Traditional Scottish Holidays and Festivals!

Lydia Kendall

Hello my wonderful lads and lassies,

The Scots have a lot of traditions, as we all know. And they sure know how to party! From the Celtic times up until now, some traditions have remained and are still celebrated in Scotland. 

From Hogmanay to the Highland games, Scotland knows how to have raw fun! Let’s discover some of the best traditional holidays of Scotland!

Hogmanay Winter Celebrations. Image source.


The Scottish New Year has been known for centuries as ‘Hogmanay’. It is not known how and why this name came to be, but only one thing is certain: you are going to have fun during Hogmanay! From cultural historical events that have been taking place for eons, to the most modern music and dances, you’ll find a bit of everything. Let’s take a closer look!

For example, Stonehaven’s Hogmanay Fireballs Ceremony has been known as one of the most memorable Fire Festivals! Right as the clock strikes midnight, the locals parade up and down the busiest street in town, fiercely throwing fire balls to ward off the bad spirits from the old year, making way for the spirits of the New Year to come in clean and fresh.

Edinburgh, on the other hand, shows you how to party for three day straight! With fireworks above the Princes Street Gardens, and traditional Scottish music under the Castle, the Scots know how to have fun on New Years!

Bands in Highland Games. Image source.

Highland Games

The Highland games are the oldest festival of Scotland. It has its origins in century old history, but the games had stopped due to the Act of Proscription in 1746 following the crushing of the Jacobite Rebellion. The act outlawed Scottish dress, customs and gatherings and was in force for almost 40 years. Thankfully, it was appealed, and the Highland Games began gaining popularity once again!

The Highland Games held each June at Ceres in Fife, the oldest free games in Scotland, began under a Charter awarded by Robert the Bruce in recognition of the villagers’ support at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314!

There are many sports that take place during the Highland games, such as hammer throw, shot put, tug o’ war, etc. But apart from sports, dancing and piping also take place! Dancing, piping, fiddling, and playing the clarsach (Gaelic harp). There is a competitive element here too. Long ago, the clan chieftains pitted their pipers against those of other clans and the prestige that came from success was considerable.

Highland Games. Image source.

What fun would it be to participate in these games, huh? I would love to!

Burns Night 

Known in medieval Celtic culture as a story teller, verse maker and composer, the word ‘Bard’ has become synonymous with the world’s greatest poets. However, few are as celebrated as Scotland’s own ‘National Bard’, Robert Burns, who is commemorated every year on the 25th of January. 

Robert Burns was born in Ayrshire in 1759. He’s also known as ‘the Ploughman Poet’, and his literary works are celebrated by the Scots centuries later! Who wouldn’t realize the heartbreak behind his most recorded love song, Ae Fond Kiss?

“Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; 

Ae fareweel, alas, for ever…”

The first Burns supper was held in 1801 and in the 200+ years since then new traditions have been added but the sentiment remains the same: to pay tribute to their beloved national poet. Burns LOVED haggis. He even wrote a poem about it! Hahaha!

So, to start a perfect Burns supper, you should start, of course, with the Scottish delicacy of haggis, or the ‘great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race’, as the Bard himself described it. Then, of course, you should drink your favorite malt, and wear your favorite tartan piece, before you head to the celebrations taking place in various cities. For example, in Perth, the Burns Nights celebrations are the opening feature of Riverside Light Nights event, with animations and entertainments by the River Tay. 

Which one would you like to attend, me bonnie? I’d like to watch the Highland Games, but all of them sound lovely! 

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…

Written by Lydia Kendall

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