This time around, I want to get you all prepped for festival season. No, not
that festival season; you can get yer T in the Parks and Glastonburys ‘tae’, as far as I’m concerned. No, I am talking about the spring-to-autumn period in which we see a flurry of events where we get to celebrate, taste and consume the finest drinks we can collate into one, giant room.
This kind of festival is better than the other kind in so many ways. They’re cheaper to get into, and easier to get to – you can very often find one in or around your own neck of the woods. They are cleaner, as they happen indoors, with no mud, tents and chemical toilets. They are more sociable, because you can usually hear what those around you are saying, and you can understand it too – invariably no one around you is any more ‘off their face’ than you are (provided you all drink responsibly now, children!). What’s not to like?
Festivals tend to be more freeform than tastings, with scope to get what you want out of them whether you are there for some serious drinks education, or whether you are looking to enjoy a few tasty morsels in pursuit of more corporal pleasures. What you can guarantee is an unstuffy environment with everyone there because they want to be, and plenty of expertise on offer if you want it! Something for everyone, as such.
The only drawback is that while Scottish drinks festivals are great for local produce, such as beer and whisky, there aren’t so many focused on wine these days. Lots of specialist retailers still do local wine events from time to time, so you should ask yours. For example, Oddbins - who used to run an awesome annual festival in Edinburgh (sadly no more, sniff sniff) - are running a free mini-festival in all of their branches on the evening of Thursday, March 28 but sadly, really large wine festivals are surprisingly few and far between. More’s the shame, really!
However, you can barely move for regional beer and whisky festivals. I’ll list a few here, but this is by no means a comprehensive list - there are loads out there, so do your homework.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the Herald is launching its first craft beer event in Glasgow on Sunday, March 24. Hosted by the Herald’s own venerable Tom Bruce-Gardyne, this will offer up both the requisite educational recreational joys that festivals do so well, and would provide a great start to your festival calendar. For more information click
In Edinburgh there is the ever popular
(August 9-11 tbc) organised by Royal Mile Whiskies. Held right in the middle of the Edinburgh Fringe, tickets are like bloomin’ gold dust - and well known for selling out in minutes after release, so good luck with that one! Whisky Fringe
For a slightly more relaxed atmosphere,
The Glasgow Whisky Festival (November 16) has been going strong for a few years now, and offers a great way to warm the cockles right as the nights are drawing in. And outside of the cities, there’s Whisky, An’ A’ That in Ayr (June 1), now in its tenth year and not to be put off by its big brothers, it regularly puts on over 150 drams. Zing!
If you are up for travelling, and are more into events-driven festivals don’t forget that there are festivals held in whisky-producing areas too. The
(May 24-June 1) and the Islay Festival of Music and Malt (May 2-6) have jam-packed calendars, alongside the amazing countryside that their locales afford them (but book early for accommodation!). Spirit of Speyside Festival
If beer is your tipple of choice, there are plentiful options too. Highlights include the
(September 11-14), which was moved from its regular fixture in April due to ongoing works at Paisley town hall, and the Paisley Beer Festival (July 11-14) in Edinburgh. These are both monstrous events with literally hundreds of beers, ciders and even meads on offer. There are loads of other festivals all over the country, in places like Troon, Larbert, Alloa, Broughty Ferry, Stonehaven, and Aberdeen - they’re all over the place! Scottish Real Ale Festival
Too many festivals, not enough livers! Go get browsing and get booking!
**PS - As I said above, my lists were nowhere near exhaustive, so if you know of a good, upcoming wine, beer or whisky event tell us all about it in the comments section below!**
Reading Between the Wines: wines for courses of horses
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