Scotland in winter is cold and crisp, but incredibly beautiful and the Scottish are very welcoming. St Andrew’s Day on November 30th marked the beginning of Christmas season in Scotland: Christmas markets, full of colorful handmade food and gifts have sprung up in every city and town. The first snow has fallen and the pistes are open in the highlands. For such ski adventures, visit NevisRange, Cairngorm or Glencoe area. Although Scotland is not as popular a ski destination as mainland Europe, it benefits from quiet slopes and more space for snow enthusiasts to play around in.
Apart from these entertainments, Scotland’s mountains with their beautiful glens and lochs have much to offer to the adventurous tourists even in the chilliest days of the year. Take a look at the crisp landscapes of this country to enjoy its winter spirit. However, in order to be able to take a full pleasure from your stay in this country and celebrate the New Year Eve here, just prepare for your trip and accommodation in advance.
You have a great chance to combine urban indulgence with coastal walks in North Berwick, which is just half an hour from Scottish capital, Edinburgh. Its highlight is Scottish Seabird Centre for information on bird watching in the area. The neighboring Bass Rock is a home of the largest colony of single-rock gannets that nest here in January. Visit the famous Lochs, and try to find the Loch Ness Monster. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs are beautiful in winter, with the sun peeking out from behind Ben Lomond Mountain.
It is easy to pretend you are a king or a queen in one of the numerous Scottish castles, as many of them offer accommodation. Larger castles, like Edinburgh and Stirling Castle are great to see in winter as there are less visitors and guided tours are included in the admission fee. Many smaller castles have been converted into hotels and are a popular choice for tourists wanting an authentic Scottish feel. Although be warned, many of these castles claim to be haunted and guests have been known to flee in the night.
Scotland is a perfect destination for people who love outdoor winter activities and hiking. Low-level walks are available round the year, like in the Cairngorms, or around the BlairCastle and Cathedral City of Dunkeld. The fans of mountaineering will also be pleased with the fantastic options available here for climbers. Scottish hills are considered a perfect place for climbing during the winter but can be treacherous for inexperienced hikers. Consider hiring a guide and at the very least, plan out a route and inform someone of your plans. Unexpected weather can catch hikers off-guard
If you happen to be in Scotland over the New Year period, it is compulsory to partake in the celebrations, known as Hogmanay. Rent a tartan kilt and join in with the locals in dancing the highland fling and take a drink of whisky as the bells ring for a prosperous New Year. A Piper playing Auld Lang Sang on the bagpipes will ring in the New Year and say a traditional Scottish toast while guests join hands and form a circle. If you know the words to the famous Robert Burns Auld Lang Sang, then join in and sing along. Do not be insulted if someone hands you a lump of coal as a present; it is a custom to ensure warmth in your home the coming year!
A guid New Year to ane an’ a’ and mony may ye see
(A good New Year to one and all, and many may you see)