Why Loch Ness and Inverness do Christmas & New Year’s the best

Scotland really does do the entire festive season justice. Why? It goes hell for leather, grabs the bull by the horns and takes Hogmanay by storm. It suffers no fools and takes no prisoners. Now, enough of the idioms and on to the specifics. Inverness and Loch Ness particularly know how to bring the magic of the Christmas season alive. And this makes any stay at Aldourie Castle or Cottages from November to January a pure delight. It also gives ample opportunity for guests to get involved in the Scottish Highlands’ festive spirit when they rent an entire castle. Last month the Highlands had its first snow of 2018, marking the start of celebrations in the region’s capital…

So far, we’ve witnessed the delights of:

Christmas Lights switch on
http://www.invernessfestivals.com/winter08/blog/static.php?page=static090824-123804

Victorian Market, Inverness
http://www.seeinverness.co.uk/shops/victorian-market.html

The Farmers Market
https://www.invernessfarmersmarket.co.uk/about

All the above and more is either still happening throughout winter or to look forward to in your 2019 Christmas holiday in the Highlands.

Yet to come when you rent an entire castle…

Winter Wonderland, Whin Park

For three days from 14th-16th December this already beautiful park is transformed into a Wonderland. Filled to the brim with shimmering illuminations, the event is based around a number of giant attractions installed by The Highland Council’s Lighting Team. Another main attraction is of course Santa, who will arrive in style with his devoted reindeer for a spot of relaxation before all the hard work begins. This event has always been popular with young families and a favourite for toddlers. All you have to do is wrap up warm, believe in magic and watch Whin Park come to life before your very eyes. This is ideally located when you rent an entire castle on the shores of Loch Ness, which provides a sumptuous home from home to return to after a night of festivities.

The Red Hot Highland Fling, Inverness

This official Hogmanay party in the heart of the city has had its line-up of bands and artists confirmed since the end of summer. The people of Inverness are almost bursting with anticipation of this festive celebratory event. Expect upbeat tunes, original songs and traditional Scottish favourites. The Trad Project, Blazin Fiddles and Tide Lines have been given the prestige of bringing in the New Year. Crowds will gather to watch a great fireworks display over Inverness Cathedral to signal the start of 2019.

Dinner with Ceilidh, ‘Bogmanay at Bogbain’

This event promises to be a night to remember in a unique venue. It’s a wonderful celebration of Hogmanay combining all the elements of this magical season with food, music and also laughter at its heart.

And finally, anyone who chooses to rent an entire castle and holiday in Loch Ness during Christmas and New Year will have the chance to spot Nessie in a Santa hat! Well, maybe this one’s a long shot, but here in the Highlands we have nothing if we have not faith. In addition to all of the above there are other ongoing celebrations to commemorate the Christmas culture. These includes festive drams, visits to Santa, Christmas pantomimes, food markets and fairs.


January progress in the Castle grounds and gardens

What’s been happening on the Estate recently? The gardens have endured a rather cold winter and are currently either covered in snow or frozen at the moment. The consistent cold temperatures mean that it’s tricky to get really into the soil. However, our dedicated team of gardeners love a challenge so Aldourie’s Castle grounds and gardens are back to thriving as never before. Here you can see some stunning images taken by our head gardener, Duncan, during a magical snowfall on the Highlands’ Estate.Castle grounds and gardens

An enchanting winter walled garden

The glasshouses have a surreal feel about them when coated in snow and it gives guests such pleasure to walk amongst them. The Castle team are looking forward to spring and summer when the newly refurbished architecture can really come into its own. It’ll then be warm enough to enjoy sitting, drinking and dining in the buildings whilst watching the world go by in the walled garden.

Here you see one of our lovely team members, Fe, planting a fruit tree in the Castle’s new orchard at Garden Cottage, situated just behind the walled garden. The orchard featured a variety of different plums, a few apples, a medlar, a quince and a damson. The wildflowers you see have since been cut but they will regrow in the spring.

Conservation at Aldourie continues to thrive

The orchard area is attached to the walled garden but forms the new garden for the cottage.  A lovely little orchard with wildflowers growing under the trees, this also helps to attract pollinators. As always, Aldourie is striving to cultivate an estate in complete harmony by planting new and tending to the old. Come rain or shine, our gardening team is committed to conserving every inch of the 500 acre Estate.Castle grounds and gardens

You may recall Aldourie’s ambitious plans for the four main garden areas we developed over 2017. Part of this was to bulk plant across the woodland to increase our plant collection. Well, this work has indeed begun during the cold, wintry months of December and January. We have been planting approximately 400 new rhododendrons in the arboretum.

These comprise many varieties to build upon the collection we already have. See this beautiful image of the generous flower the moment they arrived at the Castle; an exciting moment for the passionate gardening team! Plans continue to add to the collection of colourful rhododendrons in the spring.

Aldourie gardening team expands for 2018

The other exciting news is that we have taken on a new Assistant Head Gardener, Chris Smart, growing Aldourie’s garden team to four. Yes, we really do cover all that ground with this small but talented and capable team.  Chris joins Duncan, Sarah and Fe at the right time. He will have time to settle in before the major planting of no fewer than 35,000 plants on the Castle grounds and gardens in spring.

Castle grounds and gardens

Just like the hospitality team, the outdoors team also has to make forward plans. Each of the four spaces on the Estate has a set itinerary. We need this in order to stick to the proposed time frame for the grounds and gardens project as it moves into its second year. “Once new planting begins in early March the team of four will be really busy planting, mulching and watering, etc. so I wanted to make sure we were ready for that,” says Duncan.

As winter turns to spring at the Castle on Loch Ness

From now on and over the next few weeks Aldourie’s gardening team are preparing the soil in the new beds. We are also continuing to keep on top of the woodland garden – pruning and digging out all of the unwanted plants that have regrown. Soon, the contractors will be back on site to complete the architectural elements of the walled garden. This includes hanging all of the gates, building and installing the fruit arches and cages and finishing the cold frames. The look of this thriving garden space will change yet again in no time.

We look forward to showing you more of the Castle grounds and gardens progress as it comes into fruition. Keep a look out on our social media pages for snapshots of work in the gardens, which we continue to share with all our Aldourie followers.