A “Festival” means different things to different people. Whatever your interpretation, there is sure to be something right up your street among the wealth of festivals that take place across the Cairngorms National Park. To illustrate this diversity, What’s On dips into but a few events happening over the coming months.

Firstly, a Festival that occurs annually, across the country, but on different dates every year – yes, Easter. For many businesses across the Park, Easter marks the start of the visitor season but in reality there is a range of natural attractions and organized events to appeal to everyone throughout the year. For information about what’s on in the Cairngorms National Park over Easter period, for all the family, check our online calendar at www.visitcairngorms.com

Striking the right cord

This March, two very different music festivals take place around Aviemore and Kingussie. A first for the Park and indeed, a first for the UK, is Groove CairnGorm – the nation’s first ever resort based snowsports festival. Held in conjunction with Cairngorm Mountain, over the weekend of 11-13 March, Groove Cairngorm is a must for snowsports and music fans. Aside from the snowsports, each day there will be entertainment on the mountain, followed by apres ski and a top line up of live music and DJs in the superb setting of Badaguish near Aviemore. Get yourself along and groove to Grandmaster Flash and the Cuban Brothers. Great DJ sets include Hot Chip and Eton Messy. Add to this other acts such as Prides, Niteworks, DJ Yoda, Monki, Spring Break and Elephant Sessions and you have a real eclectic mix.

Scottish Slopestyle Championships
Scottish Slopestyle Championships

If that wasn’t enough action the Scottish Slopestyle Championships are taking place at CairnGorm Mountain over the same weekend. Here you can see some of the best riders from around the UK compete for the title of Scottish Slopestyle champion.

Groove CairnGorm is just one event in a week long programme of activities happening between 11-18 March as part of Scottish Tourism Week.


If you are a visitor attending the Scottish Slopestyle Championships or Groove CairnGorm we extend a warm welcome to a fun filled line up of snowsports, entertainment and music in our very special part of the world. Perhaps this is your first visit and you had not thought about visiting the area before. If so, we hope you will want to return to the National Park to experience more of the stunning diversity of this amazing place. www.cairngormmountain.org/groove-cairngorm

Also taking place this month, between 14 – 23 March is the well-established Badenoch & Strathspey Music Festival which incorporates music, dance, speech and drama. Now in its 59th year, the Festival was founded to encourage participation and to promote the development and enjoyment of performing arts across all age groups within the area and from further afield. Run by a dedicated team of volunteers, the Festival runs classes and competitions in singing, instrumental music, drama, dance and poetry. You may be too late to enter as a competitor, but a pick of the contestants will be giving a celebratory end-of-Festival concert at Kingussie High School Hall on 23 March 2016. www.strathfest.com

The toast of Speyside

A ‘must do’ Festival for whisky aficionadas is the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival which takes place between 28 April and 2 May 2016.

Speyside Distillery
Speyside Distillery

The Festival celebrates Scotland’s national drink with a range of entertaining and educational whisky inspired or themed events. An increasingly large section of the programme takes place in the Park, with activities not just based around the distilleries but complementary events run by other businesses. A flavour of what to expect: Tours, nosings and tastings at Glenlivet, Tomintoul and Speyside Distilleries. A whisky master class at Richmond Hall Tomintoul or tastings at Speyside Centre Dulnain Bridge to test if you know your Highland from your Speyside! You will not go hungry either. Choose from brunch paired with whiskies (Speyside Centre); a delicious Afternoon Tea and SPEY tasting on board the Strathspey Railway; a 4 course Whisky Dinner with whisky themed courses (Muckrach Country House Hotel, Dulnain Bridge) or a whisky themed Roving Dinner followed by a relaxing evening walk through Anagach forest while being entertained with fascinating tales, accompanied by a malts and chocolates (Rosehall Guest House Grantown on Spey). www.spiritofspeyside.com

At one with nature

The Cairngorms National Park is the ideal location to host a Festival dedicated to the natural environment. The Cairngorms Nature Festival, which takes place over the weekend of 14 and 15 May, is a celebration of the Park’s outstanding wildlife and scenery. An exciting programme, packed with events for young and old, will get you close to nature. See the Cairngorms wildlife in action with ranger-led walks, get involved in a conservation project or take part in a family activity. The full programme and booking details will be available from Easter 2016: do come along if you can.

Cairngorms Nature Festival
Cairngorms Nature Festival

Walk on the wild side

Combine fresh air, stunning scenery with some great walking. Open to all, the Angus Glens Walking Festival between 2 – 5 June covers 18 walks, for all levels of ability, passing through fantastic scenery. The walks are led by local mountain leaders and countryside rangers who have excellent knowledge of the Glens. Learn about its history and its wildlife. Walk along Scotland’s oldest right of way or if you’re feeling more ambitious – try a Munro. To book a walk and for more details the 4-day festival, visit www.visitangus.com/walkingfestival

So, there we have five festivals to relish. Visit www.visitcairngorms.com to explore the many other events planned for 2016. Many are outdoor and sporting gatherings; others celebrate food, heritage and creative arts. As we said, there really is something for everyone.