Winter in Scotland

Winter in Scotland- this means crackling fires, icy landscapes, culture, music and dance or cosy afternoons in pubs, with a delicious whisky to keep you warm inside. If you are really lucky, you may just catch a glimpse of the famous Northern Lights!

The last Tuesday in January is a big day on the Shetland Islands. This is when the annual “Up Helly Aa”- Festival is held in old Viking tradition, all over the island, to mark the end of the Christmas season. Replica of Viking boats are set ablaze and there are torch processions, dancing and partying until the early hours of the morning. This year, of course, there have been no public processions, the festival has been postponed until next year, for an even bigger celebration!

Whilst the mountain tops in the Highlands are often white as early as late September, January is the month with the biggest chance of snow for the rest of Scotland. This year, however, it was exceptionally cold and by the beginning of December, even the Lowlands were already dusted in snow. The Highlands even had a white Christmas! Because of the relatively warm Gulf Stream this is rare, in particular in the Western Highlands- but if it does happen it is a magical sight!

In particular in the current situation many people have taken to long walks through the wintery landscape. Frozen lochs, hills covered in snow and clear starry nights make this the perfect escape from everyday life, helping to re-charge the batteries. There have also been some sightings of Northern Lights this year. The long, dark nights and the strong geomagnetic activity make for a perfect climate to see this unique natural phenomenon. In rare cases, the mysterious green or purple lights have been spotted as far south as just outside of Edinburgh, but your best chances to experience them are certainly in the Highlands and Islands.

After a long day of hiking through the snow, a hot cup of tea (or whisky) in front of a roaring fire, in one of Scotland’s many cosy pubs, is the perfect remedy against the wintry cold. With a bit of luck there might even be a Ceilidh to really get your blood pumping. Pubs are also perfect to meet the locals and enjoy the famous Scottish hospitality. Hopefully this will soon be possible again, everybody in Scotland is very much looking forward to it!