THE year has flown and here we find ourselves in the midst of this historic weekend that sees the UK commemorate the Queen’s 70th year on the throne.

We are most of us no doubt enjoying our extra days off, but perhaps some of us are wondering quite what to do with them or even looking ahead to the days of summer. Whether it is a desire to keep the children occupied or to actively mark the Platinum Jubilee in a symbolic style, then Scotland has an array of regal locations and events worth a visit to tip your hat to Her Majesty if you so desire.

Her love of Scotland is well known, outlined in her address at the opening ceremony of the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament where she said she held a “deep and abiding affection for this wonderful country and of the many happy memories” it holds for her.

And although there are many more spots with royal connections down through history, here are some of the destinations and events in Scotland beloved by the Queen and her House of Windsor, as well as some of the activities being planned to mark the occasion.

Balmoral Castle, Strathdee

Balmoral Castle in the heart of Royal Deeside, is the Scottish holiday home of the royal family and has been so since the 1840s when Queen Victoria began staying on the estate with Prince Albert, noting in her diary that at Balmoral, “All seemed to breathe freedom and peace and to make one forget the world and its sad turmoils.” Indeed, Victoria referred to Balmoral and its surrounds as “paradise” while the Queen is said to hold a special place in her heart for the 50,000 acre estate. Princess Eugenie said in a recent documentary about the monarch that “Granny is the most happy there”. It is possible to experience it yourself as the grounds, gardens, exhibitions, gift shop and coffee shop at Balmoral are open on a daily basis until August 2, when the Queen is expected to arrive for her annual stay at the castle. Visitors may also wish to venture to the Balmoral Pyramid, also known as Prince Albert’s Cairn. Built by Victoria in 1862 following his death, the 41ft x 41ft pyramid offers a sweeping view of the beautiful Aberdeenshire landscape and is popular on Instagram, but bear in mind reaching the Balmoral Cairn Walk requires a two-to-three-hour hike. A special Balmoral Platinum Jubilee afternoon tea is on offer at the coffee shop this weekend although pre-booking is required.

Glamis Castle, Angus

Glamis Castle is the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth but has real-life royal connections as it was the family home of the Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Beside the village of Glamis in Angus, the castle and estate is the home of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and is open to the public, offering an opportunity to explore the extensive gardens and historic building itself, with the castle reached along an enchanting straight avenue that is just under a mile long, lined with mature oak trees. The Queen Mother spent her childhood at Glamis, returning in later life with her husband Prince Albert, the future King George, and her children, now Queen Elizabeth and her younger sister Princess Margaret, who was born there in 1930. In the grounds to the east of the castle there is a stone memorial to Princess Margaret while the avenue is reached through the Queen Mother Memorial Gates. And in honour of the jubilee, an afternoon of live music takes place on the Castle Lawn from noon - 3pm on June 4.

The Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh

What was once a floating royal palace is now a five-star visitor attraction in the Port of Leith in Edinburgh, welcoming more than 390,000 visitors a year from all around the globe keen to explore the yacht that was a beloved holiday home for the Queen and her family. From its launch at the John Brown & Company shipyard in Clydebank in April 1953, Britannia served the Royal Family for 44 years, travelling more than a million nautical miles. Britannia was a royal residence for relaxation, but also for glittering state visits, official receptions and royal honeymoons. She was also used by government departments for ‘Sea Days’, where business deals were made, estimated to have earned the Exchequer around £3  billion between 1991 and 1995 alone. Now visitors can explore everything from the crew’s quarters to the state apartments and even the royal residence where in days gone by, the likes of Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Ronald Reagan all enjoyed hospitality. One of the ways the yacht is marking the jubilee year is by offering special private tours with “behind-the-ropes insight into how the Royal Family and 220 crew lived and worked on board”.

Castle of Mey, Caithness

The windswept Castle of Mey, built in the 1500s, later became the holiday home of the Queen Mother, who purchased it in 1952 and set about renovating and restoring the building, its gardens and 30 acre estate. She went on to spend three weeks in August there and then 10 days each October. The most northerly castle in mainland Britain, standing about 400 yards from the shore and overlooking the Pentland Firth, Princess Margaret is said to have nicknamed it “Mummy’s drafty castle.” In July 1996, the Queen Mother handed the property over to the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust, which has opened the castle and garden to the public regularly since her death. Prince Charles is president of the trust and visits at least once a year. Visitors can enjoy exploring the walled garden and gift shop, or a refreshment in the tea room. The castle and gardens are open Wednesday to Saturday until September 30, and closed from July 25 to August 12.

The Outer Hebrides

A cruise around the Western Isles was an annual event for the Queen and her family for many years, marking the start of her annual Scottish holiday that still takes place at Balmoral, but offering an opportunity for the royals to be on the ocean wave and away from photographer’s lenses and public engagements for a time beforehand. The beauty of the Western Isles, with its turquoise waters and remote white sands, offered ideal picnic spots for the royals, before Britannia would journey along the northern coast of Scotland, past the Queen Mother’s holiday home at the Castle of Mey, and dock in Aberdeen, where the family would then make their way inland to Royal Deeside. With Britannia decommissioned, the Queen even marked her 80th birthday by chartering a former Caledonian MacBrayne ferry that had been refitted and transformed into a small cruise ship, sailing off for a nine-day break around the Scottish islands, clearly a trip down memory lane. More information on following in royal footsteps – or in the royal wake as it were – is available at

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

Holyrood Palace, nestled at the bottom of the Royal Mile, is the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh and the home of a tapestry of Scottish royal history. Founded as a monastery in 1128, it is a focus for Royal Week, which usually takes place around the end of June to the start of July, when the Queen traditionally resides at the Palace while conducting business and investitures. King George V and Queen Mary held the first garden party in the grounds of Holyroodhouse and the tradition has been maintained to the present day, seeing the Queen entertain around 8,000 guests from all walks of Scottish life. Visitors can learn more about the palace’s rich history, including the six weeks Bonnie Prince Charlie set up court in 1745 and details of Mary, Queen of Scots, who spent much of her life there, where the building bore witness to the murder of her private secretary in her private apartments by a group led by her husband, Lord Darnley.

A variety of jubilee events are being held at palaces across the country, including an embroidery course on June 11 at Holyroodhouse, and a family ‘design a platinum plate’ workshop on June 18. From July 3 to September 25, the Palace hosts a display of outfits worn by the Queen on occasions to celebrate the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees.

Dumfries House, Cumnock

This Palladian country house set in 2,000 acres in Ayrshire was saved by the intervention of Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay, in 2007. It is noted for being one of the few remaining stately homes with much of its original 18th century furniture still in situ, including specially commissioned Thomas Chippendale pieces. The house and estate is now owned by The Prince’s Foundation charity which maintains it as a visitor attraction and a hospitality and wedding venue. The house is open for public tours and the grounds are open for exploration 365 days a year. In 2014, the Queen opened the five-acre Queen Elizabeth Walled Garden, a flagship project of the estate’s restoration efforts and now one of the biggest walled gardens in Scotland. The estate itself is an oasis of parkland, gardens and woodland walks and earlier this year, Prince Charles opened a new adventure play park inspired by Prince George’s treehouse, designed to encourage children to immerse themselves in nature for the benefit of their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Braemar Games, Strathdee

Held on the first Saturday in September in The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, the Gathering is historic, with events of some kind taking place there since the days of Scottish king Malcolm Canmore 900 years ago. In its present form, the event dates to 1832 and sees crowds come from around the world to acclaim the Queen as chieftain of the Braemar Gathering. Members of the Royal Family have attended regularly since 1848 when Queen Victoria first did so from nearby Balmoral. Traditional Highland games events take place on the day, including a tug of war, hammer throwing and tossing the caber, featuring international competitors. To mark this year’s milestone, a new Jubilee Arch is to be put in place as a permanent feature at the park, acting as a gateway to the games arena.

National Trust for Scotland venues

The NTS is hosting a range of events in celebration of the jubilee at venues across the country, including a summer-long display at the Tenement House in Glasgow, showing special items linked to the Queen’s succession to the throne in 1952 and her coronation. The exhibit “explores what impact the coronation had on the people of Glasgow”. A Platinum Jubilee Picnic is planned at Brodie Castle in Moray tomorrow, while Newhailes in Musselburgh hosts a family festival all weekend.

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

The Capital is the focus of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee events in Scotland, with Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Robert Aldridge, saying it wanted to create a fitting tribute to a, “truly historic event”. West Princes Street Gardens are the venue for a mass “picnic in the park” tomorrow as events take place across the UK.

There will also be a special Edinburgh Festival Carnival parade, arranged for the occasion, with live entertainment beginning from noon, followed by a live broadcast of the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in London on a giant screen in the gardens. As part of the celebrations the Royal Navy’s amphibious flagship HMS Albion is sailing into Edinburgh, berthing next to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith. Sailors and Royal Marines will attend ceremonies at Edinburgh Castle and the Princes Street Gardens party, while the ship will host a royal event and will open to visitors.