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Heritage attractions open doors for free

7 November 2011

Over 40 of Scotland’s top heritage attractions will be opening their doors for free this November.

Historic Scotland is once again offering free admission to its winter ticketed attractions including Scotland’s number one tourist attraction, Edinburgh Castle, the newly refurbished renaissance palace at Stirling Castle, and Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness as part of its St. Andrews ‘Visit For Free’ programme.

Visitors simply need to register in advance at a special website to download their free weekend pass which gives free access for up to two adults and three children to all ticketed Historic Scotland properties on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th November.

Edinburgh Castle and St. Andrews Castle and Cathedral will also be free to walk up visitors on the 30th November to give the opportunity to view the Honours of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny on Scotland’s national day which both reside at Edinburgh Castle.

The ‘Visit for Free’ programme is part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals – which celebrates three of the country’s most distinctive festivals- St. Andrews Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said;

“Historic Scotland’s free admission is hugely popular with visitors and is a great way to kick start this years Winter Festivals campaign.

“Scotland is home to some of the most magnificent castles, abbeys and palaces in the world and this is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate St. Andrew by visiting one of these sites for free.”

This year there will also be a number of costumed performances happening at the sites. This includes The Legend of St. Andrews at St. Andrews Cathedral and special events at Edinburgh Castle. Meanwhile, a Winter Festival Family Quiz is being launched at Edinburgh Castle which will run until Burns Night, whilst the Gaelic Junior Guides will be conducting two special performances on St. Andrews Day itself.

Historic Scotland is also offering the opportunity to collect stamps at each site visited over the weekend. After they have collected their fifth sticker they are eligible to enter an online competition which offers Historic Scotland membership and a chance to win a VIP trip to either Stirling or Edinburgh Castles.

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism said;

“We’ve very pleased to open our doors for free this November.

“This year we will also be running special events at several of our sites over the weekend of the 26th and the 27th which are a great addition to the visitor experience and bring aspects of Scotland’s colourful past to life.

“Prospective visitors who want to visit at the weekend just need to ensure that they register in advance to have the opportunity of free access to some of the country’s top visitor attractions.”

Notes for editors

  • Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding heritage properties in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions and most important historic sites in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For details of all sites visit: For information on Edinburgh Castle, visit: and for details on Stirling Castle, visit

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

  • St Andrew’s Day heralds the start of Scotland’s Winter Festival.  Scotland’s Winter Festivals, which also includes Hogmanay and Burns Night, is a programme of exciting and distinctive events designed to celebrate Scotland’s contemporary and traditional culture and promote Scotland as a year round festival destination. Find out more at

  • For the past five years, Historic Scotland has opened its doors for free at a wide range of its properties as part of a special Scotland-wide St Andrew’s Day promotion in celebration of our national day.  

Historic Scotland sites open free are:

Arbroath Abbey
·Arnol Blackhouse (not open on Sunday 27th November)
·Blackness Castle
·Bothwell Castle
·Caerlaverock Castle
·Cardoness Castle
·Castle Campbell
·Corgarff Castle
·Craigmillar Castle
·Craignethan Castle
·Dallas Dhu Distillery
·Dirleton Castle
·Doune Castle
·Dryburgh Abbey
·Dumbarton Castle
·Dunblane Cathedral
·Dunfermline Palace
·Dundrennan Abbey
·Dunstaffnage Castle
·Edinburgh Castle
·Edzell Castle
·Elgin Cathedral
·Fort George
·Huntingtower Castle
·Huntly Castle
·Iona Abbey
·Jedburgh Abbey
·Linlithgow Palace
·Maeshowe Visitor Centre
·Melrose Abbey
·New Abbey Corn Mill
·Rothesay Castle
·Skara Brae
·Smailholm Tower
·Spynie Palace
·St Andrews Castle
·St Andrews Cathedral
·Stirling Castle
·Sweetheart Abbey
·Tantallon Castle
·Tolquhon Castle
·Urquhart Castle

Opening times for Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle are from 9.30am to 5pm. For all other properties listed above, opening times are from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

For further information

Iona Matheson
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858