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20 New Attractions and Only in Scotland Experiences for 2020


VisitScotland wants to start the new decade off by sharing the new attractions and one-of-a-kind experiences travellers can enjoy in Scotland. 

Scotland will be celebrating a new themed year: Year of Coasts and Waters 2020. A year-long programme of events and activities that shine light on Scotland’s lochs, rivers, canals, seafood, inland and coastal landscapes and history. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in Scotland’s maritime heritage through attractions, events and food and drink. 

After ringing in the new decade at one of Scotland’s annual and famous <a href=”“><strong>Hogmanay</strong></a> events, check out an abundance of recent and different activities….


Dive into Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 with <a href=”“><strong>DolphinFest 2020</strong></a> and <a href=””><strong>Edinburgh International Film Festival presents Scotland’s Shores</strong></a><strong>.</strong>

One of the best places in Europe to watch bottlenose dolphins is on the harbour shores of <a href=”“><strong>Aberdeen</strong></a>. The <a href=”“><strong>DolphinFest 2020</strong></a>will take place throughout the month of April in Aberdeen, celebrating the region’s dolphins through interactive games, pop-up activities, conservation talks and citizen science projects. The festival’s mission is to promote sustainability and further inspire guests to reduce, recycle and refuse, attend beach cleans and reduce their carbon footprint. 

The Edinburgh International Film Festival

For more Year of Coasts &amp; Waters events, visit:


Most visitors know Scotland makes a good bottle of whisky. However, some may not know that Scottish gin accounts for 70% of the UK’s overall gin production and three of the world’s best- selling gins (Hendrick’s, Gordon’s and Tanqueray). 

<strong>Peebles Hydro</strong><strong>The Orkney Distillery</strong>

For more Scottish gin-spiration, visit:


Black Sheep Hotels recently launched their third hotel, the former Litterfinlay Lodgewhich has undergone extensive refurbishment and is now re-opened as the <a href=”“><strong>Whispering Pine Lodge</strong></a>. Originally built as a hunting lodge in the 1800’s it became a hotel favourite to celebrities. Situated on the banks of <strong>Loch Lochy</strong> with breath-taking views of the Highlands. Food and drink options at the lodge includes The Lochside Brasserie which serves locally sourced fresh fish, seafood and classical regional cuisines while The Burns Bar is fully stocked with a wide range of local Scottish Whisky. Guests can also stay at one of the lodges three-bedroom cottages.

Another hotel part of the Black Sheep Hotel group that has undergone further refurbishment recently is the <a><strong>Cluanie Inn</strong></a> which re-opened in September 2019.  The Inn originally dates to 1787 where it started as a staging post for cattle drovers. This luxurious inn is in Glen Shiel on the way to the Isle of Skye where it boasts wild views for guests to enjoy. 

In July 2019 the Black Sheep Hotel group opened the <a><strong>Rokeby Mano</strong>r</a> in <strong>Invergarry.</strong> This Victorian Manor was built using local materials and hand-made techniques. Visitors can enjoy the rustic farmhouse restaurant, Emily’s Byre with its cosy bar. This lovely manor house is also located en route to the Isle of Skye. 


The <a href=”;”><strong>Johnnie Walker</strong></a> brand celebrates its <strong>200th anniversary </strong>in 2020. Situated within the former House of Fraser department store on Prince’s Street in Edinburgh, the Johnnie Walker Experience will be a three-storey immersive space exploring whisky making and the blended Scotch brand’s 200-year history. The Johnnie Walker Experience, which should launch at the end of 2020, forms a central part of Diageo’s £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism, which includes the upgrade of the company’s 12 distillery visitor centres across Scotland. 

A further £35 million is being invested in reopening the silent distilleries of <strong>Port Ellen</strong> on Islay, and <strong>Brora</strong> in Sutherland. While whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to the Johnnie Walker blend, four distilleries, <strong>Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila</strong> and <strong>Clynelish</strong>, will be put at the heart of the Johnnie Walker experience in Edinburgh, representing the “four corners of Scotland” and the regional flavour variations of Lowland (Glenkinchie), Speyside (Cardhu), Island (Caol Ila) and Highland (Clynelish). 

The anniversary of Johnnie Walker will be celebrated throughout 2020.  

On 5 April, 2020 a horse-led procession of over 500 people will march from Arbroath Abbey to Arbroath Harbour to re-enact the <strong>Declaration of Arbroath </strong>sailing to France in 1320 in celebration of the 700th anniversary. The Declaration of Arbroath emphasised Scotland’s right as a nation and was sent from Arbroath Abbey to Pope John in Avignon on 6 April 1320. Events include a giant outdoor lunch on Beacon Green and hundreds of voices singing within the walls of Arbroath Abbey. 

The Declaration of Arbroath will be displayed at <strong>the National Museum of Scotland </strong>from 27 March to 26 April, 2020. The document has not been on display for 15 years. 

For more information on Arbroath 2020 and a list of events, visit 


The <a href=”“><strong>Aberdeen Art Gallery</strong></a>officially reopened to the public on Saturday, 2 November after at £34.6 million investment. The gallery which first opened in 1885 closed in 2015 for refurbishments with the improved gallery including nationally and internationally-acclaimed artists such as Rachel McLean, Bill Gibb, Vincent van Gogh and Claude Money. The investment went into the fabric of the buildings, new exhibition and display galleries, improved visitor facilities and an enhanced activity programme. 

Watch Aberdeen Art Gallery tour guide Margaret bring art to life in VisitScotland’s Tour Guide Tails:

6.<strong>The Heart 200</strong><strong>The Coig</strong>

For more unforgettable road trip ideas:


Launched in June 2019, the <a href=”“><strong>Hebridean Whale Trail</strong></a>showcases Scotland’s west coast as a world-class destination for spotting whales, dolphins and porpoises from land, and champions conservation of the Hebrides’ globally important marine wildlife and environment. It’s the first of its kind in the UK connecting more than 30 top places offering opportunities for land-based sightings. In addition to the Hebrides’, <strong>Banffshire</strong> and <strong>The Moray Coast</strong>, also known as ‘The Dolphin Coast’ is a hot-spot for those wanting to see bottlenose dolphins in their natural environment. 

For those wanting to spot charming grey seals or puffins, visit Orkney and join one of the <a href=”“><strong>Wild Orkney Walks.</strong></a> There’s a wildlife walk for every season! Or how about swimming with Britain’s largest fish – the basking shark? Sighting hot-spots include the <strong>Firth of Clyde,</strong> off the coast of Oban and around the Isles of Coll, Tiree and Canna. Book a tour with <a href=””><strong>Basking Shark Tour</strong></a> from April to October – beginners are welcome! 

Back on dryland, enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience and enjoy a new guided tour of farm animals in their natural environment with <a href=””><strong>Kitchen Coos &amp; Ewes</strong></a> in Dumfries and Gallowaywhich launched in September 2019. Guests will get the chance to meet Scotland’s beloved Highland Coo. Or join an <a href=””><strong>Arran Forest Safari</strong></a> on the Isle of Arran with Mogabout Tours to catch red squirrels, deer and birds of prey.  

For more information on Scottish wildlife visit


The delicious foodie town of Dundee has launched their <strong>#</strong><a href=””><strong>DundeeEats guide</strong></a> in November. Dundee is extremely important to the food industry in Scotland as 70% of Scotland’s fresh produce is grown within a 30-mile radius of Dundee due to its proximity to the field, farm and coastline. Visitors are encouraged to visit the city’s West End’s cosmopolitan food and drink scene, the family-run cafes in the city centre and ice cream at ‘The Ferry’. Try some local Dundee creations like ‘pehs’, marmalade and Dundee cake and visitors should eat their way through the Food Bucket list! The region has a clear mission on reducing its food waste by working with Zero Waste Scotland through cutting their own waste and educating. 

To download the Dundee Eats guide, visit

In April 2020 a truly one-of-a-kind tour will be launching in <strong>Stirlingshire</strong> close to Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park at a working sheep farm. A trip to Scotland isn’t complete without sampling our national dish, haggis and<strong> </strong><a href=”“><strong>The Haggis Experience</strong></a> takes the tasting to a whole new level. Visitors will be able to choose from three different tour options and learn the origins, myths, ingredients and how to make the wonderful dish. Guests will get to try traditional haggis and/or vegetarian haggis and will receive a complimentary recipe pack and a souvenir Haggis Experience Certificate.

For more information on The Haggis Experience, visit


In September 2019, renowned chef, James Ferguson and partner Alethea Palmer moved from London to open <a><strong>The Kinneuchar Inn</strong></a> in Fife after an extensive four-year refurbishment of the traditional pub. The Kinneuchar Inn will retain the traditional pub area, which has long been at the centre of village life. The menu focuses on the integrity of the ingredients both wild and farmed sourced directly from the estate and producers nearby from locally caught fish, native breed meats and game and organically grown or foraged vegetables and fruit.

The Scottish Borders recently opened<strong> </strong><a href=”“><strong>Lemon and Thyme</strong></a> a fine-dining establishment in Kelso, a small market town serving local produce inspired by international flavours. They are open Tuesday to Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and offer exclusive use of their restaurant at lunch time and Monday and Sunday for parties of 10 or more people. 

10.<strong>The Loch Ness 360° Trail</strong>

After a relaxing walk, stay at the exclusive new hotel in Inverness, <a href=”“><strong>Ness Walk</strong></a>. Officially opened in July 2019the hotel embodies luxury Scotland. Originally a 19th century house, the historic Grade B listed building has been lovingly restored with keeping many of its period features.  

For more information on the Loch Ness 360° visit


It’s a great time to stay in Edinburgh with plenty of hotel openings in 2019 and 2020.

The <a href=””><strong>Market Street Hotel</strong></a> opened in Edinburgh’s Old Town in August 2019. Market Street Hotel features 98 urban boutique style rooms including one suite, as well as the highly anticipated champagne lounge, the Nor’ Loft. The hotel is also proud to be selected as the first member of Design Hotels™ in Scotland, a global organisation that recognises hotels with a passion for genuine, culturally rooted hospitality and cutting-edge design and architecture.

<strong>YOTEL Edinburgh</strong><strong>House of Gods Hote</strong>l<strong>Malmaison</strong>

In 2020, <a><strong>The Red Carnation Hotel Collection</strong></a> is to open a hotel in Scotland for the first time. The luxury hotel collection is respectfully renovating 100 Princes Street, transforming it into a highly exclusive retreat on one of Edinburgh’s most famous streets. With uninterrupted views of Edinburgh Castle, 100 Princes Street will replicate the boutique atmosphere of Forbes Five Star-rated sister property Hotel 41. 

<strong>Lateral City Apartments</strong>12. 

From November 2019 to April 2020 <a href=”“><strong>MacGregor’s Bar</strong></a> in Inverness will host a winter series of takeover celebrations called ‘Island Fling’ which feature the islands of Harris, Tiree, Shetland, Orkney, Lewis and Skye. The takeover events will take place over the next six months and will feature local distillers and businesses, live music and workshops throughout the entire day. MacGregor’s Bar is also the ‘spiritual’ home of the Inverness Whisky and Gin Festival, run a regular Highland Malt Whisky Experience and sister bar to multi-aware winning venue, Bogbain Farm


In September 2014 a metal detectorist came across an incredible discovery of <a href=”“><strong>the Galloway Hoard: Viking Age Treasure</strong></a> which laid undisturbed for a thousand years. Buried in the 10th century in <strong>Dumfries and Galloway</strong>, this rich Viking Age hoard contains more than 100 objects of silver jewellery, rare gold ingot and a range of precious metals, brooches, amulets and more. This is the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland. These objects will help understand hidden history and the stories from people of the past. The exhibition is planned for 29 May – 18 October 2020 and will tour Edinburgh, Kirkcudbright Galleries, The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum and Aberdeen Art Gallery.

For more information and to see the Galloway Hoard, visit


With an abundance of nature walks, yoga retreats and art relaxation holidays, Scotland is the perfect destination for wellness seekers.

<strong>Wild Art Scotland</strong>

For yoga-lovers, try the <a href=””><strong>Yoga and Mindfulness</strong></a> retreat with ecoYoga in Argyll from 30 April – 4 May. Discover the foundations of the Iyengar Yoga system and flow of Vinyasa. Or visit a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of <a href=”“><strong>Samye Ling</strong></a> in the South of Scotland which offers a range of meditation courses, yoga, Tai Chi and more. 

For more wellness holiday ideas visit

15. <strong>Saorsa 1875</strong>

For more vegan foodie experiences in Scotland visit


In June 2019, the National Trust for Scotland revealed its largest conservation project with<strong> </strong><a><strong>the Hill House Box</strong></a>. The structure is wrapped with world’s largest chainmail, with walkways zigzagging through the chimney pots. Owned by the Trust since 1982, the Hill House Box in Helensburgh is considered to be the finest example of domestic architecture by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. However, the building has been soaking up water like a sponge for over 115 years which is why the National Trust for Scotland came up with an innovative solution to project the building from any further water damage is truly remarkable. Onsite there is a new café and visitor centre so guests can learn more about Charles and Margaret Mackintosh and the Blackie family who the house was originally built for. The Hill House stands out amongst other Arts &amp; Craft and Art Nouveau houses in the UK because it has survived intact for so long. 

For more information on the Hill House visit:


The beautiful <a href=”“><strong>Craufurdland Estate</strong></a> in <strong>Fenwick</strong> has introduced a new tree-top coursed called <a href=”“><strong>Tree Top Trial</strong>.</a> It’s a tremendous addition to the already vast amount of activities the estate has including forest fitness, mountain bike trails, crate climbing, mud runs, archery and more. They also recently opened a new restaurant <a href=”“><strong>Laird’s Table</strong></a> that has been awarded a Taste of our Best accreditation. 

Explore by foot, forest bathing a Japanese form of nature therapy. <a href=””><strong>The Hermitage</strong></a> in <a href=”“><strong>Perthshire</strong></a> is a beautiful walk that was created in the 18th century by the 3rd Duke of Atholl and covers 33 acres. The forest features both conifer and deciduous trees, including on of Britain’s tallest Douglas fir trees. Rumour has it the duke used a canon to scatter the tree seeds!

Or hop on a quad trek with <a href=”“><strong>Cairngorm Quad Treks</strong></a> in Aviemore where visitors will be guided through beautiful views of rolling moorland and the woodlands of Cairngorms National Park. 


2020 is an exciting year for the <a href=””><strong>Shetland Folk Festival</strong></a> as it celebrates its <strong>40th year!  </strong>Head up to the festival from 30 April to 3 May in Shetland and ceilidh the night away at the most northerly Folk Festival in the UK. Listen to local Shetland and folk artists from Britain and beyond for one of the most entertaining festivals of the year. 

For more things to do in Shetland, visit


Events in Scotland are hot, really hot. Throughout 2020 visitors can enjoy a plethora of different fire festivals including the <a href=”“><strong>Samhuinn Fire Festival</strong></a> in Edinburgh to celebrate the Celtic New Year which happens to be what is more commonly recognised as Hallowe’en. The <a href=”“><strong>Beltane Fire Festival</strong></a><strong> </strong>to celebrate the return of the summer in April. Fend off evil spirits at the  <a href=”“><strong>Comrie Flambeaux</strong></a> in Perthshire or <a href=”“><strong>Stonehaven Fireballs</strong></a> in Aberdeenshire to welcome in the New Year. <a href=””><strong>Up Helly Aa</strong></a> in<strong> Shetland</strong> celebrates their Viking heritage on the last Tuesday of January for 24 hours. And the <a href=”“><strong>Burning of the Clavie</strong></a> in <strong>Moray Speyside</strong> which dates back to the 1750s and celebrates the New Year on the 11th of January when the Julian calendar was reformed in Britain. 

For more information on fire events in Scotland, visit

20. <strong>Lagg Distillery</strong>

For more information on the Lagg Distillery visit

Getting here

New Caledonian Sleeper trains launched in 2019: New carriages made their debut on the Lowlander route between London and Glasgow/Edinburgh. Highlander route is to follow shortly between London and Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. Book here:

New direct Loganair flights launched May 2019 – London Southend to Stornoway and Aberdeen. Book here:

For more of Year of Coasts and Waters, go toFor more Only in Scotland experiences, go to: 


This copy was correct at the time of going to press. VisitScotland cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information and accepts no responsibility for any error or misrepresentation.  All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or other damage caused by the reliance on the information contained herewith, or in the event of any company, individual or firm ceasing to trade, is hereby excluded

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20 New Attractions and Only in Scotland Experiences for 2020

Visit the most anticipated openings and enjoy uniquely Scottish activities in 2020

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