A new railway line into the beautiful Scottish Borders, world sporting championships, celebrations of culture including the Turner Prize and a year dedicated to the nation's food and drink – Scotland really does have something everyone!
In 2015, hundreds of events will take place throughout the country, many of which are new or one-off events, creating lots of brilliant moments for visitors. Here are some new openings and events to look out for…
NEW routes and trails
September 2015, Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh
The new Borders Railway will be the longest new domestic railway to be constructed in Britain for over 100 years. Running between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, the journey will take less than an hour and will open up opportunities for visitors to explore Midlothian and the Scottish Borders, an area which has an international reputation as an excellent cycling destination and beautiful countryside famous for inspiring Sir Walter Scott.
Spring 2015, Scottish Borders
A Smugglers' Trail is due to open in the eastern Scottish Borders in spring 2015. It will follow the Berwickshire coastal path that stretches from Burnmouth to Cove including St Abb's Head National Nature Reserve. Recent research on smuggling in Berwickshire in the 18th century has unearthed many true accounts on this dramatic coastline. At the heart of the trail is Gunsgreen House in Eyemouth. Built in 1753 by the most successful smuggler of them all, John Nisbet, Gunsgreen House features secret hiding places such as concealed -tea chute'.
Spring 2015, North Highlands
The North Coast 500 will be a northern touring route that incorporates 500 miles of some of the best scenery the North Highlands has to offer. The road route runs from Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, to the Kyle of Lochalsh on the West Coast via the rugged north coast. It will link spectacular natural heritage and scenery with beautiful places to stop on the way to rest and enjoy local food and drink, accommodation and other attractions.
April 2015, Highlands
The Affric Kintail Way will be a fully signposted, superb cross-country route for walkers and mountain bikers stretching almost 44 miles from Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness to Morvich in Kintail by Loch Duich. The route follows a wilder landscape than the Great Glen Way and invites a stopover at Scotland's most remote Youth Hostel at Alltbeithe in Glen Affric.
NEW activities and exhibitions
April to October 2015, Skye
Skye Seaplanes is a new seaplane operation from the highly successful Loch Lomond Seaplanes – the UK's only commercial seaplane company and voted by Scots as the country's top "must do" activity. The Isle of Skye is one of the most stunning islands in the world and visitors can enjoy the voyage from an iconic seaplane taking them back to the halcyon days of travel. Flights depart from the stunning little airfield of Broadford on the south east corner of the Isle of Skye with an unforgettable water take-off and landing during the tour. Prices from £89.
5 December 2014 – 20 April 2015, Edinburgh
Featuring over 100 playable games, Game Masters showcases the work of more than 30 leading videogame designers. The exhibition explores the development of videogames through interviews with game designers and rare original game artwork, as well as looking forward to how independently produced games are leading the way in design, aesthetics and game play.
Exhibition created by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne, and supported by the Victorian Government.
Turner Prize exhibition
October – December 2015, Glasgow
In 2015 the Turner Prize will be hosted at Glasgow's Tramway where a free exhibition will give visitors to the city a chance to see the very best of current British art. The Turner Prize is arguably the world's most prestigious award for contemporary art. Over recent decades the award has played a significant role in provoking debate about visual art and promoting public interest in contemporary art. Founded in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art, the Turner Prize is awarded each year to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding exhibition or presentation of their work in the preceding 12 months.
Anniversaries in 2015
Saturday 5 September 2015, Aberdeenshire
2015 will be the 200th anniversary of the Braemar Royal Highland Society which is best known for running the Braemar Gathering since 1832. The annual event is one of the most famous of Scotland's traditional Highland Games, and an event the British Royal Family like to attend. The Braemar Gathering is a display of what makes Scotland's culture so rich and unique, complete with games like -tossing the caber' (throwing a huge, heavy pole), the Tug of War and Highland Dancing – plus plenty of bagpipes! In 2015 visitors will also see pipe bands marching alongside the Atholl Highlanders and Lonach Highlanders. Snacks and drinks will be available from food stalls and an on-site bar.
300 years since the 1715 Jacobite Rising
The outbreak of rebellion in 1715 saw the largest-ever massing of Scottish Jacobite forces against the government. 300 years on, visitors can learn more about the Jacobite clansmen at the Glenfinnan Monument and Visitor Centre at the head of Loch Shiel in Inverness-shire. The monument was erected as a tribute to the Jacobites in 1815. Set amid beautiful highland scenery, the monument can be truly enjoyed from the Jacobite steam train which also crosses the Glenfinnan viaduct, made famous in the Harry Potter films.
NEW whisky experiences
Spring 2015, Isle of Harris
The Isle of Harris Distillery in Tarbert will be the first distillery in Harris when it opens this spring. Its creation has been driven by a deep and abiding love for the beauty and wit of the area and its people. It will be a Social Distillery that gives its guests a warm welcome with personal guided tours and the rare opportunity to find how the first Harris whisky will be made. Local produce will be on offer in its canteen and retail area.
Annandale Distillery re-opens after 90 years
Official launch spring 2015, Dumfries and Galloway
The re-awakening of Annandale Distillery after 90 years means that fine Single Malt Scotch whisky will flow again from the Scottish Borders. A variety of tours will show visitors the processes of whisky making and the Distillery Manager will be on hand to answer any questions. Local craftsmanship will be displayed in the woodwork and furniture and there will also be a coffee shop and retail area.
Early 2015, Glasgow
Glengoyne Distillery is extending its tour offering with the opening of a new maturation area and warehouse, No1 Warehouse. Visitors will learn about the effect different oak species, cask manufacture and previous fill of casks has on the spirit and will draw two drams directly from a fill sherry cask and first fill bourbon barrel.
December 2014, St Andrews
St Andrews will celebrate the launch of a new single malt scotch whisky distillery to the area. Owned by the Wemyss family, The Kingsbarns Distillery and Visitor Centre is located just outside of St Andrews in the village of Kingsbarns and overlooks the internationally acclaimed Kingsbarns Golf Links course. The first Kingsbarns Single Malt Scotch whisky will be ready in 2018 and the visitor centre will offer a unique opportunity for guests to watch the process first-hand and be part of the history of the Kingsbarns Single Scotch Malt Whisky in the making.
NEW festivals and events
5 – 6 June 2015 Scottish Highlands
In June 2015, there will be a variety of activities designed to tire out kids and grown-ups alike, from educating children and young people about the importance of healthy food choices, to exploring possible careers in the food industry, as well as some science behind your favourite dishes. There will also be a whole host of local food and drink traders on hand to give talks and answer questions, promising the day will be deliciously informative for all.
23 October – 1 November, Glasgow
The first World Artistic Gymnastics Championships took place in Antwerp in 1903, over 100 years later, the 46th World Gymnastics Championships will come to Glasgow in 2015. The event will see 10 days of thrilling competition as gymnasts compete for prestigious World titles to secure their place amongst the legends of the sport. As a qualification event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, every gymnast will aim to be at their very best in Glasgow. Tickets from £7:50 available now from ticket soup
1 – 7 August 2015, Inverness
Based in Inverness, Scotland, WOC 2015 will utilise the fantastic terrain that this region has to offer. From the Moray coastal towns to the rugged forests and mountains of the Highlands, the challenges that these areas present will produce worthy world champions.
9 – 12 April 2015, Glasgow
The European Judo Championships are set to return to the UK for the first time in20 years. Top level judo will return to the Emirate's Arena in Glasgow, following the 2014 Glasgow European Open in the same venue and the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The event is set to see the stars of European judo competing for the coveted title of European Champion. The Championships will carry key qualification points in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Olympics. This makes the Championships a likely target for Europe top judoka and will see some of Great Britain's top competitors fighting against the likes of Teddy Riner for the title. Tickets from £13:50 available now
Village Urban Resorts
January and June 2015
Have everything you could ever wish for under one roof, close to the city you love. Cool rooms, big pool, great dining and a cracking gym. Village Urban Resorts are opening two new hotels in Scotland in 2015. The first will be in January when the new Edinburgh hotel opens its doors. This will be followed with a new Glasgow hotel in June 2015.
Spring 2016, Edinburgh
The Royal Yacht Britannia has acquired the iconic heritage vessel MV Windsor Castle. In a near £1 million investment, this classically designed ship is to be converted into a 25 bedroom luxury 'boatique' hotel due to open in Spring 2016. She will be berthed permanently, adjacent to Britannia in Edinburgh's historic port of Leith.
For more information on all the events and openings listed above, and other events taking place throughout Scotland, go to www.visitscotland.com.