Monthly Archives: October 2014

Scotland Receives Record Number of Foreign Tourists in 2014

According to ScotlandNow, in 2014 a record number of foreign tourists visited Scotland in the first six months of 2014, with 1,118,000 international visits from January to June. The all time high is no wonder, though, when you take a look at the recent article published by Rough Guides of some spectacular Scottish highlights that are sure to keep visitors coming back again and again!

“Things Not to Miss in Scotland”

Eigg, Scotland, the perfect example of a tiny, friendly Hebridean island with a golden beach to lie on, a hill to climb and stunning views across the sea. Find out more:, one of the Small Isles in the Scottish Inner Hebrides

We hope you enjoy Rough Guides’s collection of breathtaking photos of Scottish scenery and landmarks…what gorgeous inspiration for Scottish travels!

Some highlights include…

The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, an eclectic and impressive museum, is an ideal place to wander and take in the sights of medieval artifacts and art works, Impressionist works, modern sculptures, and stained glass.

The Burrell Collection

Glen Coe (meaning “Weeping Valley”), a heartwrenchingly beautiful glen near Fort William. Nearly uninhabited, the area is perfect for hiking and exploring.

Glen Coe

Scottish Pubs — After a long day of walking and exploring Scotland’s gorgeous scenery, a visit to one of its cozy pubs is the perfect way to unwind.

Bow Bar in Edinburgh

The South Harris Beaches, on the Atlantic coast, with picturesque golden sand and bright turquoise waters, are a glorious place to spend a peaceful afternoon.

The South Harris Beaches


Scotland Named “Manliest Country” in the World

According to a survey conducted by men’s grooming brand The Bluebeards Revenge, Scotland has been named the “manliest nation” in the world.

Sir Sean Connery, voted ‘The Greatest Living Scot,’ ‘Scotland’s Greatest Living National Treasure,’ People magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ of 1989 and in 1999, at age 69, ‘Sexiest Man of the Century.’

Scotland pulled in 26% of the vote to take the lead, with Australia taking second place with 16% and England taking third with 15%.

Bluebeards Revenge spokesperson Nick Gibbens said of the result, “When you look at the landscape, you know Scotland breeds a manly population. Geologically speaking, it is ancient, combining mountains, wilderness and Arctic landscape.

“Some of the toughest sports in the world are also played here. Who can overlook the Great Putt of the Inverness Stone at The Highland Games or the sport of Munro-Bagging that attracts only the brave and the hardy?

“Biking, hunting, sailing, and countless other manly sports are played here, often in adverse weather conditions that would deter the most avid sportsman.

“Scotland also produces around 90 per cent of all SAS members and is home to the deep fried mars bar, making it a very deserving winner of this coveted title.”

Kelpies Site Wins Scottish Engineering Award

The Kelpies sculptures of Falkirk, Scotland’s newest cultural landmark, have recently been awarded national honors.

The Kelpies recieved the prestigious honor of being named the winner of the Saltire Society 2014 Civil Engineering Award.

Other nominations for the award included the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Waverly Train Station Renewals in Edinburgh, the Shore Road Bridge Reconstruction, and the Glentarken Bridge. The award, first given in 1981, was established to showcase and honor the greatest achievements in Scottish engineering.

Convenor of the awards panel, Gordon Pomphrey, said: “There is no doubt that the Kelpies have quickly become another iconic must-see visitor attraction and will be an internationally recognised landmark for many years to come.”

Created by artist Andy Scott, the 30 meter horse head sculptures reside in Helix Park, while the Kelpies Maquettes, two sets of 1:10 scale models of the larger sculptures, rotate locations, having been displayed locally in Scotland and internationally.

ASF is proud to have helped bring the Kelpies Maquettes to Bryant Park during New York Scotland Tartan Week 2014.

The Kelpies Maquettes in Bryant Park

Top 10 Geological Sites in the UK Include Glencoe, Staffa, and Assynt in Scotland

Members of the public chose the sites they felt had most shaped the heritage of the United Kingdom.

Adventurous: Staffa in the Inner Hebrides, a volcanic island
Staffa, an island of the Inner Hebrides

The sites were among the “geosites” —  places that highlight the importance of geology to human civilization, such as a beautiful landscape, a museum, or historical historical site — chosen by the Geological Society of London that were celebrated as part of UK Earth Science Week (October 13-19). The top 10 list was selected by 1,200 members of the public from the Geological Society’s list of 100 geocites in the UK and Ireland.


The list is divided into ten categories, including landscape, sites of scientific importance, and human habitations. Glencoe was selected in the “Fire and Ice” category, Staffa in the “Adventurous” category, and Assynt in the “Landscape” category.


To view photos of all ten locations, click here.

“Pipes of Christmas” Concerts Return for 16th Season

One of ASF’s favorite holiday traditions, The Pipes of Christmas Concert, will take place this year on Saturday, December 20 at 2 PM and 7 PM at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York and on Sunday, December 21 at 2 PM at the Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, New Jersey. Tickets are now on sale for the 16th season of the concert series.

Pipes of Christmas

The  wonderful sound of bagpiped Christmas music will be accompanied by Celtic literature readings from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Featured performers will include James Robinson from the film Braveheart, New England fiddle champion Paul Woodiel, “Riverdance” piper and flutist Christopher Layer, Gaelic Mod champion harpist Jennifer Port, and the Pipe Major Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band.

Produced by the Clan Currie Society, proceeds from the concert series will donate to a music scholarship program that helps support organizations such as the National Piping Centre and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The concert series is sure to be a festive way to celebrate the season in true Scottish style.

To order tickets, visit the Pipes of Christmas homepage here.

If you can not attend the concert series, a CD is available featuring the Best of the Pipes of Christmas. To purchase, click here.

Third Annual Book Week Scotland this November

From November 24-30, hundreds of free literary events will take place across Scotland.


Led by the Scottish Book Trust, the third annual Book Week will feature readings with acclaimed Scottish authors including James RobinsonChristopher Brookmyre, Caro Ramsay, Maggie Craig, and many others. Literary festivities, including many historically-inspired events, musical events, and events for Gaelic speakers, will take place throughout the country, and many copies of free books will be distributed at Scottish libraries and bookshops.

150,000 free copies of the short story and poem collection Scotland’s Stories From Home will be distributed throughout the week, and every 5-6 year old in the country will be given three free books from the shortlist for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2015.

To peruse the schedule of events and find out which ones are taking place near you, click here.

Edinburgh Castle has a Record-Breaking Summer

The castle is Scotland’s top paid-for tourist attraction.

Edinburgh CastleEdinburgh Castle

Between June and September 2014, Edinburgh Castle had a record-breaking 767,566 visitors, a 3% increase since last summer.

Other Historic Scotland sites also saw great rises in visitor numbers this summer. Skara Brae and Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces in Orkney both had 11% increases; Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle also had record-breaking numbers of visitors.

All in all, over 2.1 million people visited a Historic Scotland site between June and September of 2014, a 4% increase in the previous record.

Fiona Hyslop, Culture Secretary, commented, “2014 was a memorable summer for Scotland – with an influx of visitors to events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup as well as a whole host of Homecoming related events taking place up and down the country. Our heritage sites played a key role within this and continue to be a constant and hugely important asset at the heart of our tourism and cultural make-up.”

Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness

To read more, click here.

Millennium-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Discovered in Scotland

Experts say the discovery of Viking gold and silver artifacts could be the most significant in Scotland’s history.

An early medieval cross, part of a hoard of Viking treasure which has been unearthed by metal-detecting enthusiast Derek McLennan in one of the most significant finds of its kind ever made in Scotland.
A silver early-medieval cross, one of the findings unearthed in the impressive treasure hoard

In September, Derek McLennan, a retired businessman, discovered 100 gold and silver items in a field with a metal detector in Dumfriesshire, southwest Scotland.  The items turned out to be Viking artifacts over a thousand years old.

Among the items discovered is a solid silver cross, presumably from the 9th or 10th century, a silver pot of western European origin, a rare silver cup from the Holy Roman Empire, a gold bird pin, and several other objects. The collection is the largest to be found in Scotland since the late 1800s and could be worth over £1,000,000.

In a statement, Scotland’s Treasure Trove unit said, “Experts have begun to examine the finds, but it is already clear that this is one of the most significant Viking hoards ever discovered in Scotland.”

The head of the unit, Stuart Campbell, added, “What makes this find so significant is the range of material from different countries and cultures. This was material that was buried for safekeeping, almost like a safety deposit box that was never claimed.”

Mr. McLennan is no novice to treasure hunting; last year, he and a friend uncovered approximately 300 medieval coins in the same area of the country.

Caerlaverock Castle in Caerlaverock, Scotland, near the site where the Viking artifacts were discovered in September 2014

For more information on the discovery, click here.


Reasons You Should Fall in Love with a Scottish Person

“24 Reasons You Should Fall in Love with a Scottish Person.”   

 We hope you enjoy Buzzfeed’s recently insightful article…

At weddings you either get to wear a kilt, or be the date of a man in a kilt.

Some highlights include…

“They’ll bring you Tunnock’s from the source.”

“They might buy you a macaroni pie.”

“At weddings you either get to wear a kilt, or be the date of a man in a kilt.”

“No matter what they say, their voice will sound amazing.”

“Of course, they’re also very easy on the eye.”


We quite agree! Wise logic, Buzzfeed.

Enchanted Forest 2014 at Faskally Wood

The award-winning annual Enchanted Forest event at Faskally Wood in Perthshire is now open through 26th of October.

Each year, with light and sound, the already gorgeous setting of Faskally Wood is transformed into a magnificent display of sensory enchantment.

Each year’s forest has a different theme – this year’s theme is “elemental,” and features the creative talents of Kate Bonney, Simon Hayes, RJ McConnell, and Jon Beales.  The show features special attractions including a troupe of aerial artists from All or Nothing who perform amidst the tree tops, as well as a storytelling yurt.

Food and beverages will also be available.

In the past, the Enchanted Wood has won numerous awards, including the Event Management Grand Prix, Best Cultural Event and a commendation for Best Large Event at the Scottish Event Awards 2011, and the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce Business Star Award for Event of the Year.


To book tickets for the event, click here. To see VisitScotland‘s new video on the magic of Perthshire, click here.