Things to do in Scotland in November 2023

The days are short and the temperature drops, but if you wrap up warm there are some unique things to do in Scotland in November. Think about taking a trip to the islands of the Inner Hebrides like Islay, Gigha and Arran or take a tour around Dumfries and Galloway where you can visit the Dark Sky Park and see the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere. If stargazing is your thing, head north and if you are lucky you might catch a sighting of the Northern Lights.

Things to do in Scotland in November

This vibrant, community-focused festival is now in its 14th year and offers a programme of events to beat the winter blues, suitable for all ages. It runs between 17th and 26th November 2024. The festival begins with a costumed Opening Parade. Other highlights include:

The Winter Woods – 6 nights of spectacular illuminations that guide visitors along a magical trail through the majestic conifers of Glencruitten woods, after which they can take part in nature-inspired crafts.

Local food & craft markets (18th & 25th) in unique and historic venues across the coastal town of Oban, the Seafood Capital of Scotland. Festival goers can enjoy the best of food, drink and crafts from local producers and makers.

The Reindeer Parade on the final Saturday of the festival. Families love this parade when Santa on his traditional sled is pulled through the streets of Oban by a team of real reindeer.

The festival culminates with the Haggis & Whisky Festival where expert haggis judges will select a winner from competitors from across Scotland and, alongside, reveal the People’s Choice for the best haggis. The festival is hosted in the Oban Distillery.

You can find more details of this years festival on The Oban Winter Festival website.

Dundee Mountain Film Festival 28th–30h November 2024. Showcasing an international programme of speakers, as well as award winning films and exhibitions, held in various venues in Dundee. Check the website for the full programme when it is released.

Go Foraging in the Forest

Autumn is mushroom season so a perfect time to learn about foraging for wild food whilst spending time in nature. If you are not confident about your skills, join a workshop or book a private class with one of Scotland’s experts. Mark Galloway of Galloway Wild Foods runs events between March and November (check his website for the year’s events in November and book early as they do sell out). Or you can book a private session with him at any time. For foraging classes and events in other parts of Scotland take a look at this  directory of foraging experts in Scotland. 

Stargazing & Dark Skies Events

With the nights becoming longer, November is a good time for some serious stargazing. If you are lucky you may catch the Northern Lights from more northerly parts of Scotland and some of the islands. This year there are special stargazing weekend on Coll on 2nd & 3rd November, which has established a reputation as a dark sky destination. Coll & the Cosmos will give attendees 10 hours of learning and stargazing activities with experts and top notch equipment on sight. The fully digital, immersive Planetarium will ensure that there is plenty of stargazing on offer even if it clouds over.

 Near Ballater, in the Cairngorms, another dark sky destination, the Howe of Torbeg is running stargazing events  throughout the winter.

Tomintoul & Glenlivet, in the Cairngorms National Park, have recently been awarded Dark Sky Park status. The Cairngorm’s wide open spaces and large expanses of dark skies, make it a great destination for some night sky gazing. The park hosts multiple Dark Skies Discovery Sites. Discovery sites are easily accessible sites, without light pollution, where you can park up and enjoy the celestial display from the comfort of your own camper. Or head north or to the less populated islands, to try and catch a sighting of the Northern Lights.

The Abriachan Forest Trust hosts themed stargazing events in Abriachan Forest  throughout the year in collaboration with astronomer Stephen Mackintosh of Highland Astronomy. Booking is essential. The events are suitable for adults and children and admission is free for under 16s with accompanying adults. Stephen is a freelance astronomer, night sky photographer and educator based in the Highlands of Scotland. Stephen also holds his own events at dark sky locations around the Inverness area and Highlands and it is possible to book your own private stargazing session with him.

best place to see northern lights scotland

You can find a list of all the Dark Skies Discovery Sites, stargazing tips and news of stargazing events at Visit Scotland. There have been lots of sightings of the Northern Lights in Scotland over the last couple of years. The best time to have a chance to see them is between October and December when the nights are at their longest. Scotland is the best place to see the Northern Lights in the UK – head as far north as possible and away from settlements so you are free from light pollution.

Winter Wildlife Watching

Winter is a brilliant time to see wildlife in Scotland. November to December is pupping season for grey seals so you’ll get close up views of seals as they come in to have their pups. It’s also the season for deer rutting. Choose your location and you may get to see these magnificent beasts lock antlers as they fight over the hinds. Even if you don’t see them, you’ll be able to hear their roars echo around the mountains.

Grey seal at Ullapool, Scotland

Enjoy the best of Scottish produce

November is the perfect time to sample the best that Scotland’s larder has to offer. Choose a pub or restaurant serving seasonal Autumn food and you will feast on shellfish, game and venison. Here are some of our favourites where you will find good Scottish food, a warm welcome and a cosy open fire. 

Loch Lomond Arms Luss
Seasonal produce at the Taybank in Scotland

The Loch Lomond Arms is an old coaching inn on the banks of Loch Lomond serving Scottish produce from the Luss Estate. You can camp at at nearby Luss campsite all year round or park up right on the banks of Loch Lomond in one of the designated camper spots. The Taybank is a stylish pub/restaurant with rooms on the banks of the River Tay in historic Dunkeld. The restaurant uses responsibly sourced, local produce, including vegetables from the pub’s own kitchen garden. There is live music throughout the year in the bar which serves food and more formal dining in the restaurant overlooking the river. The Bridge Inn at Ratho, within striking distance of Edinburgh, serves a menu of pub favourites using seasonal Scottish produce 6 days a week. There are traditional roasts on a Sunday. There are vegetarian and gluten-free options and even a doggie menu in this dog friendly pub. The inn is right on the canal so perfect for a stroll to work up an appetite first.

Bridge Inn Ratho Scotland

Visit Edinburgh

Christmas comes early to Edinburgh. Take a trip to Edinburgh in November and alongside the usual attractions that it has to offer, you will find lots of festive things to do. Christmas at the Botanics is open on selected evenings throughout November and December. Booking is essential for this magical trail through the Royal Botanic Gardens illuminated by botanically themed light installations. Street food vendors (and Santa) can be found along the way.

Castle of Light Edinburgh Scotland

The Edinburgh Christmas market and fair opens in mid November. There is a huge Christmas market with hundreds of festive food, drink, craft and gift stalls, an outdoor ice rink, funfair and Santa Land (including a Christmas tree maze). Edinburgh Castle becomes the Castle of Light for the fifth year, with an immersive after-dark experience of light installations in the Castle grounds.

Edinburgh Christmas market opens in November

Edinburgh Christmas market Scotland

November 30th is St. Andrews Day, Scotland’s national day. You will find large events, concerts and banquets in major cities and smaller celebrations all over the country with lots of food and drink, music and dancing.

St Andrews Day celebrations at Edinburgh Castle

Big Sky Campers Campervans for Hire

Scotland

All our campervans for hire come fully equipped with everything you will need for your visit to Scotland in November. Our campervans are fully heated and insulated and we will provide you with extra blankets if needed. Everything is included in the price, including extra sets of bedding if requested. 

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