Easter is coming – get ready!

Easter. Scotland bursts into bloom and the days are noticeably longer. It’s time for getting outdoors, and catching up with the kids now the school term has finished. To help you plan an Easter to remember, we’ve rounded up the best family events throughout Stirlingshire, with a healthy dose of history, too.

Boness and Kinneil Steam trains
You’ll have Easter fun at Boness & Kinneil Steam Railway
Hunt for Easter eggs at Culross Palace, Fife

Hunt for Easter eggs at Culross Palace, Fife

Easter Egg Special Trains at Boness and Kinneil Railway

The railway’s popular Easter Egg special trains run on Friday 10, Saturday 11, Easter Sunday 12 April and Monday 13 April. There’s a free tasty chocolate treat for every child, a journey by steam through the spring countryside and fun in the Museum hunting for Easter eggs. You can even pre-book Fish & Chips for Friday evening 10 April or Afternoon Tea on a Steam Train on Monday 13 April. Stay all day and explore the Museum, Model Railway and the railway site via the Visitor Trail at Bo’ness and the stations along the line. For more information, see: https://www.bkrailway.co.uk/your-visit/events/

Cadbury Egg Hunts with National Trust

Cadbury have teamed up with the National Trust for Scotland again this year to create  Egg Hunts in some of Scotland’s most historic settings. Chocolate and culture, combined! The nearest hunts to Stirling take place from Good Friday to Easter Monday at The Battle of Bannockburn Centre, Alloa Tower in Clackmannanshure, and Culross Palace, Fife. Events are included in the normal admission price. Check your chosen venue’s Egg Hunt dates and other postcodes on the Cadbury website, where you’ll also find lots of free downloads for fun Easter activities at home: https://easter.cadbury.co.uk/

Easter Eggsplorer Trails with Historic Scotland

Not to be outdone, Historic Scotland’s Easter Eggsplorer Trails take place at a number of iconic castles, abbeys, forts and palaces throughout Scotland. All you need to do is find the clues and complete the challenge to be a winner. Drop-in throughout the day, and the events are included in normal admission. Free to members. The nearest participating venue to Stirling is Linlithgow Palace, from Good Friday to Easter Monday, but you can search for other venues here: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/whats-on/event/?eventId=297608b0-3502-4fde-9195-a6cc00fa3d0c

Step into Spring at the Wallace Monument

Stirling’s National Wallace Monument is buzzing with activity for families over the Easter weekend! Follow the story of Sir William Wallace, patriot, martyr, and Guardian of Scotland in three exhibition galleries, then listen to costumed actors performing Tales from the Battlefield, transporting you back to one of the most dramatic periods in Scottish history. Step outside and come face-to-face with owls, falcons, hawks and kestrels from Alba Falconry’s sanctuary and learn about the birds of prey during the static display. And if that isn’t enough fun – step into the Visitor Reception Centre and have your face painted for free! https://www.nationalwallacemonument.com/ht_event/step-into-spring-at-the-national-wallace-monument/

Step into spring at the Wallace Monument

Step into spring at the Wallace Monument

Whatever your plans, have a happy Easter!

Whatever your plans, have a happy Easter!

Photo credits: 

  • Boness & Kinneil Railway: By Thomas Nugent [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Culross Palace: By Palickap (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Wallace Monument: Kindly supplied by Ken Thomson, NWM. 

A Scottish Twist on Valentine’s Day

Dramatic and romantic, there are some stunning waterfalls just a stone’s throw from Stirling. And, what’s more, did you know of the old Scots tradition that a couple may exchange wedding vows and swap bibles over running water to declare their lifelong love? Well, there’s a Valentine’s Day out with a difference. And if you are looking for a convenient watercourse, here you are!

 Bracklinn Falls, Callander, a well-known waterfall which now has a new footbridge over it (not pictured)
Bracklinn Falls, Callander
The Falls of Leny, Kilmahog
The Falls of Leny, Kilmahog

Bracklinn Falls, Callander (15 miles from Stirling)

Located in the woods just above the beautiful town of Callander (worth a visit in its own right), Bracklinn Falls is a spectacular stepped waterfall best viewed from the vantage point just above the cascade. Queen Victoria is said to have visited here, and it’s not hard to see why. For the easiest walk, park your car in the Falls car park about halfway up Bracklinn Road, then follow the footpath up to the falls and the new bridge. For details on this short walk, and others, see here: https://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/things-to-do/walking/short-moderate-walks/bracklinn-falls-circuit/

Falls of Leny, Kilmahog (17 Miles from Stirling)

If you are visiting Callander to see the Bracklinn Falls, be sure to take in the Falls of Leny too, near the village of Kilmahog, just north-west of Callander in the Trossachs National Park. This is a great falls to see if any of your party have mobility problems – there is a car park at the falls, and cyclists can even get right up to the falls too. This is a narrow-gorged waterfall, so is particularly dramatic after heavy rain. For its location see: http://www.visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/falls-of-leny-p662861#location. The more adventurous can walk there from Callander itself, a distance of around five miles: http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/outdoors/walk-of-the-week-callander-to-falls-of-leny-1-3182009

Loup of Fintry, near Fintry (17 miles from Stirling)

Close to Stirling, the Loup of Fintry waterfall is on the River Endrick and lies just two miles from Fintry village. At 94ft high, this spectacular waterfall is best seen after rain or snow, as the Endrick River also feeds the Carron Reservoir. You can find the waterfall signposted two miles East of Fintry on the B818 Denny Road. For location see: http://www.visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/loup-of-fintry-p669471#location

Pots of Gartness, Killearn, (22 miles from Stirling)

To the west of Killearn you will find Pots of Gartness, a series of stepped rocky waterfall pools whose natural ladder makes for spectacular salmon-watching in October and November. On the Endrick water like the Loup of Fintry, these falls once powered a mill, still visible in ruins alongside the former mill-worker dwellings. To reach the Falls by car, take the A81 Glasgow-Aberfoyle road, signposted for The Wishing Well. There is roadside parking just before the bridge. For location, see: http://www.visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/pots-of-gartness-p669461#location

Find More Stunning Landscapes Around Stirling

These are just a handful of the many stunning waterfalls to see in Scotland, handpicked because they are closest to Stirling. For information on other natural spectacles, see: https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/landscapes-nature/

 

The Endrick Water, on which can be found the Loup of Fintry and Pots of Gartness waterfalls
The Endrick Water, on which can be found the Loup of Fintry and Pots of Gartness waterfalls
Photo credits:

  • Bracklinn Falls: Thomas Stenhouse [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Falls of Leny: Colin Smith [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Endrick Water: Louise Harris [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Carron Reservoir: Scotia [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Get ready for spring – it’s coming!

With January almost over, we’re turning our minds to spring. Make the most of these events around Stirling to get outdoors and welcome the new season with open arms!

Help out wildlife at Blackness Castle this February
Help out wildlife at Blackness Castle this February
Blackness Castle also appears in Outlander

Blackness Castle also appears in Outlander

Help out wildlife

On 8 February, drop into Blackness Castle near Linlithgow. This 15th-century fortress looks out over the Firth of Forth and appeared as Fort William in series one of TV show Outlander. During your visit you’ll be able to give wildlife a vital helping hand by making a bird feeder, bird box, or minibeast home to take away. The workshop is perfect for families and is included in your admission price, so is free to Historic Environment Scotland members. For more information: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/blackness-castle/

Reconnect with nature

For spring flowers, emerging bulbs and early blossom, take a leisurely stroll through Bridge of Allan’s beautiful Memorial Park, near the entrance to the University of Stirling. From there, circle the University of Stirling’s Airthrey loch to spot snowdrops, daffodils, and nesting wildfowl – those who love to dote on a fluffy chick or three won’t be disappointed, even this early in the year. Entrance to the University is free, and parking starts at £1. Enjoy lunch in the Macrobert Arts Centre, where it’s well worth picking up an events brochure too. For more information, see: https://macrobertartscentre.org/whatson/

Eat local spring flavours

Everyone is telling us to eat local, eat plant-based, and eat in season, and it’s true; eating what grows locally is best both for us and for the planet. February, March and April will bring asparagus, beetroot, cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, spring greens, swede and a whole lot more besides. To buy straight from the grower, have a browse round Stirling Farmers’ Market, held on the first Saturday of every month in Port Street, Stirling. What’s more, they even post a list of stallholders in the days preceding on this Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stirling-Farmers-Market/142864599058772, so you can plan both your shop and your menu. You will find not only fresh veg produce but preserves, meats, fish, breads, cheeses and traditional crafts too. There are plenty other markets nearby if you’re out and about: Falkirk holds its Farmers Market on the first Friday of each month in the High Street, while Linlithgow sets up its stalls on the fourth Saturday of every month, in the Vennel. For more details on all these: http://www.scottishfarmersmarkets.co.uk/

Surround yourself in snowdrops

Snowdrops sum up everything that’s good about spring – they are delicate but bold and lift our hearts after the long dark winter. To celebrate their arrival, many of Scotland’s best gardens and woodlands come together to offer visitors and locals a range of fabulous events that collectively make up the Scottish Snowdrop Festival. The festival this year runs from 25 January to 11 March, and includes over 70 events, so you have no excuse to miss it! For more information, visit: http://discoverscottishgardens.org/

Eat local, and in season, at a farmers market near you

Eat plant-based, local, seasonal

Celebrate spring with the snpowdrop festival

Celebrate snowdrops from January to March

Photo credits: Blackness Castle pic source: Wikimedia commons

Christmas dates to book right now!

Many of the Christmas events around Stirling are so good, and so very popular, that they sell out fast. So why not take just ten minutes right now to book a few events in advance, then sit back and relax! After all, it’s only October!

Dance the night away at Stirling's Christmas and Hogmanay ceilidhs

Dance the night away at Stirling’s Christmas and Hogmanay ceilidhs

Macrobert's panto extravaganza is bolder and brighter than ever

Macrobert’s panto extravaganza is bolder and brighter than ever

Rapunzel: A Hair-braiding Adventure                                           

The annual Macrobert Panto Extravaganza sells tickets like hot-cakes, so it’s wise to choose your dates now. This year’s panto is written by, directed by and starring the fabulous Johnny McKnight in ‘Rapunzel: A Hair-braiding Adventure’. Poor Rapunzel’s been locked up in a tower her entire life with no telly, no Wi-Fi and no dry shampoo! But she has dreams – of walking barefoot around the mythical land they call Tullibody, of meeting her one true love and singing a love duet, and of getting her hair cut. But one day the lonely Rapunzel has a surprising visit in her tower – Prince Rocco is armed and dangerous with a pair of scissors and a plan. The show runs 22 Nov to 31 Dec. For more information, visit: https://macrobertartscentre.org/event/rapunzel-a-hair-braiding-adventure/

Santa Steam Trains

The fabulous Santa Steam Train at Boness & Kinneil Railway (30 Nov to 22 Dec) is a magical day out for everyone in the family. And tickets sell out very fast, so do book now! Board the steam train, don your antlers, and enjoy the entertainment on board from musicians, carollers and magicians before a visit from Santa himself. Presents for the children and mince pies galore. What could be better? For more information, visit: https://www.bkrailway.co.uk/your-visit/santa-trains/

Family Christmas Ceilidhs

The Tolbooth Christmas ceilidhs on 14 December are such a popular date in Stirling’s Christmas calendar, that they draw visitors from all around and sell out quickly. But what better way to spend the lead up to Christmas than celebrating the festive season with friends and family in traditional Scottish style? Don’t worry if you’ve never been to a ceilidh before, a caller will talk you through the dances and ensure a fun time for all. The afternoon ceilidh is particularly good for families with children, while the evening ceilidh is perfect for those who want to dance the night away. For more information, visit: https://stirlingevents.org/tolbooth-event/family-christmas-ceilidh/ and https://stirlingevents.org/tolbooth-event/evening-christmas-ceilidh/

Carols at the Castle

Get festive at Stirling Castle on 15 December with a spot of mulled wine and the National Youth Choir of Scotland, as the Castle prepares to Deck the Halls with an evening of Christmas Carols in the Great Hall. A traditional, atmospheric, and memorable night for the lead up to Christmas. And there’s a discount for Historic Scotland members. But don’t delay buying tickets! For more information, visit: https://www.stirlingcastle.scot/whatson/events/carols-at-the-castle/

Phil Cunningham’s Christmas Songbook      

Couldn’t get tickets for Carols at the Castle? Then join Phil Cunningham and friends at the Albert Halls instead, for his annual festive bonanza on 15 December. An undisputed highlight of the Albert Halls’ programme last year, Phil, John McCusker, Ian Carr, Kevin McGuire and the songbook brass band perform a heady mix of favourite classics and contemporary carols and tunes. For more information, visit: https://stirlingevents.org/albert-halls-event/phil-cunninghams-christmas-songbook/

A Christmas Carol              

It’s just not Christmas without this one! On 20-22 December, Stirling Castle is proud to present a magical adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic ‘A Christmas Carol’, brought to you by Chapterhouse Theatre Company in the Castle’s Great Hall. Cosy up with your mince pie and mulled wine as Scrooge’s frozen heart begins to melt and he finally embraces the festive spirit. 10% discount for Historic Scotland members, too. For more information, visit: https://www.stirlingcastle.scot/whatson/events/a-christmas-carol/

Hogmanay Ceilidh

Stirling’s signature Hogmanay event is the Hogmanay Ceilidh at the Albert Hall, Stirling on 31 December. So, book early to avoid disappointment. With dinner and dancing led by Ian McCallum and his band, entertainment and a full bar, there really is no better place to see in the New Year. Co-hosts Anita MacKenzie and John Wilkinson, with dancers from The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, will provide a warm welcome to make sure that you bring in 2020 with a smile. For more information, visit: https://stirlingevents.org/albert-halls-event/hogmanay-ceilidh/

Will you meet Santa on steam train?
Will you meet Santa on a steam train?
Get into the Christmas spirit with carols at the castle

Get into the Christmas spirit with carols at the castle

Halloween fun in Stirling

Whether you’re someone who’d love the thrill of a ghost walk and a pint in a haunted bar, or you’re a parent of little ones who’d much prefer simply carving a pumpkin, there’s plenty to do in Stirling over Halloween!

Stirling is the perfect place to enjoy Halloween
Stirling is the perfect place to enjoy Halloween
Kids are Potty about Pumpkins at Dobbies this October

Kids are Potty about Pumpkins at Dobbies this October

Halloween activities at Dobbies

Families will love the ‘Halloween Spooktacular’ at Dobbies, Stirling. Kids can get stuck into terrifying treats from their family Afternoon Tea before getting creative with creepy craft activities and ghoulish games. Each event will hold a fancy-dress competition, so make sure your little ones wear their most Spooktacular fancy dress costume to be in with a chance of winning a prize. To book tickets (hurry!) see: https://www.dobbies.com/

Also, look out for free ‘Little Seedlings’ workshops at Dobbies during the October break, when kids can go ‘Potty About Pumpkins’. Suitable for kids from 4 to 10 years, each workshop lasts an hour and will include guided activities and learning, games, and hands-on fun. Although this is free, booking is essential. And take a look at the November events, too! For more information, see: https://hub.dobbies.com/events/upcoming-events/little-seedlings-october-holiday-club-were-potty-about-pumpkins!/

Explore haunted Stirling

Stirling Ghost Walks promise ‘fear, fun and frights for all the family’ for those who want to explore the haunted nooks and crannies of Stirling itself. Costumed actors bring comedy, drama and storytelling together to breathe life into Stirling’s ancient Old Town and its grisly past. Meet the City’s many ghosts, from Blind Alick Lyon to the Black Lady, spirits in what was once described as ‘the most densely populated supernatural square mile in all of Scotland’. The ghost walks will appeal to all ages, and take in many of Stirling’s most historic sites, from John Cowane’s Hospital to the Beheading Stone, Argyll’s Lodging and Stirling Castle.  For details and tickets, see: http://www.stirlingghostwalk.com/

Stirling Walks offer daytime tours of Stirling, with all the fun, drama and history, but a lot less of the ‘fear and ‘frights’! Gor a brilliant guided tour of Stirling Old Town by day (with not a ghost in sight!), book a tour with Stirling Walks at https://stirlingwalkingtours.com/

Have a pint with a ghost

Nicky-Tam’s Bar and Bothy is not only the second-oldest pub in Stirling, it claims to be the most haunted. Renovations in 1999 were fraught with reports of apparitions and unsettling events after a photograph of what looked like a clergyman was discovered, walled into the fabric of the building. Clairvoyants visited the site three times over 1999 and 2000, and claimed that there were a number of spirits present in the building; some benign, and one more aggressive presence, perhaps the clergyman in the photo. While the events have not been fully explained, Nicky-Tams still attracts both ghost-hunters and those simply looking for home-cooked food, good beer, and great live events. If you’re thirsty on your way up to Stirling Castle – stop by for a drink – you might just spot a ghost too. For more information, see: http://www.nickytams.com/

Have a Halloween pint in Nicky Tam's

Have a Halloween pint in Nicky Tam’s

Let Stirling Ghost Walks guide you this Halloween

Let Stirling Walking Tours guide you through Stirling

Photo credits:

Stirling Movie Map: build your own film location holiday!

Have you ever dreamed of organising a location trip to Scotland to visit the places where your favourite film or TV show was filmed? Or are you a local who wonders which movies or shows have been made near you and would like to take a selfie at the very spot where Chris Pine once stood? Well now you can!

Stirling movie map launch
Stuart Oliver, Stirling Council’s Senior Manager, Economic Development, Culture and Tourism; Cllr Evelyn Tweed; Audrey Jones, Head of New Business at Historic Environment Scotland (HES); Shona Menzies from HES at Doune Castle.
Diana Gabaldon and Ronald D Moore at the NY premier of Outlander
Author Diana Gabaldon and Ronald D. Moore at the New York premiere of Outlander
Stirling Council has recently launched the Stirling Film Location Map – a handy route planner for visitors and locals alike, with suggested itineraries and brilliant facts about the top Stirling locations that have hit our screens.

The Outlander effect

Amongst these are Doune Castle, which appears as Castle Leoch in the TV series Outlander and is also the original Winterfell in the pilot episode of Game of Thrones. Its appearance in these series has resulted in a huge surge of visits to the castle. Coined ‘The Outlander Effect’ – the castle has seen an amazing 226.5% increase in footfall since the Outlander series began.

A sought-after location

Other film locations you’ll find in the leaflet include Stirling Castle, Deanston Distillery, Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park, Loch Katrine, The Trossachs, Loch Venachar, East Loch Lomond and Mugdock Country Park. They have played roles in films such as Outlaw King (2018), The Eagle (2011), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Ivanhoe (1952), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) The Angel’s Share (2012), Rob Roy (1953), and Mary Queen of Scots (2018).

Selfie time

Stirling Councillor Alison Laurie said: “While film fans are already flocking to locations across Stirling, this new map will make it easier for them to see more of our magnificent landmarks, picturesque towns and villages and beautiful countryside.

“Whether you want to take a selfie in the place where Chris Pine went into battle as Robert the Bruce in Outlaw King, see the home of the Stark family in Game of Thrones or relive where King Arthur and his band of merry knights were taunted by French soldiers in Monty Python and the Holy Grail – now you’ll know exactly where to go and how to fit it all in!”

Get your map

The film location map can be downloaded from the Stirling Council website and is available on the Explore Stirling App. It can also be picked up at tourist sites across Stirling, including those featured on the guide.

Photo credits:

  • Outlander Premiere: By Christine Ring [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Stirling Council/Doune Castle: Photography by Whyler Photos of Stirling www.whylerphotos.com – 01786 474340