As the nights draw in and weekends get shorter, we look at some ideas on things to do this November. November – a time of betwixt and between. Neither autumn but not yet winter – a month with its own unique qualities. The wooded valleys display the last vestiges of rich colour while a glimpse of snow covered peaks hint at the season lying ahead.
This is a fulfilling time to visit the Cairngorms National Park. While many of the summer attractions take a break until springtime, many still operate all year round. Add to that mix, sporting and outdoor activities, bird and nature watching, sightseeing, relishing the wonderful scenery and a plethora of community happenings, and you have a profusion of things to see and places to visit.

The Cairngorms are stunning at this time of year
The Cairngorms are stunning at this time of year

If you love the great outdoors and enjoy nature a wide choice awaits. For example, ranger-led events and walks, for all abilities, take place in Glen Tanar, Crathie and Ballater while a ‘Hands on Conservation’ event is sure to be popular. Check out red squirrels in Glen Doll Forrest, Kirriemuir or take part in a badger watch from a hide on the banks of the River Spey. And doesn’t “Meditate to the autumn colours” at Craigellachie National Nature Reserve’ sound alluring? If you prefer to learn about the natural world in cosy indoor surroundings, there is a variety of talks across the Park that include topics such as “Conservation in South Georgia” and “The life of a mountain guide” (Boat of Garten) and an “Introduction to the the Braemar Mountain Rescue Team (Ballater).

What's On in the Cairngorms November 2015
What’s On in the Cairngorms November 2015

November wouldn’t be November without the timeless thrill of a bonfire and fireworks. Many villages throughout the Park stage organised bonfire and fireworks evenings in the first week of the month. In Royal Deeside, Mar Lodge Estate in Braemar or Ballater’s Monaltrie Park are the places to be, while in the vicinity of the Cairngorms, there will be bonfires and/or fireworks in Boat of Garten, Kincraig, Newtonmore, Kingussie and Aviemore.
Enjoy listening to live music? Whatever your taste there is sure to be be a music filled event to please. Bars and hotels run regular music evenings with musicians and groups catering for a range of tastes from funk to traditional Scottish. And the village of Tomintoul plays host to a concert by the multi-award winning folk-rock band Skerryvore (7 Nov).
Perhaps you are a budding musician with more time on your hands? Then you could participate in a 5-week “Make Music” course which focuses on the guitar and whistle playing. If you appreciate classical, jazz or chamber music then concerts, in this genre, will be taking place in Nethy Bridge and Boat of Garten. There are opportunities to join in Old Time Dancing, Scottish country dancing and Linedancing or you could sign up for an “Introduction to Conversational Gaelic”. If art is your passion, drop in to the Creative Cairngorms exhibition (7-15 Nov) at the Iona Gallery, Kingussie or join a jewellery making workshop or art class run by the Cairngorms Learning Partnership.
With the onset of Christmas Fairs and Markets we are reminded that the festive season is fast approaching. From pop-up craft shops and community fund raisers to grander events, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Some ideas include; Nethy Bridge Christmas Craft Fayre (21 Nov), Cairngorm Mountain Christmas Market (7-28 Nov) – with special £1 trips on the funicular railway (see inside back cover) – and the extravaganza “Exclusively Highlands”– an annual Christmas art, craft and food fair at Blair Castle (6-8 Nov).
Don’t forget to spare a thought for Rudolf and his friends as he prepares for the busy weeks ahead. It seems as if he skips off now and then to meet up with his deer friends according to a “Find Rudolph” hunt near Deshar School, Boat of Garten (28 Nov). But if you want to make sure of coming up close and personal with some reindeer then visit Britain’s only herd of free ranging reindeer at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre where you can follow a herder on the hill, daily at 11am.
The RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, Kincraig is also making preparations, not just for Christmas, but for the winter ahead. Many of the species include Arctic animals and they are very much at home in a harsh climate. Pay a visit and you could be rewarded by seeing snow leopards (the only place in Scotland to see this stunning species), snow monkeys (also known as Japanese macques) and who could resist Walker, Arktos and Victoria, the adorable polar bears?
There are always new wonders to see, so wherever you explore, whatever experiences you delight in, make sure you have a camera at hand to capture those special, fleeting moments and memories of the Cairngorms National Park this November.

Details of the specific events mentioned, along with information on lots of other things to do, are available on the online calendar at http://visitcairngorms.com/whatson

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