Copyright - Jonathan Combe

What’s new in Scotland in 2016?


2016 marks Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design, which builds 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 the spotlight on Scotland’s greatest assets and icons, as well as some of our unique hidden gems.

One of the key features of 2016 is going to be the first ever Festival of Architecture 2016, which will offer a Scotland-wide programme of events. Another exciting event will be the reopening of St. Peter’s Seminary in 2016, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the building which has been described as Scotland’s most significant modernist building and was left abandoned in 1980. A March opening party will be taking place at St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross – inviting the public to experience Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s ruin with sound and light installations for the very first time.

NEW routes and trails

  • Virgin Train London – Stirling direct rail service (launches December 2015)
  • Flybe Liverpool – Edinburgh flight (launched October 2015)
  • British Airways – new daily flights from Heathrow to Inverness, gateway to the Highlands and Islands. The new year-round service will start on 3rd May 2016, connecting Inverness directly with Heathrow’s T5.
  • Smugglers Trail – the 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 have interpretation of 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 will be upgraded over this winter to show more of the Smugglers’ Trail stories
  • New Cairngorms ‘Scenic Route’ – set to be launched in 2016 is an outstanding scenic route along the eastern side of the Cairngorms National Park, from Glenshee to Grantown-on-Spey. The trail is set to 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 is expected to encourage more people to experience and enjoy the breath-taking landscapes of the Cairngorms.

NEW activities, attractions and exhibitions

  • 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.
  • National Museum of Flight in East Lothian will be complete its refurbishment in Spring 2016 following a £3.6 million project. Work is underway to restore two nationally significant Second World War hangars at the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune, and create 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.
  • Pitlochy Dam visitor centre – SSE has unveiled plans to open a new state-of-the-art £4m visitor centre in September 2016 at Pitlochry dam to showcase the role played by the engineers and builders who first brought hydro power 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. The new visitor centre will open in September 2016 and will house a 60 seat café, retail area, and a multi-space area for educational use.
  • Falkirk Distillery – this brand new distillery adds to Scotland’s thriving whisky trails and will offer a facility housing a world class leading retail, restaurant and business complex.
  • Wilderness Scotland is offering a range of new self-drive tours along impossibly quiet roads through some of the most stunning scenery of 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.
  • The Flying Scotsman locomotive – will return 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 the World Heritage Site The Forth Bridge as part of a four-day tour from 14th -17th May.
  • Celts: art and identity comes to the National Museum Scotland from 10th March – 25th September 2016.This exhibition will tell 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.
  • 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 Rangersto 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 work with businesses such as hotels, B&B’s and campsites to run events and tailor-make experiences for visitors.
  • Crawick Multiverse has received further development ahead of 2016. A major land restoration and art project in Dumfries & Galloway, Crawick Multiverse utilises landscape art to transform a former open cast coal mine.
  • The Roxburghe Estates – is investing in new garden features in the 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 house plants. Plants such as streptocarpus are grown under glass and displayed at Floors Castle and always provide a beautiful show of colour.
  • The Scottish Poetry Library reopened towards the end of 2015 on 29th 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. 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.

Anniversaries in 2016

  • 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. Visitors will be able to go and see Dolly the Sheep at the National Museum of Scotland from summer 2016.
  • 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.
  • 150 year anniversary of the National Museum of Scotland – a £14.1 million project will lead to the creation of ten new galleries showcasing over 3000 objects from National Museums Scotland’s internationally significant collections of science and technology, decorative art, design and fashion. Display space for these exhibits will increase by over 40%, with three-quarters of them not having previously been on permanent display for generations. The new galleries will open to the public 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.
  • The Queen’s 90th birthday will be celebrated by Royal Yacht Britannia (Edinburgh) which is planning a series of exciting events to celebrate the in April 2016. For more information please contact VisitScotland from February 2016.
  • 10 year anniversary of The National Theatre of Scotland is being celebrated with a recently announced January to July birthday programme. The tour wil see the Company travelling widely throughout Scotland, as well as presenting world–class Scottish theatre on stages in London, England, North America, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.
  • Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe -three special exhibitions will be held in celebration of The Queen’s 90th birthday and will be staged across each of Her Majesty’s official residences during 2016.
    Constituting the largest display of The Queen’s dress 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.
  • 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 17th – 26th 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 11 o’clock at night. Venues include on 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 next year, the Ness Battery, overlooking Stromness out to sea.

Updated festivals and events

  • 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.
  • Celtic Connections will see 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.
  • Cupar Arts Festival is set to return after three years. Running from 18th – 25th 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.
  • 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 programme. 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.
  • Weekend celebration of Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design at The National Wallace Monument – the weekend of themed events will run from from 24th – 26th June 2016 and will be hosted by the Victorian masterpiece, The National Wallace Monument. 24th 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.
  • The Battle of Stirling Bridge at The National Wallace Monument – on 10th and 11th September, to commemorate Wallace’s greatest victory the atmosphere of 1297 will be recreated with medieval weaponry displays, live performances and themed events.
  • St Kilda Yacht Race – The first ever St Kilda Challenge yacht race will take place Thursday to Saturday, June 9-11 2016. The fleet of racing yachts will berth at Lochmaddy Marina on North Uist where a spectacular parade of sail to the start line in the Sound of Harris will take place. Beginning with the arrival of the fleet on June 9, the programme opens with shoreside cultural treats in North Uist’s main settlement of Lochmaddy. On 10th June the main race will take placecovering 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.

As you can see there is lots going on in the Scotland in 2016!

Image: Beinn Dorain by Jonathan Combe

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