Exploring the Best of the Scottish Highlands: A Guide to Adventure, Culture, and Festivals

The Scottish Highlands is one of the UK’s best-kept secrets with its unspoilt landscapes, pristine coastline amazing wildlife and superb annual events and festivals.

If you’ve never visited the region, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at all the Highlands has to offer you. For the adventurer, there are some enthralling activities that take place throughout the year.

For the culture seeker, the Highlands is steeped in historical marvels and artistic wonders. For the music lover, there’s a great choice of festivals and for film lovers, it doesn’t get much better than the Birks Cinema Film Festival.

If you’re a nature lover, the Highlands is the place to be, and for those who enjoy watching top-class riders compete in one of the most testing events, there’s the Blair Castle International Horse Trials to keep you enthralled.

There is something for everyone in the Highlands and we’ve listed some of the best of them here! 

Scotland events 2023-24

May 14th May The Etape Caledonia

28th May The Atholl Gathering

12th – 21st May The Cairngorms Nature Festival

June 22nd – 25th June The Royal Highland Show
July 1st April to October Highland Folk Museum Open-Air Concerts
August 4th – 28th Aug The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

11th Aug The Otherland Festival

29th Aug Crieff Highland Gathering

19th Aug Kinloch Rannoch Highland Games

24th – 27th Aug Blair Castle International Horse Trials

September 2nd Sept Loch Lomond Food & Drink Festival
October 1st Oct The Loch Ness Marathon

5th Oct – 5th Nov The Enchanted Forest

November 30th Nov St. Andrew’s Day Celebrations
December 24th Nov 2023 – 1st Jan 2024 Edinburgh’s Christmas Market

25th Dec Christmas (Highland Christmas Celebration)

31st Dec Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve Celebration)

January 25th Jan 2024 Burns Night


March 2024 Inverness Music Festival

March 2024 Perthshire Amber: The Dougie MacLean Festival

April 11th May 2024 Birks Cinema Film Festival

In the month of May

The Etape Caledonia

The Etape Caledonia

Ticket Price – From £45
Parking Please note that parking is available on a first come, first served basis.

This superb event takes place in the Highlands on 14th May (Sunday). It’s a sell-out closed-road cycling event that attracts thousands of people every year. Cyclists get to travel through some of the most spectacular and testing Perthshire landscapes.

It’s an 85-mile route that sets out and finishes in Pitlochry. But there are twists and turns as well as alternative shorter routes too. All of these provide ideal training that attracts club cyclists from all over the country and abroad.

There’s a wonderful festival feel to the event where you’ll enjoy local produce and live music.

Want more info? Then check out how to enter by visiting etapecaledonia.co.uk or if you prefer you can send the organisers an email at etape@limelightsports.com

The Atholl Gathering

The Atholl Gathering

Parking – Free
Ticket Price:

  • Highland Gathering Senior (60+) £5.00
  • Highland Gathering Adult (16+) £9.00
  • Highland Gathering Child (5-15) £4.50 

Another great event that takes place at Blair Castle on the 28th of May 2023, the Atholl Gathering is not to be missed!

The Highland Games are officially opened by the Atholl Highlanders with their ‘March On’ to the sound of pipes and drums. This is followed by events that include tossing the caber, throwing the hammer and putting the shot.

Visitors get to enjoy many other attractions which include solo piping and Highland dancing. There are plenty of trade stands and lots of refreshments that ensure a great family day out.

What to find out more? Then why not visit the organiser’s website today! 

The Cairngorms Nature Festival

The Cairngorms Nature Festival

Ticket – Free Event

Formerly called the BIG Weekend, the Cairngorms Nature Festival is an event that runs from the 12th of May to the 21st of May 2023.

There are more than 80 events that allow you to experience the sheer beauty of the region and the National Park!

To see this year’s events and book your places check out this link. 

In the month of June

The Royal Highland Show

Ticket Price – From £35
Children – Free
Parking – From £15

The Royal Highland Show runs from 22nd June to 25th June 2023 and it is a not-to-be-missed annual event where you get to savour traditional Scottish fare and the wonders of farming and rural life. It’s a great event full of activities that will keep the whole family entertained.

The event takes place at Ingliston in Edinburgh and it’s massive with lots of things to see and do. Plus, the event is child and dog friendly!

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website! 

In the months of July/August

Highland Folk Museum Open-Air Concerts 

Ticket – Admission Free, but donations are welcome
Parking – From £2

These truly wonderful events celebrate 300 years of Scottish history with working crofts and farm animals. There’s even a tin Highland School! It’s a fabulous event that all the family can enjoy in a stunning location!

There’s a café, wheelchair access to toilets and Audio Visual.

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website! 

In the month of August

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Ticket Cost – Free
Nearby Parking – from £15

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival runs from 04 – 28 August 2023 and it’s another not-to-be-missed Scottish event like no other!

You’ll enjoy an explosion of creativity from artists and performers from all over the globe. Fortunately, the event lasts long enough for you to take in everything that’s on offer in Scotland’s historic capital.
Want to know more? Then check out the organiser’s website.

The Otherland Festival

The Otherland Festival

Weekend Camping Ticket – $217.33/pp Full weekend with camping – No Re-entry
Parking – $25.72 (Full Weekend car parking pass)

The Otherland Festival runs from 11th August to 13th August 2023 and is held at the superb Scone Palace in Perth.

There are more than 60 international acts paired with local emerging talent to enjoy at the festival. Plus, there’s mouth-wateringly good street food to savour! You can also enjoy boutique camping in the glorious grounds of the palace which makes the event extra special.

Want to find out more? Then visit the organiser’s website! 

Crieff Highland Gathering

Crieff Highland Gathering

Ticket Charges:

  • CHG Adult Entry – ؚ£15
  • CHG Child Entry (Under 18) – £7.50
  • CHG Child (Under 5) – Free

Parking – Ample parking is available some 400yards away in the Braidhaugh Playing fields

Held on 20th August 2023, the Crieff Highland Gathering takes place in the centre of Crieff where traditional Highland games and competitions will keep you enthralled right through to the Massed Pipe Band’s finale!

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website. 

Kinloch Rannoch Highland Games

Kinloch Rannoch Highland Games


  • Adults – £5
  • Children – £3
  • Family (2 adults + 2 kids) – £12

Parking – £1

Held on the third Saturday in the month of August in Kinloch Rannoch, these Highland games are a fun family day out. There’s tossing the caber and Highland dancing with stands selling local produce whose proceeds help support local charities!

It’s a great family day out with a barbecue and lots of traditional fun!

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website. 

Blair Castle International Horse Trials

Blair Castle International Horse Trials


  • Season Membership: £165
  • Weekend Membership: £120
  • Thursday Membership: £35
  • Friday Membership: £35


  • Season Car Pass – £20
  • Weekend Car Pass – £12
  • Weekday or Weekend Car Pass from £7

The Blair Castle International Horse Trials are Scotland’s leading equestrian event. From top-class eventing to Pony Club games that take place over four days, it’s a wonderful time to witness an equestrian event in a stunning location.

The trials run from 24th-27th August 2023 with everything you need to make it an extra special time in Scotland.

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website. 

In the month of September

Loch Lomond Food & Drink Festival

Loch Lomond Food & Drink Festival

Ticket – Free
Parking – Free

You’ll enjoy a wonderful mix of local produce and drinks at the Loch Lomond Food & Drink Festival. It all happens on the 2nd of September 2023 and it’s a fabulous family day out with workshops, chef demonstrations and craft stalls set up in the stunning location that’s Loch Lomond!

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website.

In the months of October/November

The Loch Ness Marathon

The Loch Ness Marathon

Price: From £54.00 (Age 18+)
Parking – Parking is available at the public car parks, parking charges may apply.

The Loch Ness marathon takes place on 1st October 2023 and it has to be one of the marathons that takes place in the most spectacular Scottish location. The landscapes are out of this world whether you’re taking part or just there to give your support!

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website. 

The Enchanted Forest



  • Child Under 3: FREE
  • Child 3 – 15: £13.50
  • Adult: £24
  • Family Ticket: £67.50


  • Private Car Parking £2
  • Blair Athol Distillery Car Park is Free to visitors

The Enchanted Forest is literally a ‘wonder’ to behold that runs from 5th October – 5th November 2023.

All set against the amazing backdrop of Faskally Wood, it’s an event that will take your breath away! It’s a superb event that all the family can really enjoy in an enchanting location that’s only found in Scotland.

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website. 

In the month of November

St. Andrew’s Day Celebrations

St. Andrew's Day Celebrations

Ticket – £30

St. Andrew’s Day is a big event in Scotland. It’s when every Scot and visitor takes celebrating to a whole new level as they all join in celebrating the patron saint of Scotland!

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website. 

In the months of November/December

Edinburgh’s Christmas Market

Edinburgh's Christmas Market

Ticket – Free
Parking – There is no event parking or parking nearby for Edinburgh Christmas market unfortunately

Edinburgh’s Christmas Market runs from 24th November 2023 to 1st January 2024, and if you’re looking for something exceptional, it’s the place to be. There’s traditional Christmas fare, lots of local produce and naturally some of the best beers and malt whisky that Scotland has to offer!

Want to find out more? Then check out the website. 

Christmas (Highland Christmas Celebration)

Christmas (Highland Christmas Celebration)Christmas in the Highlands is a time to celebrate the new and the traditional! From burning a rowan twig to naming the first person to arrive on Christmas Day, a tradition known as the ‘first-footer’. Spending Christmas in the Scottish Highlands makes exceptional memories that’ll last you and your loved ones a lifetime! 

Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve Celebration)

Hogmanay (New Year's Eve Celebration)

Nowhere in the world is New Year’s Eve celebrated like they do in Scotland. It’s a time of merriment mixed with tradition when everyone comes together to celebrate Hogmanay and the coming of the New Year!

There are so many events scheduled throughout the Highlands that you’ll be spoilt for choice. But one thing that you can rely on is that fun will be had by all on Hogmanay! 

In the month of January

Burns Night

Burns Night

Celebrating Robert Burns is an annual tradition that every Scot and visitor can enjoy to the max. Burns Night happens on 25th January each and every year and it’s when Scotland’s National Bard is remembered for his storytelling and so much more! 

In the month of March

Inverness Music Festival

Inverness Music Festival

Admission Cost – Free

The motto for the Inverness Music Festival is ‘Performance for Everyone’ and it’s a great event the whole family can enjoy!

There’s a superb choice of things to do and see at the Inverness Music Festival which is why it’s become a firm favourite on the Scottish event calendar. 

Perthshire Amber: The Dougie MacLean Festival

Ticket Price – £25

Known as being a ‘jewel of a festival’, the Dougie Maclean Festival is renowned for the vision and imagination that’s conjured up during the 10 days it’s held.

It all takes place in stunning scenery that’ll have you mesmerised with its sight and sound sensations.

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website. 

In the month of April/May

Birks Cinema Film Festival 

The Birks Cinema Film Festival is an event that attracts thousands of movie lovers from all over the globe with over 300 films screened annually! It’s a great place to view firm favourites and new releases with fellow movie buffs.

There’s a café bar and a mezzanine level that’s perfect for meet-ups! There’s even a Lego animation club!

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website. 

Events that take place at various times of the year

Pitlochry Festival Theatre (Various dates)

Ticket – From £16
Parking – Free

There’s so much to see and do at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre with musicals, revivals and so much more. From fun family days out to savouring a tipple or two, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on the Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s calendar.

Want to find out more? Then check out the organiser’s website. 

Aberfeldy Festival (Various dates)

Aberfeldy Festival

The Aberfeldy Festival takes place every year at Aberfeldy Town Square and lasts a November weekend. There’s a Poetry Workshop, storytelling, market stalls and so much more!

Want to find out more? Then check out this website.

Lastly, there’s so much to see and do in the Scottish Highlands that it makes it easy to find a fun family day out. Or maybe you’re looking to spend a few days in this glorious region of the country? In which case, finding the right accommodation is a must!

At Dunalastair Hotel Suites, we provide 5-star comfort and luxury in a glorious setting that’s central to many of the events that take place throughout the year.

It’s the perfect base for a short holiday in the Highlands or a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of city life. If you’re looking for a place to stay that’s got everything to make your time in the Highlands an exceptional experience, Dunalastair Hotel Suites offers just what you’ll need to recharge.

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