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Crunchy leaves, bonfires, cosy cafes and festival fun; October is the perfect time to combine a holiday with a fun-filled event. When lazing on the beach all day isn’t really an option, the cooler weather lends itself to parties, shows and festivals. From a woodland light and sound spectacular to a knitting cruise on Loch Ness, you’ll find plenty of weird and wonderful October events to keep you entertained. And if you love a trip to Scotland, you’re certainly in for a treat this month!
From secluded cottages surrounded by countryside to slick apartments in the city, Holiday Lettings has hundreds of rentals to choose from. Make the most of your October event and book a holiday rental near one of these fabulous festivals.
When: 21 September – 18 October
This fascinating exhibition in the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, features a close-up look at more than 50 sea creatures. There are around 200 ethically-sourced exhibits in total for visitors to explore, featuring incredible cross-sections of the animals and their complex organs – from whales and penguins to Great White sharks – using the same process as developed by Dr Gunther von Hagens, made famous by artist, Damien Hirst. Book a family-friendly rental nearby for an unmissable opportunity to learn more about the creatures of the deep.
When: 28 September – 14 October
Women take centre stage at this year’s Ilkley Literature Festival as the longest running festival of its kind in the North of England announces another stellar line-up. The packed programme of events includes comedian and ‘Strictly’ star, Susan Calman (12 October), poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy (14 October), hugely successful fiction author, Joanna Trollope (11 October) and young-adult fiction trailblazer, Jacqueline Wilson (4 October). The festival also welcomes back Leeds-born international stage and screen legend, Alan Bennett (5 October) and business-savvy fashionista, Mary Portas (13 November), who’ll be talking candidly about her life and work.
When: 4 October – 4 November
The Enchanted Forest, Scotland’s premier sound and light event, returns this autumn with a wild and wonderful new show that reveals nature by night in the heart of Faskally Wood. The name of this year’s extravaganza, ‘Of The Wild’, is inspired by the hidden beauty of Highland Perthshire’s wild woods. The creative team has taken that theme literally and come up with a spectacular show that combines breathtaking visuals, state-of the-art technology, interactive special effects, and a dazzling music score that fuses contemporary and traditional. So, if you love autumn, why not book a rental in Pitlochry to see this event and make a holiday of it?
When: 4 – 28 October
The Quest for Oz is a spectacular new light show adventure, combining theatre with augmented reality. Taking place at Drummohr House & Grounds, this intriguing event features real and virtual characters from the land of Oz. Journey through Glinda’s Bubble Land, navigate the Maze of Dreams and reveal your future with Doc Wonders’ Lucky Charms. Your quest is to help the wizard collect enough yellow bricks to rebuild the road. This brilliantly detailed and utterly magical installation by Vision Mechanics is geared to children with enquiring minds and their families, as well as adults with a childlike curiosity.
When: 5 – 7 October
Now in its 19th year, the Ullapool Guitar Festival is a celebration of the guitar and its many different styles. Taking place at the MacPhail Centre in Ullapool, this musical event has an international line-up, featuring musicians from Germany, India, Spain, Australia, South Korea and Venezuela. Over the weekend, expect a full programme of events including five concerts and three late-night Festival clubs. There’ll also be workshops on the Saturday and Sunday mornings, and an amazing trade show. So, whether you’re a guitar hero or an enthusiastic beginner, this is the festival for you.
When: 5 – 7 October
‘Bookmark is one of the greatest small book festivals in Scotland.’, said the poet Alan Riach. This three-day event has an eclectic range of talks and shows on many subjects, from art to politics. Friday evening’s entertainment includes two politicians discussing their love of music, plus a reading by and conversation with a much-loved novelist. On Saturday, hear discussions about fiction based on real events, such as Walter Scott and the SS POW’s at Cultybraggan Camp, and the suffrage movement in the early 20th Century. To round off the weekend, Sunday celebrates Muriel Spark’s centenary with a day of events featuring writers and commentators who knew her best.
When: 5 – 12 October
This annual outdoor and walking festival, taking place at the Cowal Peninsula (an hour west of Glasgow), has lots to offer walkers, historians and nature lovers alike. Serious challenges await experienced hikers, while the social walks take things at a more leisurely pace, with a café or inn stop along the way. Perhaps a guided heritage walk about the Cowal Clans or nearby villages is more your style? Then join a special interest walk which include bird watching, local geology, creative writing, meditation and photography. Be sure to pack a camera for your trip to this stunning part of Scotland so you can capture those beautiful views.
When: 5 – 7 October
The Taste of Shetland Festival brings together live entertainment and cooking, with some of the best food and drink Shetland has to offer. The headline chefs are MasterChef: The Professionals Champion (and Scotland’s first ever National Chef), Gary Maclean, and author and TV chef, Manju Malhi. Highlights include the launch event ‘Ready, Shetland? Cook!’, and live cooking demonstrations in the Food Theatre and on the Seafish Peerie Stage. Plus, the live finals of children’s competition ‘Peerie Bites’ and the adults’ ‘Cooking Challenge’ will take place over the weekend. Shetland’s food and drink producers will be launching new products and offering tastings, too, so don’t miss out – plan your tasty trip to Shetland!
When: 13 October
Club Soda and Heineken 0.0 present Scotland’s first Mindful Drinking Festival at The Briggait in the centre of Glasgow. This free event will give you a chance to taste the new wave of alcohol-free drinks now available, including alcohol-free beers, wines, spirits, sodas and a host of drinks, such as kombuchas, shrubs and elixirs, invented by radical alchemists. There will be drink wizardry from local mixologists, live music and street food. Take part in free tasting workshops, meet Willem van Waesberghe, Heineken’s Global Master Brewer from Amsterdam, and hear celebs share their experiences of Mindful Drinking.
When: 19 -21 October
This wonderful wool-filled event is now in its third year, attracting people from all over the world who want to celebrate the rich craft culture and history of the Highlands of Scotland. There’ll be a marketplace with over 50 yarn sellers, and workshops with local and international teachers. The Main Stage programme includes traditional Scottish music, presentations and fashion shows. There’ll be demonstrations in the Crafting Village or visitors can simply kick-back in the Knit and Natter Lounge with a cuppa and a cake. A Ceilidh, Knitting Cruise on Loch Ness and Highland Feast are just some of the special events that really showcase the true Highland experience.
When: 19 – 21 October
There’s a potent sense of voyage and discovery about the Musicport Festival, which sets sail from Whitby every October. Taking place in the Pavilion Complex on the west pier, with its tall windows and invigorating view of the North Sea, the venue hosts an eclectic mix of diverse rhythms, melodies, food, dances and poems. Complete with its six stages and impressive line-up of global performers, Musicport is the perfect festival to sample ‘an exciting variety of world-class world acts.‘ (online review). Headliners this year include Vieux Farka Toure (Mali), Tankus The Henge and Luar Na Lubre (Spain). Make the most of your time in the delightful northern seaside town with week or two at a holiday rental.
When: 26 – 29 October
The Dornoch Whisky Festival is back! This year, the festival welcomes a phenomenal VIP: Stephen Woodcock, Distilleries Manager of Distell International. He has a very special tasting lined up which is not to be missed. There’ll also be some great industry brands and the incredibly popular ‘Grand Tasting’ that features a mix of distilleries, independent companies, independent bottlers and of course, our very own Dornoch Distillery & Carnegie Whisky Cellars. If you love a wee dram, book a holiday rental nearby to enjoy this wonderful October event.
When: 31 October
As darkness draws its veil on 31 October, the barrier between our world and the spirit world disappears, allowing phantoms, ghouls and faeries through to torment us and create mischief!
Celtic Samhain, the predecessor to Halloween, is an ancient festival where mortals perform rituals to protect family, crops and livestock from the spirit world. Join the Crannog Community as they celebrate this very special time of year with foot-stomping music from the Mad Ferret band, fire, metals and magic, shadow puppets, Samhain games, storytelling, incense, warming soup and bread, and the spectacular wicker ram bonfire finale! October events don’t come much more fiery than this.