Simply put, we all love Scotland. Here are 27 reasons why you shouldn’t let the cold put you off in 2016.


  1. The Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design 2016

Building on the success of previous themed years such as Homecoming Scotland 2014 and the Year of Food and Drink in 2015, the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design will celebrate the richness of Scotland’s much-loved heritage, culture and environment, alongside the contemporary and cutting edge designs of today. From textiles to technology, architecture to fashion and design, the year-long programme will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s greatest assets and icons, as well as some of the nation’s unique hidden gems. So look out for the first ever Festival of Architecture 2016, which will offer a Scotland-wide programme of events and the reopening of St. Peter’s Seminary in March, the 50th anniversary of the opening of a building, which has been described as Scotland’s most significant modernist building and was left abandoned in 1980.


  1. Smugglers Trail

This new trail is set to launch along the Berwickshire Coastal Path. As a result of research conducted by historian/curator Derek Janes, more is now known about incidents that took place along this coastline that really represent how rife smuggling was in this part of Scotland. The route will interpret smuggling stories along the way, and will stop at various viewpoints where known incidents took place. Gunsgreen House will be at the centre of this trail, and displays are currently being upgraded to show more of the Smugglers’ Trail stories.


  1. New Cairngorms ‘Scenic Route

Set to be launched in 2016 this is an outstanding scenic route along the eastern side of the Cairngorms National Park, from Glenshee to Grantown-on-Spey. The trail will feature an installation by a young recently qualified architect to enhance the route, following a nationwide competition to find the winning designer. Combining stunning Scottish design alongside the outstanding natural beauty of the Cairngorms the new route will encourage more people to experience and enjoy the breath-taking landscapes of the Cairngorms.


  1. Historic Scotland’s Conservation Centre, The Engine Shed, Stirling

The Engine Shed is an ambitious project to create Scotland’s first dedicated building conservation centre. It will be open to the public with family friendly activities, craft demonstrations and training courses to entertain and challenge.


  1. National Museum of Flight in East Lothian

Set to open in Spring 2016 following a £3.6 million refurbishment, you’ll see two restored nationally significant Second World War hangars at the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune, featuring vibrant exhibitions within them. The National Museum of Flight is located on the UK’s best-preserved Second World War airfield and is home to one of the best aviation collections in Europe. Visitors to the museum can explore the history of aviation from the First World War to the present day.


6. Pitlochy Dam Visitor Centre

A new state-of-the-art £4m visitor centre with 60 seat café, retail area, and a multi-space area for educational use, will open in September 2016 at Pitlochry dam to showcase the role of the engineers and builders who first brought hydropower to Scotland back in 1951. Visitors will also discover the secrets of the incredible annual journey made by salmon on their return to their native Perthshire rivers to spawn.


  1. Falkirk Distillery

If you like your whisky a visit to this brand new distillery is for you offering a facility housing a world class leading retail, restaurant and business complex.


  1. Wilderness Scotland

Wilderness Scotland have a range of new self-drive tours along impossibly quiet roads through some of the most stunning scenery Scotland has to offer. The new tours include the North Coast 500, Scotland’s answer to Route 66, luxury adventure in Skye and the North West Highlands, as well as Edinburgh to Highland Perthshire.


  1. Celts: art and identity

10 March – 25 September sees the National Museum Scotland host this stunning exhibition telling the story of the different peoples who have used or been given the name ‘Celts’ through the stunning art objects that they made, including intricately decorated jewellery, highly stylised objects of religious devotion, and the decorative arts of the late 19th century which were inspired by the past. Organised with the British Museum, this is the first major British exhibition in 40 years to tell the story of the Celts. It will showcase stunning and rare artworks lent from 16 UK institutions and ten international lenders.


  1. Dark Sky Rangers

The Dark Sky Park in Galloway, which became the UK’s first Dark Sky Park in the UK in 2009, has recently trained four Biosphere Dark Sky Rangers to communicate about the wonders of the night sky and the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere. The self-employed Biosphere Dark Sky Rangers have a variety of skills and specialisms and will run events and tailor-make experiences for visitors. If you like your astronomy you know where to go.


  1. The Roxburghe Estates

A visit to the Roxburghe Estates is a must for anyway interested in gardens. It’s investing in new garden features in their famous Victorian kitchen garden to create Scotland’s finest walled garden experience. Access to new areas of the garden will be provided including some of the wonderful greenhouses producing soft fruit and spectacular houseplants. Plants such as streptocarpus are grown under glass and displayed at Floors Castle and always provide a beautiful show of colour.


  1. The Flying Scotsman locomotive


One of the most famous trains in the world returns to Scotland in May for the first time in 16 years after a major restoration. The train will run from York to Edinburgh and then travel over the World Heritage Site at The Forth Bridge as part of a four-day tour from 14-17 May.


  1. The Scottish Poetry Library

There’s no excuse not to visit the Scottish Poetry Library, which reopened in October 2015 following an extensive renovation. At a time when libraries are seen to be under threat, the Scottish Poetry Library has taken the characteristically bold step of expanding its space and facilities. It now features more space for books, with over 45,000 items, the SPL holds the largest open-access collection of Scottish poetry in the world, together with work by international writers; a new, soundproofed space so that sound and silence can co-exist in the Library; a space for recording as poetry is spoken as well as written; more places to work and read comfortably including more armchairs, a sofa in a child-friendly area, plus a terrace for events, conversation and reading outdoors.


  1. Augmented Reality app

Glasgow’s Art Scene is being brought to life for the Turner Prize by an augmented reality app – art venues across Glasgow are offering an interactive touring experience that lets anyone access the hidden story of artworks through their smartphone via an app called the “Visual Arts Glasgow Tour”. The tour lets users access the story of an artwork, in the form of a 60 second video, simply by pointing their phone at select artwork in the five participating venues.  The interactive tour will run until 17 January to coincide with the 3-month Turner Prize Exhibition Period in Glasgow. Venues where you can enjoy the ActivCanvas experience include: The Hunterian, Glasgow School of Art, the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Street Level Photoworks, and Glasgow Print Studios. Pick up ActivCanvas enabled postcards with more details at each of the participating venues.


  1. 20th Anniversary of the ‘birth’ of Dolly the Sheep

Dolly (5 July 1996 – 14 February 2003) was a female domestic sheep, and the first animal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell, using the process of nuclear transfer. She was cloned by Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell and colleagues at the Roslin Institute, part of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the biotechnology company PPL Therapeutics, based near Edinburgh. And during summer 2016 you’ll be able to go and see Dolly the Sheep at the National Museum of Scotland


  1. 20th anniversary of the Coronation Stone of Scone being returned to Scotland

The rough-hewn block of gray sandstone was the coronation seat of Scottish kings until it was carried away as war booty by King Edward I in 1296. In 1996, the British Conservative Government decided that the Stone should be kept in Scotland when not in use at coronations. On 3 July 1996, it was announced in the House of Commons that the Stone would be returned to Scotland, and on 15 November 1996, after a handover ceremony at the border between representatives of the Home Office and of the Scottish Office, it was transported to Edinburgh Castle. Go see it!


  1. 150th anniversary of the National Museum of Scotland

Currently a £14.1 million project is ongoing to create ten new galleries showcasing over 3,000 objects from National Museums Scotland’s internationally significant collections of science and technology, decorative art, design and fashion. Display space for these exhibits is set to increase by over 40%, with three-quarters of them not having previously been on permanent display for generations. The new galleries will open in summer 2016, in the 150th anniversary year of the opening of the outstanding Victorian building in 1866. Exhibits will range from Dolly the Sheep to a Picasso glass sculpture, a 2.5-tonne copper cavity from CERN to shoes by Alexander McQueen and from Charles Rennie Mackintosh furniture to the prototype for the MRI scanner.


  1. The Queen’s 90th birthday

Head to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh to celebrate the Queen’s 90th year which is planning a series of exciting events to celebrate in April 2016.


  1. Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe

Check out three special exhibitions being held in celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday staged across each of Her Majesty’s official residences during 2016. Constituting the largest display of The Queen’s outfits ever mounted, they will open at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh for Her Majesty’s birthday on 21 April 2016, at the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace in August 2016 and at Windsor Castle in September 2016. The exhibition at the Palace of Holyroodhouse will highlight the use of tartan in royal dress.


  1. 40th anniversary of St Magnus International Festival

One of the best known arts festivals in the world is hosting an extended 10 day festival in celebration from 17 – 26 June featuring newly commissioned music, poetry and sculpture. It takes place over midsummer each year in Orkney, when audiences enjoy broad daylight when leaving events at 11pm at night. Venues include one of Scotland’s finest medieval, working Cathedrals, St Magnus in Kirkwall, and interesting historic venues such as the Italian Chapel build by Italian Prisoners of War and new for 2016, the Ness Battery, overlooking Stromness out to sea.


  1. Glasgow International: Festival of Visual Art

This major biennial festival of visual art will be the first in the city since hosting the Turner Prize in late 2015. Offering more exhibitions and events than ever, Glasgow International will show works by Glasgow-based artists in renowned museum and gallery spaces, off-site spaces, and other cultural organisations.


  1. Celtic Connections

2,500 musicians from around the world gather in Glasgow for 18 days (15 – 31 January) of concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, workshops, free events, late night sessions and a host of special one-off musical collaborations. The Opening Concert will be celebrating 50 years of the Traditional Music & Song Association of Scotland with musical director Siobhan Miller at the helm.


  1. Cupar Arts Festival

Returning after three years off and running from 18 – 25 June 2016 this cutting edge curated exhibition provides contemporary art in a rural setting. Making the most of the market town of Cupar’s public buildings and outdoor spaces, the series of free exhibitions and art works is well worth a visit.


  1. Scottish Design Expo at Edinburgh Airport

As part of the official programme for Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Design and Architecture 2016, Scottish Design Expo at Edinburgh Airport is a pop-up design exhibition that will celebrate and showcase the excellence of Scottish design through a world-class display and intrinsically embedded events line-up. EXPO will be located in Edinburgh Airport’s new plaza, which links the tram system to the arrivals hall. The Scottish Design EXPO and accompanying design events programme will take place during the 2016 EIF making it accessible to an unprecedented audience.


  1. Weekend celebration of Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design at The National Wallace Monument

This weekend of themed events runs from 24 – 26 June 2016 and will be hosted by the Victorian masterpiece, The National Wallace Monument. 24 June also marks the 155th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone for the Monument. During the event visitors will be able to experience the excitement of 1861 as Scotland starts to build a monument to commemorate William Wallace and the design of architect J. T. Rochead becomes a reality. Costumed actors will depict Charles Rogers and William Burns the men responsible for building the Monument in a new live performance.


  1. The Battle of Stirling Bridge at The National Wallace Monument

Visit the monument on 10 and 11 September to commemorate Wallace’s greatest victory. Be prepared as the atmosphere of 1297 will be recreated with medieval weaponry displays, live performances and themed events.


  1. St Kilda Yacht Race

The first ever St Kilda Challenge yacht race will take place Thursday to Saturday, 9-11 June 2016. The fleet of racing yachts will berth at Lochmaddy Marina on North Uist where a spectacular parade of sails to the start line in the Sound of Harris will take place. Beginning with the arrival of the fleet on 9 June, the programme opens with shore-side cultural treats in North Uist’s main settlement of Lochmaddy. On 10 June the main race will take place covering a total of approximately 100 nautical miles in 24 hours, sailing out to the remote archipelago, using the islands as a turning point before returning to the finish line. Should be magnificent.


Where to Stay in Scotland

LTR-baronial-castle-bedroom Sleep in this four-poster at a stunning baronial castle on the banks of Loch Ness


LTR-perthshire-mansion-front1Stroll in the gardens of this noble classic country Kinross-shire mansion


LTR-contemporary-castle-viewTake it easy and enjoy the view in this magnificent contemporary castle in the Highlands


UltraVilla expert Loyd & Townsend Rose provide some of the most beautiful and luxurious properties and experiences to be had in Scotland. Click here to find out more.