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2020 Bucket List - 10 Scottish Experiences You Can't Miss

Established in Edinburgh in 2004, Absolute Escapes are award-winning specialists in self-drive holidays in Scotland. Our team have turned our love of exploring Scotland into our day job - we know exactly where to find the best places to stay, fantastic hidden gems, and how to turn your trip into an unforgettable one. 

As we kick-off 2020, we’ve made life that bit easier and listed our top experiences in the country this year. Get out there and keep discovering Scotland!

Year of Coasts and Waters
 

2020 sees the return of VisitScotland’s themed years with a focus on Scotland’s Coasts and Waters. With a coastline over 10,000 miles long which is studded with picturesque ports, beautiful beaches, and over 790 islands, Scotland’s coasts and waters have always played an important part in shaping our culture and story.

In 2020, annual gems such as the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy and Crail Food Festival will be joined by The Fife Regatta, an expanded Clydebuilt Festival, and Edinburgh International Film Festival will present Scotland's Shores, featuring classic film screenings and a special outdoor coastal experience.

The RSPB will celebrate Aberdeen's status as one of the few cities in Europe where dolphins can regularly be seen from the shore at DolphinFest 2020. Scotland's Boat Show and Kip Marina will make a splash with a brand new special event  'River of Light' and The National Theatre of Scotland will deliver, Ferry Tales, an exciting new production, celebrating Scotland's surrounding waters and the journeys over them made by thousands of residents and tourists.

From taking a boat tour on a famous loch or kayaking the coast spotting sea life as you go, 2020 is a fine year to experience Scotland’s Coasts and Waters.

 
 
 
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Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo's 70th Anniversary
 

Experience this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in style! This year sees the 70th anniversary of the Military Tattoo and will certainly be a splendid display.

Before the show, you can enjoy a champagne dinner at the fabulous Cannonball Restaurant. Along with an escort to the castle, you’ll be treated to an up-close preview of the night ahead!

 
 
 
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Aberdeen Art Gallery and Street Art
 

The city of Aberdeen has undergone a cultural renaissance over the last number of years, with its vibrant street art scene a strong element of the revival. 

Following a once-in-a-lifetime transformation costing £35 million, the Aberdeen Art Gallery is sure to be the main attraction for art lovers!

 
 
 
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Celtic Music Festivals
 

You can’t visit Scotland without hearing a tune or two and music festivals are a great way of experiencing Scotland’s music. 

Each region has its own music festival, from the far north reaches of Shetland to the rolling hills of the borders, there’s always a festival throughout the year. One of the most popular festivals for traditional Celtic music is the Hebridean Celtic Festival on the Isle of Lewis.

 
 
 
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Burns Night at Òran Mór
 

What better way to celebrate our National Bard Robert Burns birthday (January 25th), than with a night of Scots poems, singing, tartan, haggis and whisky! 

Glasgow’s famous Òran Mór offers a memorable experience and a chance to celebrate Burns in style!

 
 
 
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Neolithic Orkney
 

The amazing archipelago of Orkney in Scotland's far north is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Heart of Neolithic Orkney' which dates back 5,000 years.

You can walk around standing stone circles, coastal settlements and ancient burials. One of the most fascinating is the recently rediscovered Ness of Brodgar settlement which is unparalleled in Western Europe. We suggest stepping back in time and exploring this site in 2020.

 
 
 
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Jacobite Steam Train
 

Step onboard the iconic Jacobite Steam Train, which has become legendary through the wizarding world of Harry Potter! Considered one of the most iconic railway journeys in the world, you’ll travel through stunning Highland landscapes, past the famous Loch Shiel to Mallaig on the coast, and within touching distance of the Isle of Skye. 

Travel in style in 1st class with the vintage compartment carriages, certainly an experience you’ll remember for some time!

 
 
 
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Shetland - Up Helly Aa!
 

Ever seen a procession of Vikings marching through the street bearing torches before burning a giant wooden boat? No, I didn’t think so! 

In Scotland’s far north, the Shetland Islands play host to the largest fire festival in Europe - Up Helly Aa. In this truly exhilarating experience, locals don spectacular Viking wear and march through the streets with flaming torches to celebrate Shetland’s Viking culture and heritage. 

Why don’t you make 2020 the year you explore the Shetland Isles?

 
 
 
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Galloway Dark Skies Park
 

For an experience out of this world, you have to visit Galloway International Dark Sky Park in beautiful south-west Scotland - the only park of its kind in the UK.

Light pollution here is low to non-existent which provides perfect stargazing conditions. Here you can gaze at distant planets, shining stars and see the Milky Way spread out over the night sky. If you’d like to explore this hidden corner of Scotland on foot, why not lace up your hiking boots and take to the Southern Upland Way - a diverse long-distance trail which ventures through the Galloway Forest Park.

 
 
 
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Best Hotel in the UK - Fife Arms Hotel
 

In the small village of Braemar in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, you might be surprised to find one of the finest hotels in Europe - the newly opened Fife Arms

Awarded hotel of the year in 2019, this Victorian coaching inn has been imaginatively redesigned for the modern age. With over 14,000 pieces of art adorning the walls and rooms, this makes for an enlightening experience. There are a number of dining options in the hotel, one even showcasing wood-fired cooking of great Scottish produce.

A stay at the Fife Arms Hotel will be a world-class experience!

 
 
 
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With so much to see and do, 2020 is a great year to plan your Scottish holiday. Whether it’s a self-drive discovery or a walking adventure, send us an enquiry and we’ll be there to assist you along the way.

Jason Martin

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