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Summer in Scotland
Despite its breathtaking natural beauty, Scotland is not the first name on everyone's lips for a summer break. The climate may be notoriously wet and windy, even in the height of summer, but the rolling highlands, craggy mountains and unspoilt windswept beaches along the coast set the scene for a relaxing holiday.
With a thriving social calendar in the cosmopolitan cities, Scotland comes alive in the summer months, and with hundreds of Scotland hostels dotted all over the country, it makes one bargain summer getaway. From the best of new theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe, to hunting for Nessie at Loch Ness, spend a summer in Scotland, and you'll wonder why you ever doubted its Celtic charm. Here's a guide to what's on in Scotland in the summer months.
The Edinburgh Festival
Scotland's capital is transformed in August for the International Festival, and 17,000 performers turn up for the Fringe Festival alone. If you're traveling on a budget, stick to the bargain nights out at the Fringe, a festival created to showcase the best of local, student and up-and-coming comedy, theatre, music and performing arts.
The city is packed with revelers and performers out to unwind after the shows, so the bars and clubs open late and stay bustling 'till the wee hours. With such a young and lively crowd, there are dozens of Edinburgh hostels available to crash in after a night of hard partying, or recover after a day exploring Edinburgh's cobbled streets and Castle.
It may seem a cliché, but the legend of the Loch Ness Monster has captivated visitors to Scotland for centuries, and the stunning beauty of the region far outstrips the tacky tourism. Summer is a great time to visit, when the weather is mild enough to truly enjoy the great outdoors, with hill-walking or water-sports on the lake.
There are hostels in Loch Ness close to the bustling village of Fort Augustus, which is a great base to set off on a walk or cycle along the Great Glen Way to the famous Corrieyairack Pass. Die-hard Nessie fans can take a cruise across the lake and try and spot the fabled monster, or visit the Clansmen Center, and discover what highland life was really like in the 17th century.
A Highland Fling
The Scottish Highlands are famous for their magical landscape of ruined castles and rolling green hills, but in the summer they also draw visitors for The Highland Games, a celebration of Scottish and Celtic culture. The Games originated in Victorian times, after the 'Highland Clearances', when many highlanders came 'down south' and brought their traditions with them. Today the Games are a mixture of traditional athletic competitions, the 'massing' of the Pipe Bands, Highland Dancing, Drumming, and a celebration of Scottish food. 'Tossing the Caber' is the most popular of the events, with burly Scotsmen throwing a large wooden pole (between five and six meters long) across a field.
T in the Park
The rolling countryside between Stirling and Dundee hosts Scotland's biggest music festival in July. With a stellar line up of the biggest pop, rock and dance acts of the moment, Scotland's youth descend on the 'Park' for a weekend of gigs, market stalls and a fairground. There's even a 'fancy dress Friday' to kick things off, and although the campsite is often booked up well in advance, there are plenty of Stirling and Dundee hostels for budget accommodation.
A Beach break in Skye
The Isle of Skye is the largest of the Hebrides, and with over a thousand miles of coast, you are never more than five miles from the sea. Inland the scenery is romantic, with red-hued mountains and wild flowers, but in the summer the remote beaches are the main attraction, perfect for brooding walks. The chopping waves may be too cold for an afternoon dip, but luckily there are plenty of famed restaurants to discover, serving up fresh local seafood. Despite its remote location, there are several cosy hostels on the Isle of Skye, making this a bargain break on the beach.