We like to let our hair down in the Highlands: farmers congregate at agricultural shows and sheep dog competitions; youngsters go in for rock and pop festivals, but there is also something for traditionalists: Burns Nights, panto, the Mod (Gaelic cultural event), (bag) piping competitions and impromptu Ceilidhs. Last not least we can enjoy jazz concerts, classical music or ballet / contemporary dance at various venues.

Black Isle Show. Usually in early August. The Black Isle Show is the largest agricultural show in the north, and it gives you a chance to meet farmers and other members of the agricultural industry and admire their prizewinning livestock and produce. Entertaining sideshows. NB overlaps with Tartan Heart Festival (see below). More info

BLAS Festival, based at the AROS Centre, Portree, Skye. Spread over nine special days in September, this festival celebrates the music, songs, language and culture of the Highlands. More info

Highland Archaeology Festival, a wide-ranging array of walks and talks in/about archaeological sites all over the Highlands and Islands (end-September to mid-October). Culminates in a seminar weekend in Inverness with slide talks and poster exhibits. More info

Highland Games calendar

John O’Groats Book Festival, 2019 HIGHLAND FLING, at Seaview Hotel, John O’Groats: Took place on April 6/7, Look out for 2020 dates.

Highland Military Tattoo at Fort George: not envisaged for the time being; but you could visit the Edinburgh Festival Tattoo, if you happen to arrive in/depart from the Scottish capital in first to third week of August.

International Sheep Dog Trial. Locations vary according to winner’s home base. More info

Inverness Film Festival, usually in November, for details please keep checking their website from September/October onwards.
John O’Groats Book Festival, HIGHLAND FLING, first held at Seaview Hotel, John O’Groats: took place on 6/7 April 2019. Look out for next year’s dates on their website.
Orkney County Show (Agricultural), usually in first half of August: cattle, horses, sheep, dogs – and all the fun of the fair … always a very popular event. Essential to book your ferry crossing and accommodation in good time.  More info

Sutherland (Agricultural) Show, Dornoch, usually mid-July: talk to stock and arable farmers and admire their prize-winning stock and much more; watch competitions in various fields and sample delicious Highland produce. More info

Tartan Heart Festival, Belladrum, Belladrum, not far from Beauly which is not far from Muir of Ord (overlaps with Black Isle Show, see above). Usually beginning of August. This is an extremely popular Rock and Pop Festival, mostly sold out long in advance. ​More info

The Gathering: a new one-day summer festival at Inverness Northern Meeting Park, first introduced in early June 2019, organised by the team behind Belladrum and Groove Festivals. No age restrictions. Make sure to book early; likely to be sold out quickly. More info