25 January: BURNS NIGHT. A very special night in Scotland, commemorating the birth in 1759 of Robert Burns, the great poet and song-writer. Book a seat at one of the many Burns Night suppers and enjoy the traditional humorous speeches, live poetry, songs and bagpipe playing, and a meal of haggis, tatties and neeps, often accompanied by whisky (or the much loved bright orange Irn Bru for children). Dancing is optional.
13 February: SHROVE TUESDAY. The day before the start of Lent is celebrated as Pancake Day. Lots of pancake making and eating, and traditional pancake races – you have to run and toss a pancake from your frying pan at the same time.
14 February: ST VALENTINE’S DAY. A big night for lovers, and for restaurant owners. Take your boy/girlfriend or husband/wife out for a romantic meal. And don’t forget the card, flowers and chocolates.
1 April: APRIL FOOLS’ DAY. The day on which you are positively encouraged to play pranks on your friends and family. The newspapers often join in too, trying to fool their readers into believing some highly unlikely news story.
1 April: EASTER DAY IN 2018. Celebrated by the consumption of large amounts of chocolate egg. Small eggs are hidden around gardens by the Easter Bunny. Visitors who stay with us over Easter will take part in a traditional Easter egg hunt, and eat a traditional Sunday roast. Not to forget that this is the most important day in the Christian calendar – you may want to attend a church service at Crieff Parish Church, or at Dunblane Cathedral.
23 June 2018: COMMEMORATION OF THE BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN (1314). This includes a march to the site of the battle in Stirling (at which the English were defeated by the Scots army, led by king Robert the Bruce), with laying of wreaths and political speeches in favour of Scottish independence.
August: THE EDINBURGH FESTIVAL. The biggest arts festival in the world. We tend to go to events on the hugely varied Edinburgh Fringe, including theatre, musicals, stand up comics, magic shows, circus, classical music, acapella, cabaret, etc etc. There are 100s of shows every day, from all over the world, and the streets are full of crowds watching the street performers. The dates for 2018 are: 3-27 August. We take our child visitors to the Edinburgh Fringe, and adults can choose to spend their free day in Edinburgh to attend the formal Festival (high level music and theatre) or the Fringe. The famous EDINBURGH MILITARY TATTOO runs at Edinburgh Castle over the same period. Crieff often manages to entice some of its performers to the Crieff Highland Gathering.
August – date to follow: THE CRIEFF HIGHLAND GATHERING. A great day out, with the strong man competition (mainly consists of throwing various extremely heavy weights, while wearing a kilt), running and cycling races, tug-of-war, competitive Scottish dancing, Scottish bands, bagpipes and drumming. If you miss this one, there are other Highland Games dotted around the region throughout spring and summer.
23 August: ANNIVERSARY OF THE EXECUTION OF WILLIAM WALLACE (1305). A great day to visit the Wallace Monument, where actors commemorate the brutal death of the great Scottish hero (he was hung, drawn and quartered, which is even worse than it sounds). He is smiling in our photo, as he shows off his sword.
11 September: ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF STIRLING BRIDGE (1297). A chance for supporters of Scottish independence to meet up at the site of William Wallace’s great victory against the English. Flag waving, speeches, patriotic singing.
31 October: HALLOWEEN is special in Scotland. The tradition of “guising” goes back centuries, and is alive and well today. Children dress up and knock on neighbours’ doors, yes, but they are also expected to sing, tell jokes, put on a short play… If they do this to the satisfaction of the householder, they get their sweets! There is also often hot punch, dressing up and ghostly house decorations for accompanying adults to enjoy.
5 November: GUY FAWKES NIGHT. This is my favourite British festival! To commemorate the failure of the Gunpowder plot to blow up James I, the first of the Stewart (Scottish) Kings of England. Guy Fawkes being the most notorious of the conspirators. Bonfires and fireworks. The Bridge of Allan Fireworks Night is held against the background of Stirling’s lit up castle.
25 December: CHRISTMAS DAY. The children leave a stocking at the foot of the bed on Christmas Eve. Father Christmas visits during the night and stuffs it with toys, sweets and the traditional tangerine. After a walk or treasure hunt and church, we eat a Christmas roast with steamed Christmas pudding (not to everyone’s taste). Play games. Open the presents under the tree. Sing some carols. The children’s favourite day of the year.
31 December: HOGMANY. Scotland’s version of New Year’s Eve. Comrie celebrates with a procession of flambards, which are then thrown into the river. Stirling does a great Lantern procession, and there are many fireworks displays at midnight, including one from Stirling Castle. The famous Auld Lang Syne is of course a Scots poem by the great Robert Burns, written in 1788. In Edinburgh, the celebrations run for 4 days.