2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.

Scotland’s history and heritage is what defines the country for many visitors. It is an integral and iconic part of our national brand as well as a major contributor to our economy. The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 builds upon the momentum generated by preceding themed years to spotlight, celebrate and promote Scotland’s rich and vibrant heritage in order to engage and attract the people of Scotland and our visitors.

Think ancient and mysterious standing stones, sweeping glens and mountains, storytelling, heritage heroes, world-renowned historic collections and castles, and so much more. Visitors to Scotland can discover tales of legendary kings and queens, Jacobite battles, stories handed down from one generation to the next, all set against Scotland’s unique panoramic landscapes and enriching culture.

“From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, listed buildings to important battlefields, cultural traditions to captivating myths, stories and legends, the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 will be a year to enjoy the best of Scotland’s historic places, icons and hidden gems,” says VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead. “From the Scottish Borders to Shetland, and from Fife to the Isle of Skye, we want visitors to relive Scotland’s fascinating past through a range of exciting events, attractions and activities during 2017.

“While it can be said that history and heritage is Scotland’s bread and butter, with many uncertainties on the horizon it would be complacent of us to rest on our laurels and expect the year to sell itself.  Never has the time for cross-sectoral collaboration and partnership been more vital. What an opportunity it is for us to capitalise on the year within our priority international markets where heritage and ancestry is a key driver especially when ancestral tourists spend more than double per visit and stay longer on average when holidaying in Scotland. To get ahead, we are encouraging businesses to be ready for the start of the year by downloading the YHHA17 eBrochure and by signing up to be part of our relaunched Ancestral Welcome scheme.”


Alongside incredible historic sites, a wealth of vibrant cultural traditions and vast range of heritage attractions, Scotland hosts an exciting annual events programme that showcases its history and heritage, bringing traditions to life in a modern, vibrant way.

From Celtic Connections to Burns Night; Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival to the Royal Highland Show; The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival to the Hebridean Celtic Music Festival; Highland Games and Clan events to Doors Open Days and the Royal National Mòd to Hogmanay, the annual programme is bursting with exciting experiences to bring the 2017 themes alive.

Some key dates include:


1 January. Edinburgh’s Old Town

On the first day of 2017, set the compass and join in on an adventurous journey across Edinburgh’s Old Town. Discover the unique landscape of Scot:Lands with the very best in music, art and theatre, created and curated by Scotland’s most innovative artists and musicians.

Up Helly Aa

31 January. Shetland

Up Helly Aa is a tradition that originated in the 1880s. Since then the festival has been an annual occurrence in the Shetland calendar. Throughout the day there are experiences a plenty to be had by all from the celebration of history, the sight of the Guizer Jarl, his Jarl Squad marching through the town followed by his galley to the evening party atmosphere in the halls.

Burns an’ a’ that! Festival 2017

25 – 29 January & dates throughout May

A unique commemoration of Scotland’s poet Robert Burns including events such as Burns

Alicht, Burns Big Birthday Bash, The Alloway 1759 World Haggis Hurling Championships, Burnsfest and The Robert Burns Humanitarian Awards.

Celtic Connections

19 January – 5 February

Throughout Glasgow

Celtic Connections is the largest annual music festival of its kind and the UK’s premier celebration of Celtic music. 2,100 artists, 300 events, 1 brilliant festival!

TradFest Edinburgh • Dùn Èideann

27 April – 7 May

Throughout Edinburgh

Rooted in the Past. Resonating in the Present. A vibrant multi-arts programme showcasing

traditional music, dance and storytelling at a feast of folk culture in Scotland’s Capital.

Festival of Museums

19 – 21 May. Throughout Scotland

A weekend of exciting and surprising things to do for all the family in Scottish museums.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites

26 June – 12 November

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

A major new exhibition telling the real story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the rise and fall of the Jacobites. Featuring spectacular treasures from across the UK and France, the exhibition reveals who the Jacobites were and explores the cause that drove their campaigns.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

August. Edinburgh

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo embraces a colourful theme for 2017 – Splash of Tartan, playing host to a stunning array of performers from all points of the compass. In a Royal Navy lead year, the event will set sail with the Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines as well as celebrating the heritage, colour and diversity of Scotland’s global family both near and far.


Throughout 2017. Across Scotland

This celebration of archaeology invites you to explore Scotland’s stories through a packed programme of events, featuring adventurous outings, passionate performances, appetising activities, hands-on history, and everything in between.