12 Jun 19
The Best Scottish City Breaks
As well as the stunning countryside, Scotland has some of the best cities in Europe. If you're looking for a city break this summer, we've got lots of reasons why Scotland should be at the top if your list.
Where to stay: Hotel du Vin Edinburgh is off the Royal Mile and close to the National Museum of Scotland, and Fraser Suites Edinburgh is near Edinburgh Castle. Malmaison Edinburgh is in Leith's hip waterfront development so perfect for exploring galleries and eating out.
Edinburgh really is a festival city. From 2 to 26 August 2019 the Edinburgh International Festival transforms one of the world's most beautiful cities, presenting three exhilarating weeks of the finest creators and performers. The world's largest arts festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, is on the same dates. And there's also The Edinburgh Art Festival on for a month from 25 July to 25 August.
But even before these start, you can enjoy the Edinburgh International Film Festival from 19 to 30 June, indulge in the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival on 12-21 July or feel the rhythm of the Edinburgh Festival summer season at the eighth Edinburgh Festival Carnival on Sunday 14 July 2019.
This year's Edinburgh Castle Concerts has Paul Weller on 11 July, Kylie Minogue on 14 and 15 July and The Proclaimers on 20 and 21 July 2019. Also at the Castle, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is on from 2 to 24 August with a blend of music, ceremony, entertainment and theatre, hosting over 1,000 military and civilian performers every night. Or you can enjoy musical tribute legends at Summer Fiesta at The Ross Bandstand on Princes Street from 5 to 7 July.
If you're staying at Hotel du Vin, it's a short walk to The Palace of Holyroodhouse where you can see A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. On from 14 June to 6 October 2019, the exhibition includes the royal couple's wedding outfits.
If you're staying at Fraser Suites, it's worth going to the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh. There are daily garden walks available and glasshouse visits too. Or come for the open-air films as The Luna Cinema has three nights of classic movies here. A Star is Born is on 30 August, Bohemian Rhapsody is on 31 August and Sunshine on Leith is on 1 September.
And speaking of Leith, if you're staying at Malmaison Edinburgh you're not only close to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia but it's worth checking what's on at the recently reopened Leith Theatre. A highlight this summer is Neneh Cherry on 10 August as part of the International Festival.
Where to stay: Fraser Suites Glasgow has serviced apartments in a stunning Victorian building in the cultural quarter, Hotel du Vin Glasgow is in the West End and Malmaison Glasgow is close to Glasgow Central train station in a converted church.
A UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow hosts around 130 music events each week in venues ranging from the SSE Hydro to the Barrowland Ballroom. The World Pipe Band Championships take place every August on Glasgow Green. And by 'pipe band' we do mean Scottish bagpipes. This year the two-day competition is on 16-17 August showcasing the extraordinary ability of 8,000 pipers and drummers. Bagpipes can also be heard at more venues across the city for Piping Live! from 10 to 18 August.
For a different style of music, Glasgow Summer Sessions 2019 features headliners The Cure, Foo Fighters and The 1975 on 16, 17 and 25 August in Bellahouston Park. And Summer Nights at the Bandstand returns to Kelvingrove Park in the West End from 26 July to 10 August and includes performances from Bloc Party, Teenage Fanclub, Burt Bacharach, Suede and more. The bandstand sits between some of the city's most stunning buildings – Glasgow University and Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
Also at Kelvingrove Park, the Glasgow Mela is on 23 June. It's Scotland's biggest multi-cultural festival of music, dance, arts and food. This year it's exploring the Scottish-Asian and British-Asian experience, and transforming the Mela into a platform for activism through arts and culture, to nurture and grow local artists.
Pride Glasgow, Scotland's largest LGBT festival, returns on 17 and 18 August to its new home at the Riverside Museum. This year, Pride events across the world celebrate Stonewall 50, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York. And Glasgow's only beach is back at the Riverside Museum from 5 June to 31 August 2019. It's free and open every day.
The Women’s Tour of Scotland is a new annual global female cycling event and it's chosen Scotland as the backdrop for its very first event. Stage 2 on 10 August starts at George Square (close to Malmaison Glasgow) so get ready to cheer on the riders.
Where to stay: With fantastic sea views from Scotland's east coast, Hotel du Vin St Andrews is a few minutes walk from the golf course.
The annual St Andrews Highland Games is a fantastic day out. Events in Station Park include Heavy Weights, Tug-of-war, Solo Piping and Highland Dancing. Firmly established as one of the top highland games in Fife, the date this year is 28 July.
St Andrews Lammas Market is one of the oldest surviving medieval street fairs in the country and has attractions for all the family including fairground rides, market stalls and street food. On from 10 to 14 August, this is a true part of St. Andrews' local heritage.
And for the end of summer, the Alfred Dunhill Links Golf Championships are on 26-29 September 2019. One of the most prestigious tournaments on the European Tour, the Championship is played over three courses: the Old Course (St Andrews), the Championship Course, Carnoustie (near Dundee) and Kingsbarns (just south of St Andrews). An annual favourite with both locals and visitors to St Andrews, entrance to the championship is free on the first three days. (Tickets only need to be purchased for the final day.)
Where to stay: The summer days are near endless in this northern part of Scotland as the sun rises at 4am and sets at 10pm. Malmaison Aberdeen has a great central location in Scotland's Granite City.
Aberdeen Highland Games returns to Hazelhead Park on Sunday 16 June. It promises to be a day full of family entertainment including traditional Scottish Highland Games competitions, pipe band championships and solo piping competitions, as well as a funfair.
Whether you are already a confirmed gin lover, or just curious to explore the amazing range of traditional or trendy gins bursting onto the market, Aberdeen Gin Fest is where you can meet the producers behind the spirits. Raise a glass and dance the night away to great live music on 5, 6 and 7 July.
And the Aberdeen Art Fair on 30 August to 1 September offers a chance to buy a wide range of art, including work by renowned artists. AAF 2019 returns for its ninth year to the Aberdeen Music Hall which has re-opened following a multi-million pound refurbishment. For the first time in the event's history, admission to the art fair will be free of charge for adults and children.
Where to stay: Handily located on Dundee's up-and-coming waterfront along the River Tay, Malmaison Dundee is a two-minute walk from Dundee Station and within viewing distance of Discovery point and the V&A.
The theme for the 2019 Dundee Summer Streets Festival is exploration so it's the right time to get out and explore the city. The free activities and entertainment on 20-21 July include an aerial dance show in City Square, music playing on the street with The Sound of Dundee and wandering street performers.
At Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) you can catch an exhibition, film or talk. It was one of the venues that kick-started it all for Dundee in terms of cultural development. And as Dundee is the UNESCO City of Design, you'll want to visit the newly opened, architecturally stunning V&A Museum of Design Dundee. Showcasing the best of Scottish design, the waterfront museum also has Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt on until 8 September – an exhibition celebrating videogame design from Scotland, an international centre for the field (Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto were both created in Dundee), and around the world. Or go for the V&A Dundee Antiques Roadshow on Saturday 23 June to be part of one of the BBC's most popular programmes and get your treasured items valued by an expert.
Stage 1 of The Women’s Tour of Scotland (mentioned above for Glasgow) starts from Slessor Gardens in Dundee on Friday 9 August so you can cheer the riders on as they set out on the 350 km route across the country. If you then feel inspired, why not hire an electric bike to see more of the city?
Laura Porter - Travel Writer for Malmaison and Hotel du Vin