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Free Weekend success

25 April 2007

Historic Scotland is delighted to announce an impressive turnout for its annual Free Weekend when visitors can see 75 great heritage attractions without paying a penny.

Provisional figures show that 73,900 people enjoyed a free day out at castles, abbeys and other ancient monuments on 21 Saturday and Sunday 22 April 2007.

This was the second highest ever Free Weekend number, well ahead of Historic Scotland’s own target of 60,000 – and figures from some sites are still coming in.

It was also 16,450 above the average Free Weekend turnout of around 57,450.

Fiona Docherty, Head of Visitor Services and Business Development at Historic Scotland said: "We are thrilled that the Free Weekend was such a success. It shows how much people treasure Scotland’s fabulous heritage."

The Free Weekend attracts people of all ages and from all walks of life to make the most of the historic attractions at the heart of their communities.

Extra staff were on duty at key sites and special arrangements – such as a park and ride option at Stirling Castle – were put in place to handle to the crowds.

Fiona continued: "Even though the Free Weekend brings exceptionally high visitor numbers, we strive to make sure their experience is as special as on any other day of the year. And I would like to thank all the Historic Scotland staff who volunteered their services over the weekend to help us handle the extra visitors. They made sure that people were welcomed with a smile and that the drizzle did not dampen our visitors’ spirits."

Attracting nearly 74,000 was especially pleasing as this year’s Free Weekend did not coincide with a normally busy period, such as school or bank holidays.
Fiona added: "Our targets are always geared to achieving a major increase in the number of visitors who would normally be expected for the time of year. This year’s target was ambitious and it is great to see that we not only passed it, but reached our second-highest ever figure."

The 2007 Free Weekend was supported in communication by a nationwide TV campaign reaching all over Scotland and the North of England.

Notes for editors
The Free Weekend of 2005 attracted 49,000 visitors. Last year, however, broke all the records with 103,000 visitors due to a special combination of factors meaning that it took place at the start of the Easter school break and at the opening of the tourist season.

A list of visitor numbers for some attractions involved in the Historic Scotland Free Weekend on 21 and 22 April is given below. Please note that the Palace of Holyrood House, Holyrood Abbey and Duff House (Banff) were not included in the Free Weekend.

The Free Weekend 2006 attracted new visitors to historic sites, with 20% having never visited an Historic Scotland attraction previously. Overall, visitor satisfaction ratings during the weekend were extremely high with 95% or more visitors citing they were ‘very satisfied’ with the service and overall experience at each of the attractions.

Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding properties in its care, including some of the country’s leading visitor attractions - Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace and Skara Brae. Some 75 of these visitor attractions are admission based and 270 are free entry. Visitor numbers can only be monitored at staffed sites.

Free Weekend Visitor Numbers

Property Year 2007 2006 2005
Dumfries and Galloway
Caerlaverock Castle 969 807 559
Cardoness Castle 179 137 82
New Abbey Corn Mill 287 194 144
Sweetheart Abbey 190 209 103
Dryburgh Abbey 616 559 315
Hermitage Castle 144 124 141
Jedburgh Abbey 500 485 366
Melrose Abbey 855 1033 640
Smailholm Tower 283 418 227
Edinburgh and Lothians
Blackness Castle 1394 1719 485
Craigmillar Castle 1151 1936 363
Dirleton Castle 1105 1922 754
Edinburgh Castle 25604 37404 21023
Linlithgow Palace 5118 6432 2023
Tantallon Castle 1090 1260 523
Glasgow, Clyde, Ayrshire
Bothwell Castle 500 343 89
Dumbarton Castle 472 945 212
Newark Castle 549 305 96
Rothesay Castle 545 158 113
Central and West
Argyll's Lodging 1988 3035 921
Castle Campbell 545 613 387
Doune Castle 790 1663 531
Dunstaffnage Castle 254 388 223
Iona Abbey 97 216 156
Stirling Castle 11390 17850 7728
St Andrews Castle 1777 2724 1070
St Andrews Cathedral 941 1185 500
Perthshire, Kinross & Angus
Arbroath Abbey 597 655 288
Edzell Castle 521 449 348
Elcho Castle 412 508 222
North and Grampian
Corgarff Castle 269 168 135
Elgin Cathedral 782 927 372
Urquhart Castle 2859 3703 2333
Bishop's & Earl's Palaces 296 186 132
Broch of Gurness 213 204 145
Maeshowe 281 259 269
Skara Brae 661 629 453

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871