Scotland’s Fire Festivals

fire showChristmas may have come and gone, but the New Year still promises plenty of excitement, particularly if you decide to head up to Scotland for a mini break. The Scots know how best to beat the cold winter blues, and do so by lighting enormous fires. Fire Festivals provide entertainment for all generations. Here are a few it’s worth planning your trip around:

Up Helly Ya

Officially the biggest Fire Festival in Europe, this event, on the last Tuesday in January, is a must. The Viking festival lasts a full 24 hours, and includes marches, singing, and a torchlight procession. The event culminates in the burning of a galley, which blazes out at sea for everyone to watch. Dances and performances carry on all evening and the festival promises much revelry. Up Helly Ya takes place all the way up in the Shetlands, so is best combined with a stay in the great city of Aberdeen, where you can catch an overnight ferry to the festivities. Why not spend a few days in our Aberdeen Central hotel, and then join in the celebration on the UK’s most northerly set of islands?

The Burning of the Clavie

Dating back to before 1750, this historic festival has mysterious roots. Even if no one is sure why, residents of the town of Burghead, and the many visitors who come to join in, spend the evening of January 11th processing round the town following a burning barrel of stakes. The procession is known for getting rowdy and spirited as it makes its way to the ramparts of an ancient fort. Here the burning barrel is rolled down the hill until it burns to embers, which townspeople collect to bring them good luck for the New Year. For your chance to pick up some sooty good luck, book a room in our Inverness hotel, which is just an hour’s drive from the small town where the Clavie is burnt.

Beltane Fire Festival

This Edinburgh based event may be a little way off yet, but it’s well worth pre-planning for. In April, as many as 12,000 people descend on Scotland’s capital to dance around the fire, many covered in tribal body-paint. Even if stripping off in the cold and performing pagan rituals isn’t really your thing, the spectacle alone is worth the visit. Stay in one of our Edinburgh hotels for the chance to witness and play a part in some dramatic, fiery celebrations.

Big Burns Supper

Ok, so this “Burns” Night celebration is actually nothing to do with burning things, but rather the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Still, if you’re thinking about going up to Scotland for a winter festival, you should definitely consider visiting for Burns Night. The famous traditional evening entails kilts, haggises, bagpipes, and everything Scottish you could possibly ask for. Head to Dumfries at the end of January, and stay in our Dumfries hotel, for the biggest organised celebration.

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