Spring has arrived, the weather is at last showing signs of improvement, the festival and event season is well under way now across the country and that means there is a packed itinerary of exciting things to see and do. Here’s what’s coming up this month.
Gintyre – A Festival of Scottish Gin
This inaugural event is being held at Campbeltown Town Hall from the 20th to the 22nd of April. In collaboration with local gin producers, Beinn an Tuirc Distillers and Explore Campbeltown, the festival aims to bring the attractions of Kintyre and the surrounding area to a wider audience.
So Many Gins, So Little Time!
Did you know that gin has been produced since the early 17th century and was originally used for medicinal purposes? Early versions were slightly unpalatable, so it was the Dutch who first started to flavour their gin with juniper. Whether you take your tipple for medicinal purposes or not, modern versions now come in a variety of exotic flavours such as the citrus flavours of Lussa gin or the spicier taste of Raj gin, just two of the vast array of gins on offer from Scotland’s finest distilleries. In fact, there are almost as many gins, with as many different tastes, as there are Scottish islands so come along and try a few whilst enjoying the party which includes music from one of Scotland’s leading jazz bands in the Rose Room at the Town Hall. There are also several fringe events happening throughout. There is a tasting session at Cadenheads or the Kintyre Gin Tour at Torrisdale Castle Estate. After all that you may just want to relax by watching a special one-off showing of the classic movie Casablanca – what else - at the Campbeltown Picture House.
Make a long weekend of it by staying in one of the many quality local B & Bs or hotels and take your time to explore the local area. Glasgow to Campbeltown is around a 4-hour journey and there is a comprehensive daily bus service if you prefer to leave the car behind.
For more information see here.
The Scottish Grand National Festival
The weekend of 20th – 21st April sees the premier event of the Scottish horse racing calendar, the Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse. The two-day event featuring 15 races sees the very best of the horse racing world come together for one of the most spectacular racing festivals in the world. And if that isn’t enough there is live entertainment on both days, virtually all day. 80s tribute band Splash will perform in the Grandstand after the racing while party band The Brightside will keep punters dancing in the PR Suite. If you prefer your music distinctly Scottish don’t miss Drums N Roses playing at the front entrance to the venue. From jazz to swing, circus performers to a classical harpist and of course, Ladies Day, and more besides it promises to be a weekend to remember.
There is of course a dress code to be observed, including on Ladies Day and for guidance click on this link. Ayr Racecourse is only 37 miles from Glasgow and 83 miles from Edinburgh so transport links from all parts of Scotland are excellent. For further information see their site. For those planning to make a weekend of it there are many hotels and B & Bs large and small near the racecourse plus the luxury 4-star Western House Hotel situated within the racecourse itself.
With a brand new £100,000 Novice Chase added to the Festival for this year the Scottish Grand National is going to be more exciting than ever especially for those among us who like a bit of a flutter.
The Etape Loch Ness Cycle Sportive
Cycling has gone through a massive surge in popularity in recent years not only because the health benefits are being realised by more and more of us, but it is also down to the recent staging of the Tour de France and other top cycling events throughout the UK. On April 29th this year you will have the chance to take part in Scotland’s best fun cycling event or simply watch and encourage the riders as they whizz by.
Although this is strictly a non-competitive ride aiming to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support the race itself stretches for 66 miles from the riverside at Bught Park, Inverness, taking a circular route by Fort Augustus then back to Inverness via South Loch Ness. There will be a timed ‘King of the Mountain’ stage incorporating a fairly difficult 4.8-mile climb so the race is not necessarily for those who have just climbed onto a bike for the first time that morning! To plan your best viewing point you can see full details of the route here.
Loch Ness is one of the most famous visitor attractions in the world with those seeking an answer to the eternal mystery of the Loch Ness Monster. The Scottish Highlands offer so much more than Nessie though with glorious scenery, outdoor activities like cycle and hiking trails, an abundance of history, loch cruises to enjoy and of course warm Scottish hospitality.
Inverness itself with its shopping, eating and visitor attractions offers visitors a wealth of accommodation and a huge variety of accommodation types. There are many hotels and B & Bs but if you’re looking for something a little different you could experience the unique Hotel Boat or perhaps have a night or two in the Belltower, a converted church on the banks of River Ness. If you are planning to stay in the area during the Etape Loch Ness event, make sure you book your accommodation in good time as this event will attract many thousands of visitors.Whichever event you decide to visit in Scotland this month you can be assured of a warm welcome, good food and drink and an experience to remember.