The Highland’s biggest birthday party is taking place on your doorstep and it’s a celebration you don’t want to miss.
With over 100 events over eight days, ‘Grantown 250: The Strathspey Seven Festivals’ in Grantown-on-Spey is an event to rival all others. From interactive displays, a historical pub crawl, music evenings, buffets, barbecues, tastings and a traditional market, there is something for everyone.
Grantown250 is a series of festivals that marks the laying of the first stone of the first building in the town. And with seven themes – environment, food and drink, sport, heritage, tourism, trade and music, the celebrations cater for all tastes.
Launching on June 20, the extravaganza will run to 28 June with a variety of events including a Grantown 250 Schools’ Soccer Sevens contest, the “Fiddler of Strathspey” fiddle championships, a Benjamin Saunders Organ Recital and a Donnie Munro acoustic set.
The idea for the event has been in the planning for well over a year and Bill Sadler of the Grantown Society who are organising the festival explained why it is taking place: “Grantown has such a rich history and there are few towns where you can trace back the history so clearly. This festival which involves the whole community is a celebration for local people and visitors from home and abroad. It will showcase the history and attractions of our unique community but it also illustrates the dawn of the modern Highlands; so it’s as much a celebration for the whole region as it is for Grantown itself. The project is the brainchild of several local people who wish the special qualities of Grantown to be celebrated and become more widely known, creating a lasting legacy.”
One of the highlights of Grantown 250 will be the reinstating of the town’s Regality Cross which dates back to 1694 when it was erected at “Old Grantown” beside Castle Grant. When the current town was established in 1765, the cross was moved to the new settlement’s square. However at some point it was taken down and there is no record of what became of it. However, the Regality Cross will become a feature once again as Bill explained: “This really is momentous for the town. We are recreating something which has been lost for over two centuries. It is an appropriate way to mark the town’s anniversary.”
Some of the highlights of the week’s exciting events are listed here and each day there will be guided walks and cycle runs, exhibitions and interactive displays. In the evenings there is a choice of music from a classical concert to a traditional ceilidh.
June 21: Midsummer Tryst
A colourful, opening day to the festival featuring historic, interactive and cultural events around the Castle and “Old Grantown”. There will be a Castle Grant Mountain Bike Race, a summer solstice picnic, re-enactments, traditional sports and crafts, fairground games and pipe band music.
June 22: Georgian Monday
Georgian Monday will provide a real flavour of the post-Culloden Georgian Highlands and will include an interactive recreation of washday, a military display from Fort George and a wine and cheese reception at the museum. There will also be music throughout the day.
June 23: Totally Locally
A focus on Grantown’s vibrant shops and businesses, turning back the clock to show their Georgian and Victorian roots including street entertainers, drama presentations and a merchants’ bazaar.
June 24: Food and Famine
Strathspey is famous for its produce. Sales, displays, a food fair, demonstrations and a chance to sample and explore food and drink, past and present, from smuggling to the best of Highland cuisine.
June 25: Celebrity Day
A day to celebrate Grantown past and present – its foundation, its people and their achievements. There will be dramatic sketches, a chance to play old style golf off Grantown’s first 9-hole course, and entertainment from internationally known artists.
June 26: Heritage Day
A day to explore and enjoy the town and its environment, its past, its music and its education with many exhibitions and events from croquet to carding. There will also be a historic pub crawl and quiz and a whisky galore event.
June 27: Fairs Day
Take part in one of Strathspey’s oldest fairs with a range of stalls and activities. Enjoy the colour of the costumes, the entertainment and the fun. You too can dress for the occasion! Take part in a traditional style ceilidh.
June 28: Foundation Day
The climax of the week on exactly the 250th anniversary of laying the first stone of New Grant Town. Join in the open air picnic with all kinds of entertainment.
Visit the Grantown 250 website – www.grantown250.org for full listings and follow on Facebook and Twitter (Grantown 250)
During your visit look out for places that are part of ‘Taste Our Best’, a VisitScotland quality assurance scheme. The accreditation ensures that you will eat quality ingredients of Scottish provenance and the freshest seasonal produce while acknowledging those establishments which are achieving high standards. Indeed, if you are staying in Grantown-on-Spey, it may be in one of the 7 Grantown businesses which have received this accolade. Covering B&Bs, Guest Houses and Hotels, they range from 3* Seafield Lodge Hotel and The Garth Hotel and Restaurant to 4* RossMor Guest House, Culdearn House, Tulach Ard B&B and Ravenscourt Highland Hotel while Gold 5* is awarded to The Dulaig. Contact details and full listings of these and other establishments across the Cairngorms National Park that have been awarded the accolade can be found at: www.visitscotland.com/about/food-drink/taste-our-best
Look out for the distinctive badge across a whole variety of food and drink outlets in the area. It’s not only accommodation providers and top restaurants that are proudly displaying this badge on their windows. Cafes, bars, pubs, takeaways and visitor attractions, throughout Scotland, are all embraced by the scheme; what they share is a dedication to providing fresh and locally sourced produce. Experience! Enjoy!
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