In addition to the traditional Christmas and New Year events, Scotland offers a wide range of winter festivals to combat the shorter days. Highlights include the annual Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry, as well as illuminations at Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh Zoo and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Aberdeen and Kirkcudbright have their very own Festivals of Light, while Perth's riverside is lit up in February, and Inverness has special plans for 2020 - watch this space.
Northland's Bed and Breakfast has written a Blog about The Enchanted Forest.
Here's our list of some of the spectacular winter festivals and illumination events around Scotland and where you can stay with Scotland's Best B&Bs:
Fire Light: Cosmic Fortunes
2 January 2019, The Helix, Falkirk
A magical and mythical walk around The Helix with an illuminated adventure around the constellations/zodiacs for a family-friendly evening to explore the night sky.
Burning of the Clavie
11 January 2019 Burghead, Moray
Welcome in the "Auld" New Year as old traditions are rekindled at this ancient fire festival in Burghead. This is the original Hogmanay before the calendar changed in 1660. A spectacular event celebrated every year.
Nearby B&B - Brighton House B&B in Nairn
Perth Riverside Light Nights
26 January - 10 February 2019
Perth’s riverside walk with illuminations and themed nights, plus food, drink, and lots of other surprises. It all begins with the Robert Burns Celebration on 26 and 27 January. Free.
Nearby B&Bs - Glebe House near Perth, Northlands Bed and Breakfast in Pitlochry, Brae House by Aberfeldy, Duntrune House near Dundee, Newton Farm by Inverarity.
The Enchanted Forest
3 October - 3 November 2019, Pitlochry, Perthshire
Scotland’s premier light and sound event uses the autumnal splendour of Faskally Wood as a natural backdrop to a glittering and original experience that is simply spectacular. Cosmos is the theme of The Enchanted Forest 2019 - inspired by the natural beauty and vastness of the skies above.
Nearby B&Bs - Northlands Bed and Breakfast in Pitlochry and Brae House by Aberfeldy
Kirkcudbright Festival of Light
10 - 13 October 2019, Dumfries and Galloway,
Arts festival launched in 2018.
23 October - 17 November 2019, Dean Castle Country Park, East Ayrshire
A magical outdoor light event offering a tour of the grounds of the country park with stunning illuminations, installations, sounds and hands on activities. This 1.5km trail is fun for all the family. Food & drink stalls including those important toasted marshmellows.
Nearby B&B - Ayrs and Graces Guest House near Ayr
25 - 31 October 2019
Glasgow Botanic Gardens will be transformed at Halloween in a spectacular sound and light show which was incredibly popular when it was launched in 2018.
Castle of Light
14 November - 22 December 2019, Edinburgh Castle
The biggest light experience Edinburgh has ever hosted, using state of the art projections to create a truly wonderful, immersive and unique lighting experience within the castle’s iconic walls. Tickets will be released in September. The event will take place on the following nights from 5.30pm to 10pm: 14-17, 22, 24, 28-30 November and 1, 5-8, 12-15, 19-22 December 2019.
As spectacular as these light installations can be, nothing can rival the famous Northern Lights (also called the Aurora Borealis). The darker skies of autumn and winter give the best viewing conditions for these colourful merry dancers. The frequency of sightings can depend on sunspot activity which is governed by an 11-year solar cycle. Numerous areas in Scotland have 'Dark Sky' status including Wester Ross in the north-west Highlands and the Galloway Forest in Dumfries & Galloway. The Tomintoul and Glenlivet area of the Cairngorms is the most northerly Dark Sky Park in the world (and the darkest in the UK). Moffat (in Dumfries & Galloway) is a Dark Sky Town thanks to special street lighting. On our web site you can read about Stargazing in Galloway.
While Edinburgh's Hogmanay street party is usually a sell out, did you know that Inverness hosts an annual free party on New Year's Eve called the Red Hot Highland Fling? Among the more unusual celebrations at the turn of the year, the Biggar Bonfire is South Lanarkshire's own New Year celebration, while the Stonehaven Fireballs Ceremony is an ancient tradition in Aberdeenshire, and the Comrie Flambeaux is a unique torchlit procession in Perthshire.