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Stonehaven is a Scottish village surrounded by landscapes, history, and folklore which all combine to create a place bursting with mystery and beauty. The town’s sandy seafront and picture perfect harbor is home to some of the region’s top eateries and nearby lies one of Scotland’s most renown sites, Dunnottar Castle.
Dunnottar Castle is a dramatic cliff top fortress that was the home of the Earls Marischal, once one of the most powerful families in Scotland. Steeped in history, this romantic and mysterious ruin is a photographer’s paradise, a history lover’s dream, and an iconic tourist destination for visitors the world over.
The Ship Inn
Built in 1771, the Ship Inn Stonehaven is a local pub with a picture perfect view of the harbor, good whiskey, and a genuine Scottish atmosphere.
Stonehaven Folk Festival
The small harbor town comes alive with some of the best in traditional and contemporary music and song offering a mixture of evening concerts in the Town Hall plus informal sessions, workshops and concerts through the day.
Hogmany Fireball Ceremony
Every year they have what’s called the ‘Fireball Festival’ where you’ll see Scotsman in their traditional kilts waving giant fireballs through the center of town. All of the villagers and revelers from around Scotland come out to enjoy the spectacle.
You’ll most likely visit Stonehaven as part of a day trip but if you decide to stay here you can find a nice little B&B in the center of town, or look for a quaint cottage a couple miles outside of town for a more secluded experience.
Food you’re sure to find…
Seafood is the name of the game in coastal Scotland. Try some local haddock at one of the local eateries in the harbor!
Did you know Scotland is known for…
Also Scotland is well known for its fried foods and Stonehaven is the first place in the world to bring us a deep fried mars bar.
History of Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle from Above
Jack’s Favorite Moment
Hogmany in the Highlands
Oh, Scotland. There really is no place in the world like Scotland. Landscapes, history, and folklore all combine to create a place bursting with mystery and beauty. I could talk all day about Scotland, but for this particular daily dose of Europe, I am focusing on New Years in the north eastern part of the country.
New Year’s Eve, or Hogmany as its known in Scotland, is a big deal. Revelers from coast to coast set to prepare for a long night of fun, family, and festivities all across the country. Its origins date back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Vikings with wild parties in late December, so you could say it’s a tradition that has been around quite a while – over 1,000 years.
I celebrated Hogmany in Scotland during 2011-2012 while I was on winter break from Cardiff University. I was studying for my Masters in Ancient Greek and Roman Archaeology in Wales and did not have the money to go all the back home to the States for Christmas break so I was invited by a friend to stay with his family in Scotland. And I’m glad I said yes. I had already been to Scotland on 10 separate trips at this point, but this took my love of the country to new heights.
My friend’s family lived in a wee village outside Aberdeen called Stonehaven. Their house was outside the village just a few miles from the coast which was a beautiful setting overlooking the ocean and lush green rolling hills. The town’s sandy seafront and picture perfect harbor is home to some of the region’s top eateries and nearby is one of Scotland’s most renown sites, Dunnottar Castle.
Dunnottar Castle is a dramatic cliff top fortress that was the home of the Earls Marischal, once one of the most powerful families in Scotland. Steeped in history, this romantic and mysterious ruin is a photographer’s paradise, a history lover’s dream, and an iconic tourist destination for visitors the world over. Of course, I had to visit this epic castle to see for myself. When I arrived though, they had just stopped last entry. I was 5 minutes late so was not able to enter. I was devastated. But, I was undeterred and resolved to get into the castle some way other another.
The entry to the castle was on a small spit of land jutting out of from the ocean, so the only other way to enter the fortress was to scale the cliffs. And I did just that. I found a good spot on the cliff-side and started to make my climb. My friend’s mother was understandably worried while she was watching me climb 100 feet vertically into this castle. After some hard climbing and a few near missteps I made it to the top of one side and then proceeded into an open window in a ruined tower. It was well worth it. Although a mostly ruined castle, the dramatic landscape and rich history makes it a fitting jewel in the crown of Scotland’s great treasures.
Stonehaven is one of THE top places in all of Scotland to celebrate Hogmany. Every year they have what’s called the ‘Fireball Festival’ where you’ll see Scotsman in their traditional kilts waving giant fireballs through the center of town. All of the villagers and revelers from around Scotland come out to enjoy the spectacle. I had to join in the fun so I put on my own kilt and suited up to be apart of the annual tradition. We had an absolute blast and if you’re ever in a position to be in Scotland for Hogmany don’t miss out!
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Explore the inside of Dunnottar Castle
Walk around town
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