As reluctant as it may seem, summer is finally about to hit Scotland. With the economy still looking tight, we’ve decided to put together a selection of cheap or free events occurring in Scotland this summer to give you great ideas for fun days out without having to break the bank.


Festivals are an increasingly popular summer pastime in Britain and Scotland has some of the best around. Although Scotland has some of the best value for money up-and-coming weekend festivals around – the pick of the bunch being the Wickerman Festival, weekend pass £90 – here are some events that don’t cost a penny.

Edinburgh Fringe, 3-27 August

The world’s largest comedy and arts festival is guaranteed to thrill all attendees, and with hundreds of free shows and events going on you could discover the Next Big Thing without shelling out a penny. Full programme announced 31 May.

Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival, 20-29 July

From big bands to swing, there’s something for everyone. Although tickets can be expensive, student concessions are £5 and kids go free to concerts at Queen’s Hall, Hub and George Square, while the free Mardi Gras Parade and concert in Grassmarket always kicks events off splendidly.

Merchant City Festival, Glasgow, 25-29 July

Combining with Olympic football events this year, Glasgow’s annual Merchant City Festival offers a five-day celebration of music, dance and theatre, with over 300 events celebrating the cultural richness of Glasgow’s old quarter. Hotly-anticipated highlights include the emergence (and subsequent destruction) of a giant tower, along with tours by the mythical Big Man.

Highland Games

The Highland Games are world-famous and for a traditional day-out cannot be beaten. With over 60 such gatherings listed on the Scottish tourist board website, we’ve tried to showcase ones from around the country – but there are plenty more out there!

Aberdeen Highland Games

Although the Cowal Highland Gathering can lay claim to being the largest Games in Scotland, for value for money Aberdeen’s games cannot be beaten. With musical performances in the morning followed by the afternoon’s physical feats, it’s always a memorable day for the family.

Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen; 17 June; Adult £6/£7 (after 12noon), Children £3.

Dundonald Highland Games

Now entering its 23 year, these games are held under the shadows of the picturesque Royal DundonaldCastle.Events include Piping, Highland Dancing, Heavy Events and more.

Dundonald Castle, Ayrshire; 4 August; Entry Free.

Ceres Highland Games

The oldest free games in Scotland, Ceres has held annual games since 1314,when Robert Bruce granted a charter in recognition of their support at Bannockburn. Truly authentic.

Ceres, Fife; 30 June; Entry Free.

Quirky Events

If you fancy checking out something alternative which you can be certain you’ll never have experienced before, Scotland has more than its fair share of odd events. For the intrepid explorer there are tons out there, but these are our pick of the bunch:

Scottish Traditional Boat Festival

Showcasing Scotland’s rich nautical history, this maritime extravaganza offers Ceilidhs and an extensive Food Fayre in addition to sailing and exhibitions. Thousands attend annually and it makes for great family fun.

Portsoy, Aberdeenshire; 23-24 June; Entry Free.

Largs Viking Festival

This week-long festival commemorates Scotland’s heritage and is a brilliant way to keep the kids entertained. Highlights include a fully-functioning model Viking village and the re-enactment of 1263 Battle of Largs, followed by the burning of Viking Longship and a firework display on the 8.

Largs, Ayrshire; 1-9 September; Adults £3, Concessions £1 (per day).

Thunder in the Glens

Europe’s biggest Harley Davison rally is back, with over 3,000 bikes registering for the event in 2010 alone. Although the majority of events are open to HOG members alone, soaking up the atmosphere in picturesque scenery is still a thrill in itself.

Aviemore; 24-27 August; Spectating Free.

Special Deals Online

Of course, if you don’t have the time, money or desire to venture far away from home this summer there are plenty of great days out available in your home town online.

Although many deal-of-the-day sites have sprung up for Scotland, for sheer breadth of choice our vote has to go to Groupon. With new discounts available daily for Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Falkirk and Stirling and Glasgow on various activities and events, it’s a great way to make the savings count this year.