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St Andrews Free Weekend success - Minister announces 11% increase in visitor numbers

8 December 2009

Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External Affairs, has hailed the success of the Historic Scotland St Andrew’s Free Weekend which attracted 11% more visitors than in 2008.

More than 39,700 visitors enjoyed trips to the 47 heritage attractions which waived their ticket prices on 28 and 29 November.

This compared to 35,000 in 2008, an increase of 11%.

Among them was Stirling Castle with more than 6,600 visitors, Urquhart Castle with 1,400, Linlithgow Palace with 1,334 and Edinburgh Castle – which was also open free on St Andrew’s Day itself – with nearly 25,000.

The free weekend was a key part of both the St Andrew’s Day celebrations and the finale of Homecoming Scotland 2009.

The Minister said: “This year’s free weekend was a tremendous success, with more sites open than last year and many more visitors.

“It was a great chance for people to enjoy Scotland’s heritage without paying a penny, and an excellent contribution to the Year of Homecoming finale.”

In keeping with tradition Edinburgh Castle was also open on St Andrew’s Day, 30th November, to allow people to view the nation’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny.

Notes for Editors


  • The Monday figures for Edinburgh Castle were 4,626 and are not included in the overall total for the free weekend. A typical November Monday would attract around 1,500 visitors.

  • Free admission was offered at the following Historic Scotland properties (sites marked NA for 2008 joined in with the free weekend for the first time this year):

Free weekend figures 2009 2008

  • Aberdour Castle                                                         253                        205
  • Arbroath Abbey                                                          293                        177
  • Arnol Blackhouse (Saturday only)                             6                            0
  • Blackness Castle                                                        550                        362
  • Bothwell Castle                                                           324                        125
  • Caerlaverock Castle                                                    178                       126
  • Cardoness Castle                                                          25                            6
  • Castle Campbell                                                          256                        193
  • Corgarff Castle                                                              22                           11
  • Craigmillar Castle                                                        618                         549
  • Craignethan Castle                                                        69                           45
  • Dallas Dhu Distillery                                                      50                           31
  • Dirleton Castle                                                             319                        288
  • Doune Castle                                                               424                        210
  • Dryburgh Abbey                                                           135                          82
  • Dumbarton Castle                                                        363                          81
  • Dunblane Cathedral    No figures collected
  • Dunfermline Palace                                                     173                        173
  • Dundrennan Abbey                                                       23                            4
  • Dunstaffnage Castle                                                      62                           56
  • Edinburgh Castle ( 2009 weekend + Monday)         24,810                   22,169
  • Edzell Castle                                                                 105                          40
  • Elgin Cathedral                                                               96                           51
  • Fort George                                                                  344                         218
  • Glasgow Cathedral (donation-based)                               No figures collected
  • Huntingtower Castle                                                     202                           80
  • Huntly Castle                                                                  59                           29
  • Iona Abbey                                                                      11                          16
  • Jedburgh Abbey                                                              73                          82
  • Linlithgow Palace                                                       1,334                     1,032
  • Maeshowe Chambered Cairn                                         32                          14
  • Melrose Abbey                                                              216                        229
  • New Abbey Corn Mill                                                      45                            4
  • Rothesay Castle                                                            141                          36
  • Skara Brae                                                                    102                           34
  • Smailholm Tower                                                            70                           43
  • Spynie Palace                                                                 58                           43
  • St Andrews Castle                                                         661                      1,229
  • St Andrews Cathedral                                                   376                         747
  • St Vigeans Museum                                                        32                          NA
  • Stanley Mills                                                                   271                         NA
  • Stirling Castle                                                             6,655                       3,754
  • Sweetheart Abbey                                                           57                          NA
  • Tantallon Castle                                                            323                           302
  • Tolquhon Castle                                                Awaiting figures                    183
  • Trinity House                                                                  208                            25
  • Urquhart Castle                                                           1,402                        1,086

  • The free weekend also heralded the start of the Winter Festival season in Scotland (running from St Andrew’s Day to Burns Night) which showcases Scotland as a year-round visitor destination helping to boost revenue from tourism.

  • Historic Scotland’s mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

  • Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For information on all sites visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places For details on Edinburgh Castle visit www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk and on Stirling Castle, visit www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.



For further information


Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing Manager
Marketing
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871
rebecca.hamilton@scotland.gsi.gov.uk