Unmissable experiences, events and attractions

by Sara Barton, 5th February 2024
Kitchen Coos & Ewes | Newton Stewart
Unmissable experiences, events and attractions

Whether you’re a newcomer to the South of Scotland or a seasoned visitor, there’s a plethora of events and attractions awaiting your discovery! Be it brand new or beloved classics, these experiences deserve a prime spot on your must-visit list. And to help guide you, we’re thrilled to present the cream of the crop— the finalists from our esteemed tourism accolades, the 2023 South of Scotland Thistle Awards.  

Outstanding Events

Spring Fling

The Spring Fling Open Studios Weekend, will see more than 100 specially selected artists and makers across Dumfries and Galloway throw open their doors to welcome the public. What an opportunity to see artists at work in their own environments! Visitors can follow six colour-coded routes around studios throughout the region – in some cases there are bus tours to selected venues. There are often special evening openings and demonstrations as well as gallery shows across the area to support this fantastic creative initiative.

Spring Fling Open Studios Weekend will take place from 25-27 May 2024.

Newton Stewart and Minnigaff Traditional Music and Dance Festival

The Newton Stewart and Minnigaff Traditional Music and Dance Festival is a three day celebration of Scottish Traditional music, dance and language featuring concerts, workshops, piping and Highland Dance competions, tune and song sessions. Some of the industry’s very best artists come to play and teach, affording an extra special experience for those who attend. Celebrating its 10th year this summer, the festival will be held at the Vault Arts Centre in Newton Stewart over the 12th-14th July 2024.

Newton Stewart and Minnigaff Traditional Music and Dance Festival will take place from 12-14 July 2024.

Stranraer Oyster Festival

Celebrating the wild native oysters found in nearby Loch Ryan, the Stranraer Oyster Festival has grown in popularity year on year. Scotland’s spice king, chef Tony Singh is in his third year as Chef Ambassador supporting the festival.

“What the community of Stranraer have achieved with their oyster festival is remarkable, and I’m delighted to support it. If you’re able to visit, I’d encourage you to support it too. It’s organised and run by the community themselves, and the festival is an inspiring example of what can be achieved when a community comes together to celebrate everything that’s delicious about their local area,” says Tony.

In addition to Chef Singh, chefs Clodagh McKenna, Michael Caines, Julie Lin and Felicity Cloake have done demonstrations in the kitchen. Don’t miss the annual Shuck Off where competitors race to remove the notoriously tricky shells faster than their rivals. Add to this live music, family fun, artisan producers and thousands upon thousands of delicious native oysters and a warm welcome and you are sure to have an oyster extravaganza weekend.

chefs standing in front of native oysters, Colin Hattersley
Celebrity chefs and local oysters will converge at the Stranraer Oyster Festival from 13-15 September 2024.

Borders Book Festival

The Borders Book Festival is a fabulous, four-day festival focusing on the written word with talks and discussions featuring a host of authors, journalists, politicians, celebrities and sports people. Expect to find news of the programme and release of tickets in the spring on the social media sites of the festival. The festival takes place in the Harmony Gardens in Melrose in mid-June each year and was recognised as the winner of the Outstanding Cultural Event category in the South of Scotland Thistle Awards.

Borders book festival
Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scottish Borders will be from 13-16 June 2024.

Visitor Attractions

Dalscone Farm

Dalscone Farm in Dumfries is an outdoor activity centre and farm park that has garnered a worldwide audience via its Facebook Live Streams. It is home to Fiona, Scotland’s loneliest sheep, along with other farm animal favourites who regularly appear on the online streaming feeds on social media. In the real world, visitors to the farm can expect super guest experiences at the inside soft play area, outdoor adventure areas and of course visiting the multitude of farm animals.

Dalscone Farm – animals, outdoor activities and soft play areas – fun for children of all ages.

The Devil’s Porridge Museum

The Devil’s Porridge Museum at Eastriggs near Gretna Green pays tribute to HM Factory Gretna, which was the world’s largest munitions factory during the First World War. A five-star visitor attraction, the Devil’s Porridge Museum offers an insight into the world wars as well as the effect of the factory and wars on the surrounding area. Its name comes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who visited the factory and remarked the cordite for the shells looked like ‘porridge of a devilish sort’. This modern museum with interactive exhibits also includes a 1940s house for young and old to marvel at life during the war years.

One of the pans in which ‘the porridge of a devilish sort’ or cordite was mixed for use as ammunition during the wars.

Trimontium Museum

The Trimontium Museum in Melrose is Scotland’s only site dedicated to the Roman and Iron Age with the actual site of Trimontium, a Roman fortress circa 80AD, located just outside town. The museum was renovated recently and displays artefacts unearthed at the archaelogical digs of the fortress – you can even handle 3-D printed replicas of some of them – and see drone imaging of both the local and national Iron age and Roman sites in the museum’s audio visuals. It is easy to see how this gem of a museum captured the Best Visitor Attraction award.  

Trimontium Museum in Melrose is Scotland’s only museum dedicated to the Roman and Iron age period.

Adventurous Experiences


Based close to the 7stanes trail centres of Glentress and Innerleithen, Ridelines offers skills coaching for everyone from beginners to experienced riders wanting to improve their skills. Run by passionate cyclists who love what they do, in addition to educational sessions and courses, Ridelines offers guided tours in the stunning scenery of the Tweed Valley and beyond. Whatever your group size or experience, Ridelines offers a tailored approach to your off-road cycling needs.

Ridelines offers an array of guiding and coaching services.

Beirhope Alpacas

One of the more unusual options for a family walk is to take an alpaca along! Yes, these cute and cuddly South American natives enjoy nothing more than a stroll. So whether you fancy a walk or just a meet & greet think four legged friends for your next outing. Based in the midst of the stunning Cheviot Hills Beirhope Alpacas offer frequent seasonal events as well as walks with superb views.

Get up close and personal with these adorable alpacas amongst the stunning scenery of the Cheviot Hills.

Kitchen Coos and Ewes

For a outdoor experience par excellence visit Kitchen Coos and Ewes near Newton Stewart. Choose from fabulous tours of the farm’s Highland Cows or get up close and personal with a Hands On Coo tour! There are delightful country kitchen bakes for when you are finished – or splurge and indulge in a full on Highland Cow experience followed by a delightful picnic. This rural location offers a day out to make the whole family happy with magical memories to take away. It is easy to see how it was chosen for the Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience.

Happy coo view, KC&E
From a customised viewing trailor, you can get up close to these magnificient beasts.