2016 marks the “Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design” in Scotland; it follows the “Year of Food and Drink,” though fear not, there are plenty of innovative culinary programs that will have your groups loosening their belts in no time. Scotland’s Highlands offer centuries-old Highland Games with interesting opportunities for noshing on traditional Scottish cuisine. One case in point is “haggis hurling,” a sport that makes use of the country’s national dish—meat, oatmeal, onions, salt and spices—in a creative way: by hurling it as far as possible without ruining its edibility. Haggis, including vegetarian and novelty varieties such as haggis flavored ice cream and chocolate, is readily available throughout Scotland, but the Highland Games—which is more of a cultural extravaganza of traditional sports, music, food and clan celebrations—is available only in summer months.
Experiential culinary programs actually abound throughout the country—from chocolate making workshops and cocktails (minimum six attendees) at Getting Gooey in Livingston to cheese making in the charming fishing village of Anstruther or whisky blending and tastings at Scotland’s oldest working distillery—the Glenturret Distillery, in the heart of Perthshire. Glenturret also recently added the Wilde Thyme at Glenturret café and restaurant, which includes not to be missed Strathearn Pie, a special dish created for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during a recent visit. Groups visiting Perthshire should also book Highland Safaris, winner of the “best visitor experience in Scotland,” which combines local cuisine with Land Rover safaris, gold and gem panning and cycling and hiking tours.
In Southwest Scotland, groups can take a stroll through the country’s designated foodie town, Castle Douglas Food Town in Dumfries, with 50 traditional independent shops. This past April, Loch Lomond Boating Holidays opened up the stunning Loch Lomond’s 22 islands for group exploration—from simply taking in the views to stopping off for ales and fayre at local pubs, a round of golf on world-renowned courses or lochside hiking and cycling.