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Scot it all - Scotland top destination for 2013

January 4, 2013
by Laura Canning | destinations | guides

We don’t think James Bond would be surprised – CNN has just named Scotland as its top destination to visit in 2013, ahead of Morocco, Amsterdam and New Zealand.

It’s a lot to do with the latest Bond film, CNN explains, since anyone watching the Highlands scenes in Skyfall will come out of the cinema wanting to ‘race through Scotland’s dramatic countryside’. (We want to do that at least once a day, and already have our beady eyes set on a Scottish spring trip.)

To the Scottish Borders It’s set to be a top tourism year for Scotland, which has just started its ‘Year of Natural Scotland’ with heaps of festivals, events and outdoor activities planned throughout the year. To celebrate, we’ve put together some events and info for having a Scottish 2013 – hither thee hence:

Glasgow Film Festival , 14-22 February: Brazilian cinema, short films, the Youth Film Festival and FrightFest are all slotted in for this year, as well as what’s going to be our favourite – the James Cagney: Top of the World, Ma! strand. (Book several weeks off work and stay in Glasgow after the film fest for the comedy festival starting in mid-March.)

Edinburgh International Film Festival , 19-30 June – and the Edinburgh International Science Festival in March, the Edinburgh Jazz Festival in July, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August, and the Edinburgh International Festival from August to September. (Book more time off.)

T in the Park , 12-14 July: There’ll be the usual big names lined up for T in the Park again, with Mumford and Sons, Rhianna and The Killers announced so far for 2013. But we think it’s also worthwhile lurking around the T Break stage to hear some new acts, so you can self-importantly say in a few years that you heard them here first.

The Open Championship, 14-21 July: The first Open Championship was played in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club, Ayrshire and returns to Scotland in 2013. If your swing isn’t quite up to that standard (yet), celebrate by a round or two at some of Scotland’s top golf courses: here are our sites in Scotland with golf nearby .

Deep Fried Film Festival , August: Details are still forthcoming for this year’s independent film festival in Lanarkshire, but any event that gives out Sausage Supper and Golden Fritter awards is going on our Scotland list for this year for sure.

Common Ridings , June and July: Gallop to the Scottish Borders this summer for one of the oldest equestrian events in the world, celebrating the horsey history of the Borders region. There’ll be eleven towns taking part including the towns with the oldest ridings ceremonies – Hawick, Selkirk, Langholm and Lauder.

Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight , 7-22 September: Over 220 food and drink events took place around the country as part of the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight for 2012, including the Ayrshire Harvest Festival, tapas nights, venison tasting and steak nights.

Highland walks And then there’s going to Scotland not for a particular event, but nipping to and around it on a weekend off. For this, we recommend staggering Scottish weekends by staggering along sections of the newly-opened Scottish National Trail, covering 470 miles of terrain from the Scottish Borders to Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point on the mainland. We also recommend extra socks.

If walking is Not Quite Your Thing, fret not, for there are other trails around Scotland for more decadent types. Involving whisky and cheese mainly, which we salute.

The Scottish Cheese Trail goes from the award-winning Island Smokery in the Orkneys to the organic – and also award-winning – Loch Arthur Creamery in Dumfries and Galloway, zigzagging in a tasty way around the country along its route. Or there’s the Real Ale Trail from the Isle of Islay to the Orkneys, stopping along at several tasty breweries on the way including the rousingly named Valhalla Brewery in Shetland.

The Malt Whisky Trail was lovingly covered by Pitchup.com a while back and inspired the new camping term of dramping – drinking and camping which we were frankly surprised and more than a little miffed not to see in the OED the following year. Our guide covers the Malt Whisky Trail itself as well as whisky distilleries in the Hebrides and the smallest distillery in Scotland at Edradour – we also, in a fit of glorious optimism, included what to do in these areas in between all the dram sampling.

Booked time off work yet? We've loads of campsites and holiday parks in Scotland for you to take your pick from wherever you decide to go - with plenty open all year for hardy winter hiking. As for us, we’ll be keeping those beady eyes on Scotland throughout 2013 to see what else goes on around the land, and will report back from all those Scottish trips we now have planned. It’s the least we can do.

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