Scotland’s Loch Ness and Inverness are set to host a packed programme of events for visitors throughout the spring and summer months this year, including music festivals and Highland Games.
Music fans will flock to the region’s two established music festivals to enjoy exclusive performances in some of the country’s most stunning surroundings.
In June festival-goers gather on the very shores of Loch Ness itself for the popular Rock Ness event. This three day festival (8th-10th June) features headline performances from talents such as double Brit Award-winner Ed Sheeran, indie folk favourites Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale, and Scotland’s own Biffy Clyro. The 3rd August sees the start of the three-day Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival in a beautiful setting just outside Beauly. This family-friendly and eco-conscious event also attracts true talent, with headliners in recent years including Texas, Ocean Colour Scene and Scouting for Girls.
There are also a number of events for the Blas festival – a celebration of Gaelic and Highland music – that runs across the region from 7th-15th September.Blas highlights for 2012 include al fresco entertainment on the waters of Loch Ness with a floating performance by traditional musicians Allan MacDonald and Friends, music on the Mountain at Cairngorm’s Ptarmigan Restaurant, and an exciting array of events at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness on the banks of the River Ness.
And the traditional theme continues in October when Blazin’ in Beauly (15th-19th October) brings together fiddlers from across the country and further afield for five days of classes, concerts, ceilidhs and craic in the heart of the Highlands.
Visitors looking to discover even more of the region’s history and heritage can take advantage of a selection of other events over the summer season all offering an insight into the a really authentic identity – from Highland Games and Piping shows, to world-class sporting competitions or showcases of the area’s finest exports.
Highland Games and Gatherings
Kilts and cabers are the order of the day on 21st July, when the city of Inverness plays host to the largest of the area’s numerous Highland Games events.
The games showcase such Highland arts as Highland dancing and traditional music, alongside the special sporting disciplines that have become synonymous with this area of Scotland.
The games coincide with the Highland capital’s Armed Forces Day, so spectators can also enjoy performances by the military pipes and drums that typify the region’s military traditions.
Other local areas holding their own Highland Gatherings and Games, showcasing such traditional disciplines as caber tossing and hammer throwing, include Abriachan on 6th July, Glengarry on 7th July and the Loch Ness-side community of Glenurquhart on 25th August.
If your sporting tastes are a little more traditional, the month of July sees the arrival of the Scottish Open (12th-15th July), with Castle Stuart Golf Links continuing its hosting duties for the event.
Set on the shores of the Moray Firth, just a short drive from the city of Inverness, the Open offers fans the opportunity to witness top level golf in a spectacular setting, with panoramic coastal views and the opportunity to spot some of the region’s resident dolphins, before heading off to sample some of the other stunning local courses open to enthusiasts, from Nairn to Dornoch.
If all this gives you an appetite, then there are a range of events showcasing the finest local foodstuffs. Inverness hosts regular famers’ markets throughout the summer months, and in September ale drinkers are drawn to Drumnadrochit for the annual Loch Ness Beer Festival (14th-22nd September), held at the Benleva Hotel and showcasing the finest Scottish brews, as well as guest appearances from ales from other areas.
And getting the season off to an upbeat and humourous start, next month sees Inverness play host to a new comedy festival – Happyness (23rd-28th May).
The inaugural festival presents comedy of all kinds, from slapstick to stand up, and features world-renowned comedy stars as well as newcomers, break-through acts and Gaelic talent. Well-known faces include Ardal O’Hanlon, Bill Bailey, Dylan Moran and Scotland’s own Fred MacAulay.