So many people bemoan January as a dreich but necessary month after Christmas when we’re all supposed to go dry, go vegan and generally have a very dull time. We disagree! For us, it’s the perfect time to see Stirling’s historical landmarks at their least busy, embrace Scotland’s stunning winter landscape, and finish the month with a wee dram for the Bard. Here’s how.

Blackness Castle, hosting Brick City in January

Historic Blackness Castle, hosting Brick City this January

Lego in a historic venue - the perfect family day out this winter

Lego in a historic venue – the perfect family day out this winter

Castles ­– with extras

In the winter months, Historic Environment Scotland works hard to keep visitor numbers up by adding extra enticements included in your admission price, or free to Historic Scotland members. For example, at Stirling Castle, you can not only breathe in the sights and history of this Scottish landmark, but immerse yourself in the wonders of LEGO® too! Open until 23 January, the Brick Wonders exhibition features recreations in LEGO® bricks of sights from around the world, curated by artist Warren Elsmore. Beginning with the seven wonders of the ancient world, the exhibition also takes in modern, natural and historic wonders from all continents. For more information, visit: https://www.stirlingcastle.scot/whatson/events/brick-wonders/

And if you miss that one, or just can’t get enough Lego, you can visit Brick City at Blackness Castle until 24 March. While Outlander fans will be blown away by spending a day in the film location that doubled as Fort William, their kids will love seeing iconic buildings from cities around the world, recreated in LEGO® bricks. Again, it’s all part of your ticket. For more information, visit: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/whats-on/

Wildlife with historic backdrops

If you are someone who loves nature whatever the weather, you’ll love the Winter Wildlife Workshop at Blackness Castle on 13 January, included in admission price. Visit the Castle, then enjoy a bid of bird-spotting on the beach before heading to the visitor centre. There, you and the family can create a bird feeder, bird box, or minibeast home to take away. Again, it’s all included in your ticket price, or free to members. For more information, visit: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/whats-on/

If you miss that date, and enjoy a bracing winter walk, where better to do it than in the stunning surrounds of Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots? On Sunday 10 February, enjoy a guided walk round Linlithgow Loch with a local ranger, who will offer insights into the wildlife of the Palace, loch and grounds. Outlander fans will also relish this view of the Palace, used as a backdrop for Wentworth prison in the series. The walk is free, but you need to book. For more information, visit: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/whats-on/event/

Celebrate Rabbie Burns

Want to celebrate Burns Night, but don’t know where to start? The Ghillie Dhu in Edinburgh will take care of absolutely everything for you. Take the 50-minute train ride from Stirling and head to Rutland Place, where the Ghillie Dhu staff will welcome you with an arrival dram before you’re seated for dinner in their splendid auditorium. The haggis will be piped in, with all the traditional readings and toasts. Throughout dinner, there’s live Scottish folk music, and afterwards, you can dance the night away with a proper Scottish ceilidh. Tickets are available for 18 January to 27 January. And if you prefer a more-low key Burns knees-up, the Main Bar offers its normal menu alongside a toast to the haggis and live piper from Thursday to Sunday. That’s Burns Night sorted! For more information: http://ghillie-dhu.co.uk/burns-night/

Learn about Scotland's wildlife at Blackness Castle and Linlithgow Palace

Learn about Scotland’s wildlife at Blackness Castle and Linlithgow Palace

Dance the night away in honour of the Bard

Dance the night away in honour of the Bard

Photo credits: Blackness Castle: Dr John Wells [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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