The Cairngorms National Park is a natural when it comes to festivals, hosting an abundance of events that cater for all tastes and interests. Surrounded by inspiring, breath-taking scenery, it is an ideal setting for festivals that celebrate the great outdoors. Add to the mix, culture and heritage, and you have the makings of a festival calendar jam-packed with great experiences. Here is just a taster:
With a backdrop of hills and peaks, it is to be expected that mountains feature on the festival line-up. Groove CairnGorm, the UK’s first resort based snowsports festival, with a unique blend of snowsports and electronic dance music, welcomed thousands to the Aviemore area in February.
This month, Braemar Mountain Festival (3-5 March) promises to be a real celebration of the mountain environment. You can expect stimulating talks from writers and filmmakers; art and photography exhibitions and workshops as well as practical sessions on the ground or on the snow. Test your navigation skills, try ski touring or perhaps cross-country. The next week (9-12 March), Aviemore Adventure Festival presents a diverse programme of outdoor activities, workshops and taster sessions. Enjoy action packed film screenings and inspiring lectures, delivered by enthusiastic modern day adventurers and explorers.
For exploring on foot, there is a fantastic range of walking festivals across the Park. Organised walks and activities cater for all ages and abilities; gentle, easy, low-level, paths; routes for the more experienced walker and strenuous hikes that take in some of the UK’s highest peaks. Lasting from a few days to a week or longer, these festivals are ideal for a walking holiday amidst amazing scenery. Walks are accompanied by rangers, estate managers or ecologists who share their knowledge of local history and wildlife. Explore the hills and glens of Royal Deeside with the Ballater Walking Festival, held each May. Or savour the striking mountains and glens of Badenoch at the Badenoch Walking Festival. Encounter spectacular glens and wonderful coastal views as part of the Angus Glens Walking Festival (1-4 June) and for pure midsummer magic, the Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival (16-25 June) will steer you along the Moray Way and through surrounding towns and villages.
Read some ideas for guided walks here.
Nature, Recreation & Sport
The Park’s outstanding wildlife and scenery takes centre stage at the Cairngorms Nature BIG Weekend (13-14 May). Family activities and specialist nature trips embrace a diverse programme of events – many of which are free. With miles of family orientated trails as well as invigorating mountain bike descents, cycling is one of the Park’s most popular activities. The Kingussie Bikeathon and Bikefest Scotland (25 June) is a 24-mile family friendly cycle event for everyone – which also raises funds for charity. Put the date in your diary now! Keen on orienteering? The 21st Scottish 6-days Orienteering international festival comes to Royal Deeside (30 July- 5 August) taking advantage of the variety of terrain and stunning views.
Music, Arts & Entertainment
A longstanding festival of music, dance, speech and drama takes place in venues in Kingussie and surrounding area. The 60th Badenoch & Strathspey Music Festival (13-22 March) is firmly engrained in the creative arts calendar and is acknowledged for encouraging participation and promoting these art forms. The Cairngorms Cèilidh Trail offers performance opportunities to young musicians, aged 16 to 22yrs, who share their skills and passion with appreciative audiences and are credited with helping to develop cultural tourism throughout the Park. 2017 auditions were held locally in February and we look forward to enjoying the musical talent of this year’s intake. Ceilidh Collective, a community music initiative launched in 2016 comprises six musical weekends of workshops, sessions and ceilidhs featuring the finest local musicians. Catch the last of the series, this March, in Ballater.
Head to Royal Deeside thissummer for Ballater Victoria Week (4 – 13 August). Ten days of fun filled activities attract crowds to this popular annual festival. 2017 will be the event’s 30th anniversary so expect something even more special this year. Embracing arts, crafts, drama, literature and music, the autumn Braemar Arts Festival (18-22 October) celebrates the creative arts with workshops and a Festival Fringe, featuring great eveningevents.
Food, Drink & Whisky
Whether you enjoy the occasional malt or are a true whisky aficionado, you will appreciate the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival (27 April – 1 May). Now in its 18th year, the festival has developed into one of the largest events of its kind anywhere in the world. Over 500 whisky inspired events are organised in distilleries, bars, halls and more unusual settings, to the delight of locals and visitors alike.
Food & Fiddle Fortnight is an October extravaganza of fantastic food and drink accompanied by live music. There’s lots to sample; cookery classes, food demos, farmers’ market and fiddle workshops. Now that’s a winning formula!
Whatever the festival, you can count on a unique and memorable experience.
Please visit our events page for online listings or check the respective festival websites and social media for updates.