Scotland has long enjoyed a unique cultural heritage that makes it very distinct from its larger southern neighbor, England. 2018 marks tourist agency Visit Scotland’s Year of Young People, with a range of events scheduled to celebrate everything this nation has to offer with a wide range of art exhibitions, music festivals and theatrical performances. Whether or not you consider yourself young enough to fit into this demographic is entirely up to you!

Much of what Scotland has to offer in terms of tourist destinations or historic sites have always been a magnet for visitors, of all age groups. So if you are planning a visit, either to take in the Year of Young People or simply to make the most of Scotland’s stunning scenery and family activities, here are some recommended events and locations.

Year of Young People 2018

This year will see a host of exciting activities being launched right across Scotland, including the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival next month: a series of striking showcases covering everything from music and film to visual art and dance. There will be something for everyone, and if you’re new to Scotland you can also enjoy road trips, camping and family-friendly days out.

Edinburgh Castle

Perched atop an extinct vocano in the heart of Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh Castle is one of the country’s most popular attractions, with 70% of city visitors making it a key part of their intinerary. As well as hosting regimental museums, the esplanade outside its main walls hosts the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a highlight of the annual arts festival.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Spanning the first three weeks of August every year, the so-called ‘Fringe’ is the largest arts event of its kind in the world. Running in Edinburgh since 1947, last year’s Fringe featured over 53,000 separate arts performances in 300 venues across the city. Without a formal selection process the festival is open to anyone, guaranteeing the enthusiastic audiences an eclectic mix of shows. Every possible genre of the arts is catered for, from stand-up comedy to Shakespeare, cabaret to opera, children’s puppetry to circuses. The comedy circuit forms the largest section, with prestigious awards granted to the top acts.

V&A Museum, Dundee

Due to open in September 2018, the V&A is being advertised as the world’s first ever museum solely dedicated to design. Housed in a brilliantly-conceived modern struture on the city’s former docklands, the opening exhibition will be a celebration of the golden era of ocean liners.

Cairngorms National Park

Away from the large cities, Scotland is renowned for its rugged and tranquil landscapes. The Cairngorm Mountains, rising to 1300 metres above sea level in north-eastern Scotland, host a variety of wildlife, including pine martens, hares, red squirrels, reindeer and capercaillies (the largest member of the grouse family, which can weigh in at 7.2 kilos.) Hiking trails criss-cross the mountain range.

Skye

Largest of the Western Isles lying off Scotland’s west coast, Skye is reached by a road bridge over Loch Alsh. The town of Portree welcomes visitors to its picturesque harbour, where ferry crossings are available to many of the surrounding islands.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Similar to the natural plinth below its famous castle, the highest hill in Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat, was formed by geological upheavals millions of years ago. Today this landmark can be approached from various directions, with pathways leading to its 250-metre summit. The reward for the climb are panoramic views to the River Forth and the Pentland Hills. Watching the sun sinking over this beautiful city will be a sight to savor.

Outlander Trail

In celebration of the TV phenomenon that is Outlander, a rollicking tale of passion, warfare and time-travelling, tours are available that showcase many of the idyllic settings of the Scottish Highlands-based drama. In the run up to the release of the fourth series this autumn you can visit many of the key locations over a two-day tour. Savour Scotland’s spectacular history at Blackness and Midhope Castles, as well as Linlithgow Palace (birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots) and Edinburgh’s Craigmillar Castle.