern Parade with spectacular free Fireworks Display at Fisherrow Links. Visitors can welcome in 2018 with Hogmania!  A family friendly evening ceilidh with live music, dancing, pipers and refreshments. Where: Musselburgh, East Lothian When: 31 December 2017

Hogmanay 2017 with The Revellers
See 2017 out in style with Shetland ‘Folk/Rock Juggernaut’ The Revellers and Friends at Mareel. See out the New Year with some of the best of Shetland’s musical talent, including The Revellers, Arthur Nicolson Band, Vair, Kansa and Hom Bru. Where: Mareel, Shetland When: 31 November 2017 – 1 January 2018 

Stirling’s Hogmanay
Stirling Council will celebrate Scotland’s Winter Festival 2017 by hosting a wide range of events that celebrate modern and traditional Scottish culture. Stirling’s largest ever Hogmanay midnight fireworks display is at the centre of the celebrations.  A time to meet with family and friends and bring in the bells in Stirling style! Where: Stirling When: 31 December 2017

Fire and Light
Illuminate and energize your New Year celebrations with Fire and Light, a walk with a difference.  Get wrapped up with friends and family for a walk to take in the night air and explore some spectacular sights, including the magnificent Kelpies, illuminated and animated for this special occasion. Where: Helix Park, Falkirk When: 1-2 January 2018

Burns Night Events

Big Burns Supper 
Big Burns Supper is Scotland’s landmark Burns Night event which takes place in Dumfries and features a heady mixture of cabaret, comedy, music and entertainment in over 30 different venues as the town goes bonkers for 11 days of winter magic. Where: Dumfries When: 18-28 January 2018

Burns Unbound
With a packed programme of creative activities and performances, bairns and big yins alike will find plenty to enjoy at the day-long celebration of the poetry and legacy of Robert Burns. Wear your favourite tartan, experience live Scottish music, discover some braw Burns poetry and get creative at our craft stations. Where: National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh When: 21 January 2018 

Big Burns Stramash
The Big Burns Stramash 2018 is all about young people; comprising of a variety of different events to suit those from toddlers to those who are very nearly grown-ups, getting the national Year of Young People off to a bang in the Highlands! Where: Inverness When: 25-27 January 2018

Red, Red Rose Street
A festival of Burns’ music and words expanding the traditional Burns Night into a three day long celebration of the work of the world-renowned Scottish Bard. Where: Edinburgh When: 25-28 January 2018

Burns’ Birthday in Mauchline
Burns’ Birthday in Mauchline, organised by East Ayrshire Leisure, invites residents of Ayrshire and visitors to the region to embrace all aspects of traditional and contemporary arts, by offering opportunities for involvement in a celebration of the work of Burns, with particular reference to Mauchline. Where: Mauchline, East Ayrshire When: 27-28 January 2018

Burns Unbroke
Burns Unbroke is a new contemporary multi-arts festival, offering interpretations of the work of Robert Burns. The project‘s innovative visual arts programme features over 30 artists and includes newly commissioned work by four Scottish based artists. The focused programme of events includes an Alternative Burns Night, spoken word performances, children’s performances and a tailor made programme of music. Where: Edinbrugh When: 25 January-10 March 2018

Burns Alicht
Journey this Burns season into Burns Alicht, a unique sparkling birthplace tour in celebration of Scotland’s poet Robert Burns. Discover special illuminations, become enchanted by mischievous sights, sounds and entertainment and delight in landmarks coming alive. Where: South Ayrshire When: 27 January 2018

Perth Riverside Light Nights – Burns Night
Perth’s Riverside Light Nights will tell the story of how Robert Burns started his life as a poor tenant farmer, and through channelling his intellectual energy into poetry became one of the most famous characters of Scotland’s cultural history. With stunning lighting, music, street theatre, dance and folklore the life and work of Robert Burns will be portrayed. Where: Perth When: 27-28 January 2018

See for more detail on Christmas and winter events in Scotland.

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  1. Reply

    Ingrid Sharp

    November 27, 2017

    Hi, I just wanted to add to the list – Up Helly Aa annually on the last Tuesday in January in Shetland. A firey ending to the winter activities!

    • Reply


      November 30, 2017

      It’s fantastic. There’s also the Burning of the Clavie. Perhaps I should add a ‘FIRE!’ section.

  2. Reply

    Travelynn Family

    January 5, 2018

    What a fab list! The Scots sure know how to throw a party! Lovely that so many places welcome little ones too. #culturedkids

    • Reply


      January 6, 2018

      I think we need something to get us through the long winter nights!

  3. Reply


    January 5, 2018

    Stramash – now there’s a word I love! It somehow seems to capture exactly what it describes. We’re scheduled to be heading north in Spring, but now you’ve got me hankering for a visit sooner than that. It sounds as though we’re missing out on all the fun! #CulturedKids

    • Reply


      January 6, 2018

      It is a perfect word isn’t it!

  4. Reply


    January 5, 2018

    I was wracking my brains for a bit trying to work out Burns night. Then I realised it was Robert Burns… because I’m slow like that. I’ve been to Edinburgh during the Fringe and if anything convinced me that Scots love a good party, it was that. I’d love to visit for Hogmany one day, I’ve heard and read such awesome things about it.

    • Reply


      January 6, 2018

      You should! On Hogmanay you can kinda do what you like, as long as you’re having a good time (no pressure!), but I also like the structure of Burns night. It’s still a wild night but there’s more of a formula to it.

  5. Reply

    Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays

    January 6, 2018

    I love haggis maybe we should have a more formal celebration this year or better still head up to Scotland! Thank you for linking up to #CulturedKids

    • Reply


      January 7, 2018

      Please do! You’d love it. An organised Burns Night is always lively, colourful and you nearly die on the dance floor (in a good way!).

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