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Find current news, events and up to the minute happenings around the city on the updated Stirling News pages.

Stirling News in 2012

Current Stirling news and up to the minute happenings in the city of Stirling.
January February March April May June July August September October November December


Black Bun Hogmanay Trains at the Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway

Hundreds of visitors will be heading to the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, near Falkirk at the end of December (Sunday and Monday, December 30 and 31) to travel on one of the last steam trains in Scotland this year. A nostalgic steam train journey in a cosy carriage, complimentary hot drink and a slice of traditional Hogmanay black bun for the adults and shortbread and juice for the kids will make a perfect family treat to end the year together in style at this unique event.

The cost for tickets is £9.50 for adults, £8.50 for concessions, £5.00 for children and family tickets are £24.00. This includes a return journey on this wonderful steam train and seasonal refreshments. Black bun is a type of fruit cake completely covered with pastry. It is Scottish in origin, originally eaten on Twelfth Night but now enjoyed at Hogmanay.

There is no need to pre-book your tickets, just come along on the day. Trains will be running from Bo’ness at 10.45, 12.15 and 14.05. Just be sure to be at the station in plenty of time. Relax aboard our trains and take in the stunning scenery along the shores of the firth of Forth, with views of the majestic Ochil Hills, beautiful woods and waterfalls on a 70 minute return journey to Manuel view point.

There is also a chance to buy some Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway First Foot coal which is especially packaged for guests who would like to keep this Hogmanay tradition alive. On 31 December, a piper will play on the trains and at Bo’ness Station adding to the atmosphere and whet appetites for the coming New Year celebrations.

The Scottish Railway Preservation Society, who are the operators of this annual event are looking forward to welcoming visitors to the site for this unique experience.

Pop-Up Cinema at the Allan Park Stirling

The Allan Park Cinema comes back to life on 22 December for two great Christmas films. Home Alone, the original Christmas family film that never grows old, providing nostalgia for grownups and an entertainment packed adventure for new younger audiences will be screening in the afternoon. 13:30 to 15:30. £3.50, or family ticket £11 for four.

Then, it wouldn’t be Christmas without it so, come along and enjoy It's a Wonderful Life, the movie of the season with all the trimmings in Stirling’s distinctive and original cinema. Entry includes mulled wine and mince pies for the perfect festive cinema treat. 17:30 to 19:30. £5 including mulled wine and mince pies.

Discover Christmas through the ages at Stirling Castle

Visitors to Stirling Castle will be able to step back in time to Christmases past this weekend. On Sunday (16th December) the castle will be taking visitors on a magical journey through time to discover how Christmas was celebrated through the ages from the renaissance period up until the modern day. Costumed performers will regale visitors with tales ranging from how the Stewart household celebrated the festive period, through to how Cromwell tried to ban Christmas. There will also be the opportunity to look at the origins of some of the traditions still in use today which stretch back to the Georgian and Victorian periods before spinning forward in time to the 1970’s to rediscover some of the more iconic gifts of the decade.

Visitors will also have the chance to see the palace kitchens being brought back to life as cooks prepare a sumptuous feast which will be laid out in the Great Hall during the afternoon, whilst young visitors will have the chance to make their very own Christmas cards.

Gillian MacDonald, Executive Manager at Stirling Castle said, "This is a great day out for all the family. There are so many fascinating stories behind Christmas and its traditions and visitors will be able to find out about these first hand when they meet our costumed performers spanning the centuries. It's also a great way to celebrate the festive season and get away from all the last minute preparations whilst finding out more about Christmas in years gone by."

Entry to all of the activities are included as part of the entrance fee. For further information please visit

Santa and his Sleigh

Stirling and Bridge of Allan Round Table Fireworks display raised over £6000 for local good causes and they are now gearing up for their December fund raising campaign. Listen out and keep watching the streets for Santa and his helpers who will be touring the streets in the build up to the big day.

Santa will be out and about from 6pm on the following dates:

Friday December 14- Cambuskenneth, Westhaugh estate and Forth Park.

Monday December 17 - Inverallan Road, Allan Walk, Fishers Green and Hopetoun Estate, including Alexander Drive and John Murray Drive.

Tuesday December 18th - Lower Bridge of Allan, including Westerlea, Cornton Crescent, Pullar Avenue, Forglen Road, Castleview Drive, Strathallan Road and Orchard Road.

Wednesday December 19 - Cornton Road and Cornton estate - includes Haugh Road, Bracken Lane, Johnstone Avenue and Strathmore Drive.

Thursday December 20 - Causewayhead - includes estates at the Birds and Bees, Craiglea and Wallace Gardens.


Christmas Shopping With a Difference at Stirling Castle

Forget pounding the pavements of the high street and endlessly wandering shopping malls this Christmas and join Stirling Castle for a festive shopping experience with a difference. On Tuesday, (4th December), the castle is hosting its Christmas shopping event with a whole host of independent retailers offering unique gift ideas, many of which you won’t find on the high street.

Companies taking part in the event range from those offering handmade chocolates, stationery and organic skincare to cards, flowers and decorations. The evening will also feature a health and beauty area where you can get top tips for keeping healthy and looking glamorous this festive season.

Local distillery, Tullibardine, will be offering a free personalised labelling service on the evening, whilst artist Jonathan Wheeler will be signing artwork. There will also be carol singing by local school children in renaissance costume and a cafe with Christmas themed goodies for visitors.

The event kicks starts this year’s Christmas celebrations at the castle which also includes a special celebration of Christmas through the ages during the day on the 16th December, and Carols at the Castle that evening when the National Youth Choir of Scotland’s Stirling contingent return to the castle.

The shopping fayre is a fantastic way to get into the Christmas spirit, whilst having the opportunity to support independent retailers and find unique and special gifts for all the family. The fayre marks the start of our Christmas celebrations at the castle which are always hugely popular and a great way to celebrate Christmas in atmospheric surroundings.

Tickets for the shopping fayre cost £5 (which includes parking) and are available online at or on the door.

The Golden Thread Exhibition

Stirling Smith The Golden Thread Exhibition Image

Featuring work by Scottish contemporary artist/designer/poet Ann Tocoda, Scottish artist Frank McNab and Scottish artist/sculptor Yvonne Taylor along side paintings of national importance by Glasgow Boy - William Kennedy and the great Hugh Collins, as well as poetry written by Argyll Soldiers during the Great Wars.

The Golden Thread Exhibition The Scottish soldier, the poet, and the landscape is at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery until January 20. The exhibition connects three main themes; The Scottish soldier, Scottish literature, and Scottish landscape, and depicts the cultural heritage of Scotland’s national fabric through connective threads led by the history of The Scottish Soldier, his yearning for homeland and solace found through poetry and literature.

Visit the Stirling Smith page on the website to see what's On

Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat at the Tolbooth

Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat at the Tolbooth

Thu 22 Nov, 8pm

Some partnerships just work, even if it takes time. Eight years in the making, the debut album by Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat, Everything is Getting Older, is a special thing, full of gorgeous, jazz-inflected love songs fleshed out with a mixture of spoken word pieces and vocals delivered in Aidan's distinctive rhotic singing voice.

Wells is the Scottish multi-instrumentalist composer, leader of the Bill Wells Octet and collaborator with the Pastels, Isobel Campbell, Future Pilot AKA and many more.

Moffat is a man of many projects, whether his solo material released under his full name Aidan John Moffat, his band Aidan Moffat & The Best-Ofs or, in a former life his experimental work as L Pierre, Lucky Pierre and his long historyas one half of iconic Scots Dup Arab Strap.

The pair first met back in Moffat's Arab Strap days in - predictably - a pub, when Aidan and bandmate Malcom Middleton invited Bill to play piano on their Monday At The Hug & Pint album.

Their album, Everything's Getting Older, released in 2011 to critical acclaim, won the inaugural Scottish Album of the year award earlier this year.

"Setting Moffat's half spoken, half sung laments to Wells' mournful piano and muted trumpet, their songs are a revelation realised here with tumbledown grace". The Guardian.

See What's On at the Tolbooth in November

Book Week Scotland

As a partner of the Scottish Book Trust for Book Week Scotland, macrobert arts centre at the University of Stirling will be holding a national week-long celebration of reading from 26 November - 2 December. Macrobert will be hosting a variety of events during the week. All events are free, but booking is essential as places are limited. Please contact the macrobert box office on 01786 466666 for details of how to reserve a ticket.

There is a rare opportunity to explore the University of Stirling Library’s Penguin Books collection, you can meet Anita Govan, Stirling’s new Makar, for a fun and lively chat with performance or join the macrobert Book Group for a meet the author session with author Jennie Erdal talking about her book The Missing Shade of Blue.

Find full details at What's On in Stirling.

Don't Be Late For The Ball

Macrobert's fantastic five-star pantomime returns from 28 November to 31 December. Featuring a girl, a prince, a missing shoe and, you guessed it, two very ugly sisters - Cinderella is an all-time classic and loved by adults and children alike. And this year, for the first time ever, there are going to be performances on Sundays, which means you’ll have even more chances to catch Scotland’s best-loved Christmas show.

Poor Ella, her cruel stepmother makes her work day and night. She dreams of dancing with a handsome prince, but the infamous ugly sisters are inescapable, she has nothing to wear, her fairy godmother has gone Christmas shopping and she is running out of time…

By Johnny McKnight and Directed By Julie Brown, Chock full of songs, laughter, magic and mischief, don't miss this enchanting and hilarious take on the most popular panto of them all.

Don't be late for the ball- book now.

Wed 28 November 2012 - Mon 31 December 2012
Price: Tickets From Just £13.
Read more about Cinderella at the What's On at the macrobert section of the website.

The Intoxicating Rose Garden - West-Eastern New Music and Dance

A new collaborative work between Sally Beamish, Michael Popper, Jila Peacock, Laurie Irvine and the Red Note Ensemble at the Tolbooth, Stirling on Thursday November 15, 8pm.

Red Note (A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle and Noisy Nights) return with, The Intoxicating Rose Garden, a new hybrid work which takes Sally Beamish's settings of poems by Hafez, the 14th century Persian mystic, as its starting-point.

Combining music, song, dance and animated image, it explores the longing and separation, as well as the sense of belonging and completeness that are so present in Hafez's poems: elements that somehow conflict with and complement one another in the same moment. The animated images are based on Jila Peacock's renderings of Hafez poetry in figural calligraphy.

Red Note Ensemble will be joined by the multi-faceted dancer/choreographer, Michael Popper, and the outstanding young Iranian sitar player Anoosh Jahanshahi, who will perform his own Songs from Hafez in traditional Persian classical style.

Tickets £12/£10. Read more about the The Intoxicating Rose Garden at What's On in Stirling.

The Halton Quartet at the Tolbooth

To mark the launch of BASED ON TRUE EVENTS, the superb debut release by The Halton Quartet, the quartet will be playing three more dates in Scotland and are at the Tolbooth on Friday 30th November

Comprising the collective talents within two of Scotland’s most innovative and captivating duos, The Halton Quartet may be more familiar to audiences as Angus Lyon and Ruaridh Campbell, and Wingin’ It. Angus Lyon and Ruaridh Campbell are widely accepted as one of Scotland’s most creative fiddle and accordion duos. Although now concentrating their efforts on the Halton Quartet, so recognised are the duo that, in January 2010, they appeared at Celtic Connections, in Glasgow, alongside the ten-times Grammy award winner and world-renowned vocalist, Bobby McFerrin.

"…they take the idea of folk into a whole new realm" Q Magazine

"…engaging music from a modern string and reed quartet." The Scotsman

"…this is joyful, sometimes beautifully melancholic and frequently glorious melody-making, supported by inventive rhythmic, harmonic and tonal variations that add momentum, richness, wit and exhilaration." The Herald

Tickets £12. Read more about the The Halton Quartet at What's On in Stirling.


Stirling Local Development Plan update

Following the submission by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) of a report to Stirling Council on the proposal to develop housing on Airthrey Kerse, the plan has been removed from the council’s proposed local development plan. SEPA’s objection not only raises critical concerns about the extent and scale of flooding on the site, but also on surrounding communities as waters are diverted away from the development. Even if you discounted the overwhelming objections over loss of greenbelt and community identity there is now an undeniable problem with the physical viability of the site itself.

Cllr Mark Ruskell voted against Stirling Council’s draft Local Development Plan (LDP) at a recent meeting after the plan failed to address a number of key green concerns. Following SEPA’s objection to the 800 house proposal by Graham’s Dairies, the allocation for the development was removed from the plan, but a zone on the Causewayhead side still remains a possibility if developers can provide a technical solution to the flooding issue. Green Councillor Mark Ruskell welcomes the Airthrey proposal removal but warns of continued threats.

In addition, the LDP re-asserts the Stirling Council Local Transport Strategy and specifically references the Kildean-Uni link road in the plan. As a result Green Cllr Ruskell voted against the whole plan which was was eventually passed by 11 votes to 10 with one abstention. Cllr Ruskell first raised an objection to the link road in 2007 while he was an MSP and has supported community concerns about a potential re-emergence of the scheme in the intervening years.

After last night’s vote he said, "The plan continues to make progress, but while I welcome the removal of the Airthrey development, there remains a risk that a revised proposal comes forward on the Causewayhead side of the Kerse – despite the objections of SEPA to development across the whole area. Communities need to be vigilant to continued threats and the new plan also protects a corridor for the Kildean-Uni link road, which if developed would be disastrous, generating traffic growth and destroying the very green belt the community has fought so hard to successfully protect."

In the debate, Ruskell also raised the positive potential for housing development on the soon to be vacant Cornton Vale prison site while welcoming the potential for Durieshill to be a new eco - town. He added, "I’m disappointed that the plan fails to recognise that the Cornton Vale prison site could be an empty wasteland by 2014 with no proposal for re-use such as housing. If the area is being sterilised to accommodate the Kildean-Uni Link road then we need to know now, but there are far better uses for the site. Durieshill offers an exciting opportunity to design a 21st Century sustainable community from scratch, built around the needs of people rather than traffic with good safe spaces for recreation, housing, retail and work all within a walkable distance, if designed properly it could be a model eco-town."

Round Table Charity Fireworks

Themed Going for Gold a Celebration of 2012, the Round Table Award Winning, Bonfire and Fireworks display will be on Monday 5th November at Strathallan Games Park, Bridge of Allan.

Also appearing will be the UK's top Take That tribute band Simply Take That with support from Ted Christopher's Bannockburn. ther will also be Hot Food, Side Stalls and novelties available. All proceeds go to Charity and local Good Causes.

Gates Open at 5.45pm, Entertainment from 6.00pm, Bonfire at 7.15pm, Fireworks at 7.30pm.

Adults £4.00, Students £3.00, Schoolkids and OAPs £2.00.
Exclusive Family Discount and standard tickets are available by pre-booking at the Albert Halls, Stirling or alternatively pay at the gate on the night.

The Mither Tongue at Stirling Castle

Visitors to Stirling Castle this weekend can enjoy the delights of the Scots language in a special event showcasing the "mither tongue" with an extravaganza of storytelling, guided tours and food displays. The richness of the Scots language and its modern relevance will also be reflected in a public challenge to create new Scots words.

Commented Historic Scotland’s Visitor Experience Manager at Stirling Castle, Eleanor Muir: "Scots is a vibrant, living language and we hope to capture some of its unique flavour with events for all the family. You don’t have to be fluent in Scots to get an understanding of what is being said, and we’ve tailored the programme accordingly. Normal tours of the Castle will be interspersed with tours celebrating the Scots used by the Court, nobles, clerics and men of law."

The "Mither Tongue" includes family storytelling in the Great Hall, a "Scots table" display of food and utensils with names verbally interpreted, a visual description of clothing from the sixteenth century to the present day, and a Scots word challenge in the Chapel Royal - hosted by The Scots Language Dictionary Society in a dictionary corner.

The "Mither Tongue" event is included in the normal Stirling Castle admission price, and takes place this weekend, on Saturday, October 20th and Sunday, October 21st, during normal opening hours (9.30am to 5pm, last admission 45 minutes before closing).

The event is included in the admission price for Stirling Castle. Find out more about Stirling Castle in the Stirling sightseeing guide.


New Tolbooth What's On guide for October - December is out now

The Tolbooth's new What's On guide for October - December is out now. This season, sees a whole host of fantastic artists, music, comedy, ceilidhs and classes to entertain and stimulate you through the autumn and winter.

The new season has a strong focus on some of the finest women performers from the trad world, with the legend that is Peggy Seeger, a warm return to both Kathryn Tickell and Karine Polwart, and the only Scottish date by Eliza Carthy and her Mum Norma Waterson, a performance that had to be cancelled a few years back due to Norma's illness.

A rare foray into theatre, with two one-man shows from Arches Theatre featuring emerging stars of Scottish theatre, Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair who both received considerable plaudits at this year's Edinburgh Fringe. And we have a talk on Bob Dylan, along with loud music and rare footage from Michael Gray, who is exploring Dylan's influences from the Blues.

ReLoaded Fest is back in October, with a packed line up including headliners Errors and Broken Records. Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat return to the Tolbooth for the first time since their album, Everything’s Getting Older, won the inaugural Scottish Album of the year award earlier this year.

Find out more about What's On at the Tolbooth.

Battle of Bannockburn is brought to life at Stirling Castle

The story of one of Scotland’s most famous battles, The Battle of Bannockburn, is to be brought to life at Stirling Castle. The events leading up to the Battle are to be told at the castle later this month, as part of the build up to the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of the battle in 2014. Historic Scotland, which runs the castle, is planning to hold a series of events leading up to the anniversary which will tell the different aspects of the battle’s story. The first event, which will take place over the weekend of 22nd and 23rd September, will tell the story of the Wars of Independence, William Wallace and the early career of Robert the Bruce.

The castle played a key role in the Wars of Independence, changing hands eight times between 1296 and 1342. In the ten years leading up to the battle the castle was held by the English. Under siege by the Scots, King Edward II of England led a 17,000-strong army to Stirling to relieve the castle siege before being defeated by Robert the Bruce’s army at Bannockburn, in sight of Stirling Castle.

Key highlights at the event will include a living encampment set up within the castle grounds and the opportunity to meet historical re-enactors playing key characters from the period including Robert The Bruce and Sir William Oliphant, Captain of the Castle, who will tell how he and thirty men tried to hold the castle against the might of Edward I. Visitors can also learn about the weaponry used in the wars including combat demonstrations by re-enactors.

Gillian Urquhart, Events Manager at Historic Scotland said, "Stirling Castle has played a key role in some of the most famous events in Scottish history, including the Wars of Independence, so it is a fitting setting to tell the story of this most infamous of battles. Visitors are fascinated to know more about this intriguing part of Scotland’s history and through this series of special events we’ll explore difference aspects of the story. This initial event is designed to introduce visitors to the background to the Wars of Independence and its key characters who played a huge part in Scotland’s history, in a way that will entertain and inform young and old alike."

Historic Scotland is currently working with The National Trust for Scotland on a ?5 million project to create a new visitor centre at Bannockburn in time for the 700th anniversary.? This landmark project will see Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland work in partnership, on behalf of the Scottish Government to deliver a world class visitor attraction incorporating an immersive digital experience designed to transport visitors back in time to the fourteenth century battle.

The event is included in the admission price for Stirling Castle. Find out more about Stirling Castle in the Stirling sightseeing guide.

Off The Page - Stirling Book Festival

8 - 15 September 2012

Now in its seventh year, off the page is once more bringing an exciting programme of events to Stirling. Highlights this year include talks from adventurer Mark Beaumont, broadcaster Sally Magnusson and writer Alan Bissett. Local poet Billy Letford will be launching his new book and there will be an Off the Page ceilidh.

Among the authors appearing as part of the full programme of children’s events will be Julia Donaldson, as part of her Scottish Book Trust Tour, Stuart Reid and Andy Briggs. Bookbug will also be visiting some of our libraries.

Off the Page will share the Friday evening event with Bloody Scotland, the first Scottish International Crime Writers Festival, being held from 14–16 September in Stirling.

Events are taking place throughout the Stirling Council area, so something is sure to be happening near you.

Find out more about the Stirling Book Festival in our What's On guide


Stirling Castle voted best loved historic attraction by Which? members

Stirling Castle has beaten attractions such as The Tower of London, The Houses of Parliament and Hampton Court Palace to be rated the UK’s favourite heritage attraction. The survey of Which? members rated the castle - which was home to a young Mary, Queen of Scots - as the UK’s top heritage attraction, impressing in areas such as value for money, customer service and quality of information.

The castle, which is run by Historic Scotland, re-opened its palace apartments to the public last June following a 12 million restoration of its interiors to how they may have looked in young Mary’s time. Years of research were carried out by archaeologists, historians and other scholars to ensure that every detail – from the furniture to the heraldic decorations on the walls and ceilings – was as authentic as possible. Key highlights include a set a replicas of the Stirling Heads – often referred to as Scotland’s other crown jewels – which adorn the ceiling of the Kings inner chamber. Many of the original surviving heads, which feature intricate carved images inspired by royalty, heraldry and mythology have been brought back together in a special exhibition.

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Scotland said,
"Stirling Castle was home to the Stewart Kings and Queens, arguably the most famous dynasty in Scottish history. At this time Stirling Castle and its palace were the height of renaissance grandeur and knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors would flock to the royal court to revel in its opulence. Through the palace project we wanted to recreate this experience for visitors by creating something entirely different to anything currently available in the Scottish market. It’s fantastic to see the response by visitors who have visited the castle in their hundreds of thousands since the reopening of the palace and to be recognised as the UK’s favourite heritage attraction is a huge honour and testament to the hard work of all the team."

"We know that visitors are increasingly looking for value for money and we want to ensure that we offer as competitive a proposition as possible. As well as having costumed performers in the palace all year round we also offer activities at the castle for all the family. These range from special children’s activities during the October holidays to our annual Christmas programme and themed events, and Historic Scotland members can benefit from free entry to the castle which includes all of the standalone events throughout the year. The castle has witnessed some of most famous events in Scottish history and we want it to be somewhere that visitors return again and again to create new memories."

Find out more about Stirling Castle in the Stirling sightseeing guide.

Heidi Talbot back at the Tolbooth

Irish singer Heidi Talbot makes a welcome return to the Tolbooth to showcase some work from her new album and this time will be joined by John McCusker, Kris Drever and Iain Carr.

Talbot's breakthrough solo release, 2008's In Love + Light, mixed traditional and contemporary material, reinvented classics and little known gems, winning glowing reviews accross three continents, as a US Indie Acoustic Award and best female vocalist nomination at the Irish Music Awards. Heidi's follow-up The last Star was equally successful winning critical acclaim.

Compared to Bjork, Enya, Linda Ronstadt, Norah Jones and Kirsty MacColl. Don't miss this acclaimed artist in an intimate performace.

Fri 7 Sep, 8pm £12/£10

Find out more about What's On at the Tolbooth.

Monty Python Quest at Doune Castle

And now for something completely different.

Come along to the magnificent medieval Doune Castle on Sunday 16th September 2012 for the annual Monty Python inspired event. Doune Castle featured in many of the scenes in the 1974 cult film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a parody of the legend of King Arthur, starring Michael Palin, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam.

Gillian Urquhart, Historic Scotland’s Events Manager said: "This is one of our most entertaining and surreal events. Dress up as your favourite character and take part in our Monty Python Idol competition. See some of the most popular comic sketches being recreated and take part in the silly sing-a-long. It is also a good chance to brush up on your knowledge of sparrow to coconut weight ratios and take part in our special quiz. We will be running our Monty Python and the Holy Trail, and there will be a prize for the best costume."

The Monty Python event takes place from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, tickets are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment. Adults £13:00, Concession £10.00, Child £7.20 (10% discount for Historic Scotland members). Book online in advance at

Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival at Duncarron Fort, Carron Valley

After the success of last year's Doune the Rabbit Hole, the festival returns bigger and better with at least 6 stages including the main Jabberwocky stage, Tenement TV stage, Longhouse spoken word stage and the Baino experimental stage. Over the weekend of Friday August 24 to Sunday August 26, around 150 acts will be appearing and the fabulous line up includes King Creosote, Pram, the Phantom Band, Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard, Hidden Orchestra, Malcolm Middleton and Scottish album of the year winners, Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells. Due to unforeseen circumstances, this year's festival will take place on a unique site at Duncarron Fort, Carron Valley. A fort and medieval village is currently under construction by the Clanranald Trust.

Doune the Rabbit Hole CIC is a very, very small company with some great ideas and plans. All profits from the festival will help to provide free creative arts education outside school for kids who can’t afford to be privately educated. Their aim is to put on affordable, interesting and family friendly events which are free for under 12s to attend so that they can get involved in the arts and culture from an early age. Young and disadvantaged people will be able to experience skills like playing instruments, sculpting, writing poetry, animation and anything else you can think of that might be termed "art".

Tickets for this year’s festival are are now on sale and prices start at £58 for children, up to £88 for the whole weekend with camping. Under 12s are free but must be accompanied. Day tickets are also now available for £30.

As parking will be limited and access to the site is via narrow country lanes, shuttle buses will run from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station and from Larbert railway station to the festival site.

Visitors to Stirling Castle will be able to follow in the footsteps of the bard

Visitors to Stirling Castle will be able to follow in the footsteps of Scotland’s national bard later this month. The castle is offering special ‘Burns’ themed tours on 26th and 27th August to mark the anniversary of his visit to the castle.

Burns visited Stirling Castle during his grand tour of Scotland in 1787 and was greatly influenced by the personalities, events and issues that had taken place there. This is evident in his work including the famous "Stirling Lines" which lamented the demise of the castle in the aftermath of the Stewart Kings and Queens.

The ruinous state of the castle at that time is said to have aroused Burns’ jacobitism, as he describes it through his poetry. The castle today is a very different experience, now painstakingly restored to its former glory. Most recently, this includes the restoration of the interior of the palace apartments to how they may have looked at the time of a young Mary, Queen of Scots, which has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors after re-opening to the public last June.

Gillian Macdonald, Executive Manager, Stirling Castle said, "Stirling Castle, the events which took place here and personalities who lived here, played an integral role in Scotland’s history, which provided a source of inspiration to Burns. Visitors to the castle will be able to find out more about these links through the tours as well as enjoy recitals from some of his work and we hope they enjoy finding out more about this fascinating story. The tours are included as part of the general admission price to the castle. Places are limited and are on a first come, first served basis."

Cowane’s Hospital Stirling receives Building Repair Grant

The A listed Cowane’s Hospital in Stirling is one of eight buildings in Scotland which is set to receive building repair grants totalling £1,900,970 from Historic Scotland. The hospital is a very rare survivor of an early 17th century civic institution, complete with its historic garden which has recently been added to the Gardens Inventory.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Minister for Culture and External Affairs said, "Scotland has a wealth of fascinating buildings and architecture and it is vital that we preserve these iconic buildings which help regenerate areas and communities. These grants not only help to breathe new fabric into the heart of the community and preserve our sense of history and heritage but also assist in attracting visitors, which in turns boosts Scotland’s economy."

Hazel Barton, Master and Factor, said, "This offer is excellent news for both Stirling and its visitors. We look forward to developing our proposals with Historic Scotland and bringing John Cowane’s wonderful and ancient legacy to life again."

The other grant recipients are the Campbeltown Picture House, believed to be Scotland’s earliest cinema, Sauchie Tower in Alloa, an early 15th century tower, built by the Governor of Stirling Castle, Tomintoul Croft in Braemar, a rare surviving 19th century croft cottage, with a remarkably intact historic interior including box beds in the roof space, Paisley Town Hall, Kelburn Castle, Largs, Caithness Row, New Lanark and Semple Park Cascades in? Renfrewshire, an 18th century cascade system, unique of its type in Scotland.

Brave at the macrobert Stirling

Come along to the macrobert and get all patriotic with Scotland's most aniticpated blockbuster Brave. Kind to your wallet and family friendly this is something you can treat the whole family too before the holidays are over.

Brave is the story of Merida, a skilled archer and impulsive daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom and when she turns to an eccentric old Wise Woman for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it's too late.

"Pixar's gorgeously coloured fantasy fairytale, set in a medieval highland Scotland, will disappoint nationalists but please fans of the studio's heartfelt nonconformity" The Guardian

Fri 3 Aug – Thu 16 Aug 1.00pm, 4.00pm and 7.00pm
Sat 11 Aug 11.00am – Kids Film Club Members only screening

The Art of the Owl in Stirling at the Smith

Until 21 September, A great flock of owls has taken roost in the Stirling Smith. All of the species are represented – barn, tawny, snowy, great horned, great grey, elf, eagle, long – eared, short – eared and little owls – and they come from every part of the globe. The owls have flown in courtesy of the collection of retired university rare books librarian Malcolm Allan of Bridge of Allan, who began to acquire owls at the age of 15 and has never stopped. Decades later, his collection comprises of 4,150 owl themed pieces of all kinds.

The owls have settled mainly in Gallery 1, but can also be seen hiding somewhere in every museum case in the building. Malcolm says "I like sharing my passion for owls, and welcome this public show of a small part of my collection. Young visitors can go around the Smith, following an owl trail".

Visit the Stirling Smith art gallery and museum

Historic Scotland unveils dramatic new interpretation at Doune Castle

The splendour of Doune Castle has been re-imagined following months of consultation with archaeologists and historians. A colourful and dramatic illustration reconstructing life at the Castle is now installed at Doune. Specialists within and outside the agency contributed their expertise to the project, producing a lively resource that brings new insight into life at the Castle.

Interpretation Officer at Historic Scotland, Fiona Fleming explained: "The new panel offers a surprising amount of detail. Artist David Simon has created a stunning illustration showing the Duke of Albany entertaining guests at Doune Castle in February 1407. Albany was the most powerful man in Scotland at the time, and ruled the kingdom on behalf of three successive kings. Doune was the Duke’s power base – a magnificent noble residence, designed to show off his wealth and prestige."

The new interpretation shows a cut-away view of the Castle, with views into the richly-furnished interior of the gatehouse tower, the Great Hall, the Duke’s hall - with an unusual double fireplace reflecting Albany’s importance, upper rooms including an oratory for private prayer, the kitchen, and postern gate.

Fiona said: "Interpretation lies at the heart of Historic Scotland’s mission to present our built heritage effectively and imaginatively to visitors. The stories unique to each site bring these special places to life, and this new panel gives an added dimension to one of the nation’s most important and cherished historic attractions."

Picture yourself at Stirling Castle

Visitors to Stirling Castle will be able to find out what it was like to be a photographer in the Victorian age during a special event this weekend, Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th August 2012. The event takes place from 10:00 am and is included in the castle admission price.

Old photos featuring Stirling Castle will be placed on easels at the spot where the original photo was taken. Visitors will be invited to take their own photos, recreating the scene at the same spot capturing the 21st century image with their choice of cameras, phones or any other handy device. They can then email a maximum of three photos to with a chance to win a copy of a photography book, marking the email, ‘Stirling Castle Photo Event’.

Alex Boyd, the museum’s officer from Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura, will be heading up a group of experts who will demonstrate how much time and effort it would have taken to produce the photographs back in Victorian times. Gillian MacDonald, Executive Manager of Stirling Castle said: "Every day Stirling Castle welcomes visitors who love to photograph a memory of a great day out. This will be a fascinating way for people to see photographs of visitors from days gone by and also to create their own memories. There will be several old photographs of Stirling Castle over the weekend and we would like our visitors to re-create these images with their own family and friends during their visit."

The competition will close at 6:00 pm on Friday 17th of August 2012.


Digging the dirt on Bannockburn in new BBC documentary

One of Scotland’s biggest historical mysteries, the exact site of the Battle of Bannockburn, has two of television’s foremost archaeologists reunited and on the case – Neil Oliver and Dr Tony Pollard, who first came to fame together in Two Men in a Trench. Neil Oliver will present a special two-part BBC Scotland series – alongside Dr Tony Pollard of University of Glasgow - on the archaeology at the Bannockburn site, which will go out in spring 2014 around the time of the 700th anniversary of the battle when the new Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre will launch to the public.

They join Derek Alexander, Head of Archaeological Services at the National Trust for Scotland, and will be filming for the next 18 months, as the archaeology continues, for the series which also include 3D graphics recreating the land at the time, as well as dramatic battle re-enactment footage.

As he joined Tony in the trenches for his first day of filming, Neil Oliver said: "This has to be one of the most potentially exciting archaeological digs in Scotland that there has ever been."

Dr Tony Pollard said: "This is a huge challenge, but we hope to be able to shed new light on the location of the actual battle and indeed provide fresh information about how the action unfolded."

The project sees BBC Scotland working in tandem with the University of Glasgow, The National Trust for Scotland, GUARD Archaeology Ltd, Historic Scotland and Stirling Council. Derek Alexander said: "Just as BBC Scotland today launched the new Bannockburn documentary which will be released in 2014 along with the new Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre, this morning we made our first find at the archaeological site dating back to medieval times - the base of a 13th or 14th century cooking pot."

From the Battle of Bannockburn website.

Stirling Festival of Fudge

A celebration of Fudge-related music, dance, literature and art. Featuring characters and artists currently spearheading the campaign for Fudge recognition, ‘The Festival of Fudge’ has delighted audiences old, young and toothless in Glasgow, Birmingham, Cumnock and Perth. The Festival of Fudge features a troupe of ten interactive performers, five ‘pop-up’ marquees and will be on Port Street, Stirling on 21 July.

The Festival of Fudge runs for two hours straight through, featuring short stage presentations and is brought to you by Mischief La Bas, a performance company that interacts directly with the audience – from Glasgow to Venezuela - usually in public places and more often than not with humour and irreverence..

"This consummate foray into the cleverly ridiculous teased audiences into looking, listening and laughing at what’s basically under their noses, if they take time to engage with it."
Mary Brennan, The Herald

Glasgow Society of Women Artists Exhibition at the Smith

For the next six weeks, the annual summer exhibition of the Glasgow Society of Women Artists is featured at the Stirling Smith. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious societies in Britain, with its origins in the Glasgow Society of Lady Artists, established in 1882.

The exhibition features sculptures, ceramics, textiles, glass and jewellery, as well as the more traditional works in oil, watercolour and acrylics. All of the work is for sale, providing a good opportunity to acquire a very special piece of Scottish art.

Visit the Stirling Smith page on the website to see what's On

Sundays at Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway

Looking for something to do on a Sunday? Look no further than the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway who are putting on special tours of some of the most sought-after areas of their site.

On Sunday 8 July, visitors can find out what is behind the great wooden doors of the Locomotive Running Shed and on the following Sunday join a tour to unlock the secrets of the Signal Box. Rain or shine these tours are sure to open up a new side of the visitor attraction enabling a fascinating insight in to the work of its volunteers.

There is no need to pre-book but numbers are limited. Tickets can be bought at the Booking Office at Bo’ness Station on the day at a cost of £5 per tour which goes towards their preservation work. For more information please visit the visitor attraction’s new website.

Festival of youth theatre at Stirling macrobert

The National Theatre of Scotland are in residence at macrobert this week with Exchange 2012. A week-long festival of youth theatre, where the next generation of theatre-makers from Scotland and across the world present a rich programme of devised pieces, inspired by and created in collaboration with some of today’s most accomplished national and international theatre-makers. Highlights include a special double bill of Gary McNair's brilliant look at the voting system "Count Me In" and a sneak preview of Molly Taylor's "Love Letters To The Public Transport System" before it heads to The Traverse for this year's Edinburgh Fringe.

Tickets for each double bill are just £6 / £4 conc- bargain! Find out more at the what's On at the macrobert section of the website

Visitors to Stirling Castle to see replica of Prince William Honour

Stirling Castle, which was home to the Stewart Kings and Queens, including Mary, Queen of Scots, is offering visitors the opportunity to view a replica of an Order of the Thistle. The replica is on display to visitors to celebrate the installation of Prince William, the Duke of Strathearn, as a Knight of the Order at St. Giles Cathedral on Thursday (5th July).

The Order, the manifestation of which was originally a chain scattered with thistles of gold and worn over a robe, is granted by the Monarch and represents the highest honour in Scotland. The Order is believed to have been introduced in its current form by another Stewart King, James VII of Scotland (II of England).

A costumed performer playing a member of the Royal Court will be available at the castle to explain the history of the Order to visitors. Gillian MacDonald, Executive Manager at Stirling Castle, which is run by Historic Scotland said: "Stirling Castle was home to the Stewart Dynasty of which the Order originates. We felt that it was a fitting venue to showcase a replica of the Order of the Thistle and explain its story to visitors. The Order’s motif has been incorporated into the recent renovation of the palace apartments, the interiors of which have been returned to how they may have looked at the time of a young Mary, Queen of Scots and visitors will be able to find out about life in the Royal Palace at this time."

The Order of the Thistle will be on display within the castle’s palace apartments from tomorrow, Tuesday 3rd July until Thursday, 5th July.

Rediscovering Killearn’s lost landscape

A community archaeological dig has rediscovered the lost Place of Killearn a 17th century laird’s house and designed landscape. The Place of Killearn was built in 1688 and recorded in the 1790s as being surrounded by "numerous plantations, regularly disposed in form of clumps, belts, and wildernesses, beautify and shelter an extensive tract of pleasure ground round the house", and including both ancient oaks and what may be some of Scotland’s earliest larches.

The house was pulled down in the 1820s to build Killearn House and Stirling Council acquired the wooded part of the estate in 1979 from the Gordon Trust. It is now known as Killearn Glen and is now managed by the Council’s Countryside Service and is notable for its nature conservation value: with mature oaks; various broadleaved trees and conifers; mixed shrubs and a spectacular display of bluebells in the spring.

People who visit are often rewarded by sightings of roe deer, voles, woodpeckers, jays and treecreepers, whilst the ground flora provides interest most of the year. All accessible by means of the numerous paths and tracks throughout the woodland. Apparently all that remained of the landscape was a designed waterfall, the Ladies Linn, which had been restored through a collaboration of the Killearn Trust and Stirling Council and is used by local people to cross the burn.

With permission of the landowners, the Gordon Trust and in order to see what if any of the house survived as well as to determine how much was left of the ‘pleasure ground’ a dig was launched by Stirling Council’s Archaeologist, Murray Cook in conjunction with Countryside Ranger Dougie Flynn and Gavin MacGregor of Northlight Heritage. The three-day dig into the landscape was carried out with help of local people, pupils and staff from Killearn Primary School and Stirling Young Archaeology Club. Despite some atrocious rain more than 110 people turned up.

The foundations of the house survive buried under 40 cm of soil and a variety of artefacts associated with the house were recovered, including roof tiles, windows glass, hand made nails, decorated glass and 17th to 19th century pottery. The landscape is full of historic trees, including oaks, hollies, limes and yews. The larches are still there and surprisingly the wood is threaded by an extensive network of what appear to be hollow ways: these could be routes used by people in the 15th to 17th centuries to get through and exploit the wood, something which will be explored further in future work. The whole estate was accessed through a large gateway with monumental columns.

Stirling’s Council’s Archaeologist Murray Cook said: "The whole landscape represents an important rare survival of 17th a century garden and shows how pleasure and business were blended in what was cutting edge design." It is hoped funding can be raised to conduct more research into the landscape and reconstruct the Ladies Linn to its full glory.

More community events are planned for the rest of the year so if you’re interested in joining-up or finding out more about Stirling’s amazing past please email Stirling’s Council’s Archaeologist Murray Cook

From the Stirling Council website.

Daddy Longs Legs at the Macrobert

Kinetic theatre presents their latest harrowing and thought provoking performance "Daddy Longs Legs" at MacRobert Theatre on 1st and 2nd August at 7.30pm.

Kinetic theatre is based in Buckhaven, Fife and has a long history of producing innovative, edgy and raw pieces of theatre. Anne-Marie Martin, Chief Executive of Kinetic Theatre is from Stirling and wanted to showcase the performance in her home town: "The people of Stirlingshire know good theatre and I want to show them what we are doing in Fife – I want to showcase our three young actresses who do more than hold their own."

Kim Hardie, Sam Hardie and Rachael Keiller have grown up with Kinetic Theatre for the past 11 years, and play the main roles in this performance. So much is their success to date, the three girls have been accepted to Birmingham and Edinburgh to study for degrees in Applied Theatre and Acting & Performance later this year.

Claire Bloomfield, Artistic Director adds: "We are so proud of the work by Sam, Kim and Rachael – it is not easy to cope with such harrowing subject matter in a play like this at any age. This performance and our work to date with the girls demonstrate the importance of community theatre in developing opportunities for our young people." Daddy Longs Legs follows on from the successes of the critically acclaimed Play Stop Rewind and Red, which was collaboration with Mfest at MacRobert. Kinetic Theatre has a long running relationship with MacRobert Theatre and is delighted to be performing there to celebrate the end of a season and to wish the girls well on the next step in their careers.

Tickets for the performance can be purchased directly from MacRobert Theatre. Tickets are priced at £6/£4. Find out more at the what's On at the macrobert section of the website


Mini-Mahler at the Tolbooth

This Saturday, 30th June at 8pm, Auricle spends its fifth birthday performing its acclaimed Mini-Mahler concert in Stirling at the Tolbooth.

Soprano Alexa Mason (ENO) joins just fifteen Auricle players under conductor Chris Swaffer to perform Mahler's Songs of a Travelling Wayfarer and Fourth Symphony (with live surtitles) and Debussy's tranquil masterpiece "Prélude à L'après midi d'un faune". These three exquisite reductions form part of Auricle's ongoing Mini-Mahler series, in which they are performing all of the available Mahler arrangements made for Schoenberg's Private Music Society in early 1920's Vienna as well as newly created versions.

This June marks five years since Auricle burst into musical life in the UK - events planned for the rest of the year include a major new commission from Composer-in-Residence Steve Forman, new film score reconstuction in collaboration with CMM Architects and more

"revelatory...gorgeous...compelling...characterful...ravishing..." The Herald (Mini-Mahler)

Tickets: £14 / £12 available from the Tolbooth, Jail Wynd, Stirling,FK8 1DE on 01786 27 4000

Find out more about What's On at the Tolbooth.

Family Funday at the Macrobert

Sunday 1st July from 11.00am will see macrobert host an olympic-sized funday for the whole family. The first public performance of our own production, Mikey and Addie, a Victory Dance as you enter macrobert, an outdoor adventure with Happy Birthday Grandpa Tree where hoepfully you wont need your welly boots and we will be screening the recent blockbuster The Pirates In An Adventure With Scientists and Top Cat in our cinema.. Sure to be an exciting, adventurous and creative day, so make sure you join us!

Mikey and Addie is a highly visual piece of storytelling aimed at children from the age of nine. It asks how do you work out who you are when everything around you is changing? Mikey and Addie is commissioned by the London 2012 Festival and supported through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund. Tickets for Mikey and Addie are selling fast so, booking now is highly advised.

Find out more at the what's On at the macrobert section of the website

Big Noise - The Big Concert

On midsummer night Gustavo Dudamel and The Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela will perform a spectacular outdoor concert in the heart of Raploch, Stirling.The Big Concert features a full performance by The Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra with a special guest appearance by Big Noise. The outdoor performance marks the opening of the London 2012 Festival and is a unique celebration of social hope and artistic beauty. It is set to be one of the most thrilling concert experiences of the year and has been named one of "10 events you must not miss," by The Daily Telegraph.

A spectacular outdoor concert venue and stage will be created, accommodating hundreds of musicians and thousands of spectators. Set against the backdrop of Stirling Castle, the site has sweeping views of the Ochil Hills and Wallace Monument. Laid out for mostly informal picnic attendance, the concert will be family-friendly with tickets offered at exceptional value-for-money prices.

Thursday 21st June 2012
Gates open at 6:30pm
Show starts at 7:45pm. (3 hours duration)
Old School Field (Raploch)

From the Stirling Council website.

The Scribblers Picnic on Sunday 17 June

The Weather is looking good for tomorrow with a Wee bit of rain in the morning then dry for the afternoon with a wee possibility of a shower early on – high of 15 degrees – get the sun cream out.

The Scribbler’s Picnic has invited the Eilidh Brown Memorial Fund to be part of the charity festival at Stirling Rugby Club on Sunday June 17 which has led to the creation of Eilidh’s Scribbler’s Tea Party at the event – with proceeds from the area going to the Eilidh Brown Memorial Fund. The vintage-styled area will include busking, cocktails served in teapots, cupcakes and kids crafts.

The Scribbler’s Picnic is a family fun day to raise funds for five charities. There will be entertainment across eight stages including a new Covers Band’s Stage with the Underground Jam lined up to play. There will also be a Baby Disco hosted by neo-natal charity So Precious from 12noon to 3pm inside the main club house. On the day there will also be a range of charity stalls and children’s shows, face painting, bouncy castle. Food stalls will include Loch Fyne Oyster stall and a BBQ.

The event starts at 12noon in the grounds of Stirling Rugby Club. Online early bird discounted tickets cost £8 adults/£4 under 16s and under 5s free at if purchased before May 31. Following this a small number of tickets will be made available at Roadshow Music, The Craigs, Stirling and then tickets on the gate will cost £10 adults / £5 under 16s and under 5s free.

All proceeds from the event go to five charities – Children’s Hospice Association, Maggie’s Centres, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Macmillan Cancer Support and Strathcarron Hospice.

Forth Valley Open Studios 2012

Forth Valley Open Studios Image

Artists across Central Scotland open their doors 9-17 June

Forth Valley Open Studios was first launched in the summer of 2010 and is an annual nine day event which takes place in Forth Valley, Central Scotland. During the event local artists, galleries and art organisations open their doors to invite the general public to view their art works.

Take time out and visit some of the 100 artists, designers and craft workers taking part in the Forth Valley Open Studios from 9-17 June. This event, now in its third year, is a well-established cultural feature in the central belt of Scotland with an increasing number of people arranging their holidays around these dates.

You will see artists at work and have the chance to buy quality artwork direct from the studio or workshop. Studios come in all shapes, and sizes ranging from a spare room in the house to sheds in the garden, and for the lucky few a purpose built one. Locations vary too from farms and remote cottages to urban environments. In fact there is something for all tastes with work varying in price from £2 for craftwork to £2000 for paintings.

You can download the event brochure from:


Save 25% on tickets to Capercaillie

This is your chance to see one of Scotland's best bands live on stage at Stirling's Albert Halls and SAVE 25% at the same time. Tickets are priced from £17.50 but can claim your 25% OFF on the phone or online.

Universally recognised as one of the finest Gaelic singers today, Karen Matheson's exquisite voice has been at the centre of Capercaillie's music, whether breathing new life into 400 year old Gaelic songs or bringing her luscious vocals to the band’s contemporary compositions.

Credited with being the major force in bringing Celtic music to the world stage, Capercaillie's unique fusion of Gaelic culture and contemporary sound has always stretched boundaries in their quest to keep the music evolving. And the band bring an astonishing musical dexterity with the various fiddle, whistle, flute and pipes who have performed with them over the years, led by the accordion and keyboards of band founder Donald Shaw.

"Nobody does it better" Q Magazine

Capercaillie at the Albert Halls, Stirling on Sunday 3rd June at 7.30pm.

PHONE: call 01786 27 4000 (option 1 / option 3) or 01786 473 544 and quote ALBERT when making your booking.

25% will be deducted from the total sales price when you purchase 2 or more tickets, this offer cannot be used retrospectively.

Step back in time at Stirling Castle to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Stirling Castle will be stepping back in time to the Royal Court of the sixteenth century to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Over the weekend of Saturday 2nd June and Sunday 3rd June, the castle will be hosting a spectacular celebration of royalty in days gone by. The castle, which has been party to a number of royal celebrations over the years including the coronations of King James V and his daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, is gearing up for a weekend to remember with a host of activities for all the family.

Visitors can experience the Royal Court to see how such occasions were celebrated hundreds of years ago in Renaissance times. There will be a host of entertaining activities from sword fighting, to royal etiquette, to the fashions of the time. This will include the King wearing what is reported to be the first ever recorded display of tartan whilst the Queen and her ladies-in-waiting will discuss life at masques and balls. There will also be an opportunity for visitors to dress up in the costumes of the period.

The celebrations are designed to cover a whole host of different aspects of life in the royal court, from the orders of the chivalry to feasting, with the table set with dishes on display that would have been eaten at a coronation.

Gillian MacDonald, Executive Manager of Stirling Castle said: "We are delighted to be celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with special events and presentations for all the family to enjoy. Stirling Castle has many royal links and has been witness to a number of coronations. Mary, Queen of Scots, was crowned here in the Chapel Royal on 9th September 1543 when she was a baby and the crown had to be held above her head, whilst James VI was rushed to the castle for safety after his coronation at the nearby Church of the Holy Rude-Hastily for fear of a counter attack. Visitors will be able to find out more about these links through special tours running over the weekend as well as experiencing life first hand in the royal court through a series of interactive workshops."

The event is included in the admission price for Stirling Castle. Find out more about Stirling Castle in the Stirling sightseeing guide.

Drawing Daggers

Drawing Daggers Image

Drawing Daggers, a solo exhibition from the Stirling based artist, Rue Five, opens in Glasgow this weekend. A site-specific installation, the show will include a series of drawings, paintings, photographs, sculpture, video and sound work.

Currently a member of Scottish arts collective Team Recoat, his work explores themes including alternate pasts and futures and frequently incorporates archaic imagery, styles, or techniques to evoke uncertainty, mystery, inexpressible fears, and unsatisfied longing. His work is beautiful and well crafted.

Rue Five uses foraged materials, from slates from his grandmother’s cottage, a childhood retreat, to antique paper and pencils hoarded by his deceased grandfather, re-valuing and validating these forgotten, often lost items, creating intimate pieces with connections to his personal history.

The exhibition includes a series of weapons, some adorned, some made by others, and a few built by him. His intrigue lies in their necessity, he encourages us to imagine a culture or time when they were made; was it now, are they ancient relics or is he suggesting we may need these for the future he imagines and wants for us?

Drawing Daggers Runs from Saturday 12th May till 3rd June at Recoat Gallery, 323 North Woodside Road, Glasgow, G20 6ND. Telephone 0141 341 00 69.

Michael Clark Company at the macrobert

Michael Clark Company Image

Michael Clark Company’s critically acclaimed production come, been and gone is made primarily to the music of David Bowie. It also embraces the work of key collaborators Lou Reed and Brian Eno, and touches on some of his influences including The Velvet Underground and Kraftwerk. "Rock is my rock. It has been vital to me at a personal level; it has shaped me as an individual as well as an artist," Michael Clark.

"…an outrageously gorgeous piece of modern dance."
The Observer

"…beautifully and inspiringly danced… unmissable."
The Daily Telegraph

Michael Clark chose to become a choreographer believing that actions speak louder than words. He creates work which combines his classical integrity with a more complex, contemporary sensibility, embracing virtue and vice, abandon and control, grace and embarrassment. He is renowned for his legendary collaborations with bands, fashion designers and visual artists including Wire, BodyMap, Leigh Bowery, Trojan and Sarah Lucas.

Come, Been and Gone is at the macrobert on Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 May.

Start: 7.30pm

Price: Tickets friends £17.50 / full £22.50 / concession £20.50

The Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway

bo'ness and kinneil railway near stirling

Now open for the season. Home to the Scottish Railway Preservation Society. This hidden gem, only 20 miles drive from Stirling, is located in the historic town of Bo’ness. Friendly staff will welcome you aboard one of the heritage steam or diesel-hauled trains and wish you a pleasant journey.

Based at Bo’ness and open 7 days a week from April to October, the Museum of Scottish Railways has been extended in 2012 with the addition of a 16,000 sq. ft. train shed to house the last remaining "Glasgow Blue Train", a recently restored Class 126 Diesel Multiple Unit and several other heritage items of rolling stock.

In the main exhibition hall, operate a railway signal and points, climb aboard heritage locomotives and learn about the making, operating and using of Scottish Railways through the ages. Take time to sort some letters in the Post Office Sorting Van and view the classic video "Night Mail".

The museum has the largest collection of railway locomotives, carriages, wagons, equipment and artefacts outside the National Railway Museum in York.

Find out more

A great line up at Stirling Tolbooth this week

On Thursday 17 May, double Ivor Novello Award-winning lyricist and enigma Chris Difford has brought us characters and sketches from every day life, turning the mundane into the beautiful, the urbane into the exquisite, for over 30 years. With his partner, collaborator, friend and Squeeze co-founder Glenn Tilbrook, Chris has written some of the most enduring and best-loved songs of our time. Up The Junction, Cool For Cats and Labelled With Love, to name but a few.

For 2012, Chris is "aided and abetted" by comedian Norman Lovett for an evening of music and humour. With Norman providing laughs in his own inimitable style, Chris tells the story of his musical life - covering everything from the 50p advert in a newsagent window that was the start of Squeeze, through to playing Madison Square Garden and beyond. Get ready for a night of tall tales, big laughs and great songs.

Chris Difford It's All About Me
Thu 17 May, 8pm

On Sunday 20 May, a Scottish Exclusive for Minnesota's Davina and The Vagabonds. Imagine a meld of Bessie Smith, Etta James, Alberta Adams and Amy Winehouse and you come close to understanding what Minnesota blues woman Davina Sowers is all about.

Accompanying herself on piano, Davina's sound is firmly based in New Orleans, incorporating blues, swing, jazz, RandB, soul and gospel, while in the upright bass, trombone, trumpet and drums of The Vagabonds, she has a band with the talent and attitude to reflect her fiesty style.

"Davina is a real talent who deserves greater exposure...highly recommend this band...10 out of 10" Blues In Britain

Davina and The Vagabonds
Sun 20 May, 8pm

Find out more about What's On at the Tolbooth.

Le Havre at the macRobert film theatre this week

Don't Miss Aki Kaurismaki's latest film and Cannes festival favourite Le Havre at the macRobert film theatre on Tuesday and Thursday this week. The deadpan Finnish film-maker behind I Hired A Contract Killer, The Match Factory Girl, Leningrad Cowboys Go America and The Man Without a Past returns with the film of the year.

In this warmhearted portrait of the French harbor city that gives the film its name, fate throws young African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (Andre Wilms), a well-spoken bohemian who works as a shoeshiner. With innate optimism and the unwavering support of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville and Marcel Carne, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight.

dir. Aki Kaurismaki / France/Finland 2011 / Color / 93 min / in French with English subtitles

Tue 8 May 7.30pm
Thu 10 May 7.30pm

Visit What's On at the macRobert for further details

Two leading Stirling charities join forces

TWO leading Stirling charities The Scribbler’s Picnic and the Eilidh Brown Memorial Fund have joined forces to promote two music highlights which will be a must for music-lovers in June.

The Scribbler’s Picnic has invited the Eilidh Brown Memorial Fund to be part of the charity festival at Stirling Rugby Club on Sunday June 17 which has led to the creation of Eilidh’s Scribbler’s Tea Party at the event – with proceeds from the area going to the Eilidh Brown Memorial Fund. The vintage-styled area will include busking, cocktails served in teapots, cupcakes and kids crafts.

Preceding the Scribbler’s Picnic music festival on Sunday June 17 will be the ‘For the Love of Eilidh’ concert held at the Macrobert on Friday 15.

The Scribbler’s Picnic is a family fun day to raise funds for five charities. There will be entertainment across eight stages including a new Covers Band’s Stage with the Underground Jam and Gallus Cooper lined up to play. There will also be a Baby Disco hosted by neo-natal charity So Precious from 12noon to 3pm inside the main club house. On the day there will also be a range of charity stalls and children’s shows, face painting, bouncy castle. Food stalls will include Loch Fyne Oyster stall and a BBQ.

The event starts at 12noon in the grounds of Stirling Rugby Club. Online early bird discounted tickets cost £8 adults/£4 under 16s and under 5s free at if purchased before May 31. Following this a small number of tickets will be made available at Roadshow Music, The Craigs, Stirling and then tickets on the gate will cost £10 adults / £5 under 16s and under 5s free.

All proceeds from the event go to five charities – Children’s Hospice Association, Maggie’s Centres, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Macmillan Cancer Support and Strathcarron Hospice.

Visit the what's On Around Stirling section for further details

Handling the Past

On Saturday 19th May, the Smith museum is holding a family fun day where members of the public will be allowed to hold four of the most iconic items from the collections.

These are:
The World’s Oldest Football
A Samurai Sword from the 14th century
The key to the town which was presented to Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745
Pre Columbian Chimu Culture pot from Peru from about 1000ad. The leaflet and images attached to this document.

There is a minimal fee for the handling sessions.

In addition there will be Free face painting on a Samurai and Dr Who theme and Two Daleks will be present to do crowd control. Raymond McFadyen (Dr Who expert ) will be providing information on how to build your own Dalek. There will also be a Samurai / Japanese event where you can learn about the Samurai and have objects you own identified by experts.

Starts at 1pm with a lecture on "How to be a Samurai." Handling sessions from 2- 5.30pm.


Scottish referendum campaigns captured in archive exhibition

The excitement of the campaign for a Scottish Parliament in the second half of the twentieth century is captured in a new exhibition opening at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum on Friday 27 April. Democracy for Scotland: The Referendum Experience contains an interesting collection of pieces from the collections of the Scottish Political Archive (SPA), based at the University of Stirling. The exhibition chronicles the history behind the two devolution referendums of 1979 and 1997 and explores the nature of the Yes and No campaigns for both referendums, looking at their results and the re-establishment of a Scottish Parliament.

Democracy for Scotland features referendum campaign materials including leaflets, pamphlets, posters and badges deriving from all the major political parties and umbrella groups. It also offers visitors the opportunity to hear the voices of politicians and campaigners discussing their experiences of the referendums of ’79 and ‘97, the intervening period and the establishment of a Scottish Parliament.

Stirling campaigners interviewed as part of the project include Provost Fergus Wood, Stirling Councillor Jim Thomson and former First Minister Jack McConnell. Falkirk campaigners interviewed as part of the project include SNP Councillor David Alexander, MP Michael Connarty and former MSP Dennis Canavan.

The SPA is dedicated to collecting oral and other materials relating to the political history of Scotland in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. SPA Director Peter Lynch said: "This exhibition which explores the nature of the 1979 and 1997 devolution referendums could not be timelier. The issues raised at the two previous referendum campaigns have enormous contemporary significance for the proposed referendum in 2014."

The exhibition, which will be opened by East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani on Friday 27 April, will be on display at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum until 10 June 2012. In conjunction with the exhibition the SPA is hosting a series of lectures at the Smith throughout May 2012. Speakers include former MP/ MSP Dennis Canavan, former Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion and author James Robertson. For further details please visit

Visit the Stirling Smith page on the website to see what's On

Afternoon Twee vintage fair

The well established vintage fair Afternoon Twee is coming to Stirling University Atrium Tuesday April 09th. Featuring ladies and gents vintage clothing, accessories, jewellery, arts and crafts and all manner of hidden gems. Doors open at 10am. Free entry for all

European Art Exhibition at the Stirling Smith

The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum has recently opened its European Art Exhibition, showcasing fine pieces of European art from various different nations. The exhibition opened on 21st March and will run until 30th June and displays examples of some of the best works in the Smith collection. And for the first time, the Smith collections can now be viewed online on the Public Catalogue Foundation website. This move online means that more people than ever before will be able to enjoy the gems of the Stirling Smith, anywhere in the world.

The European Art Exhibition displays many artists - from the seascapes of Maris to the intricate detail of individuals in paintings by Swertz and Philip, there is plenty to feast your eyes on.

The centrepiece of the event is the massive "Les Moulieres a Villerville" (The Mussell Beds of Villerville) by Maurice Poirson. Poirson was a genre and watercolour painter born in Paris on 1 August 1846. He became a pupil at the age of 23 of Alexandre Cabanel in 1869, the Head of the Ecole des Beaux Arts and promoter of the Academic style of painting - grand in manner and formal in composition. Most of his work seems to have been inspired by a fairly specific area along the Normandy coast - Trouville, Villerville, Le Havre and Dieppe.

Also, incredibly vivid paintings by Edward Pritchett showing various aspects of Venice are on display. Pritchett was a nineteenth-century English painter and man of mystery. Nothing is known of Pritchett's life; he has appropriately been described as "elusive." Pritchett’s paintings found great favour with the collectors of this genre so much so that he accumulated sufficient wealth to enable him to set up his own art school.

Colin O'Brien, Chair of the Stirling Smith comments, "The paintings on display are absolutely fantastic, and the more you get to know about the artists and their inspirations, the more appreciation you garner for the works of art on display. The exhibition shows pieces from The Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain and the UK, all covering different genres, so there will be something for all tastes. With the creation of new gallery space, our ambition is to be able to display treasures like these all the time, creating an invaluable space for locals and tourists alike to come and appreciate the fine art that the Stirling Smith has in abundance"

The Stirling Smith is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30am - 5pm and Sunday 2pm - 5pm. Admission is free.

From the Stirling Council website


Briarlands Farm Re-opens for 2012

Briarlands Farm is now open for the year with fun and activities for everyone, including Animal paddocks, all weather Go Kart tracks, Fabulous Funyard, Cable Ride and Strawberry Farm. Everything you need for a great day out.

The all new purpose built Farmer's Den includes a large comfortable tearoom designed especially with families in mind. Fabulous food made with locally sourced produce and delicious homebaking is a speciality. there is an area to keep the children entertained whatever the weather and a shop with a wide range of gifts suitable for all the family.

There is a new, enclosed Tot’s trike track where Under 5’s can practice their steering and balance skills in coupé cars and push along vehicles, new Play barn Animal viewing, sand and ball pit (all undercover, so wee ones can enjoy some fresh air and play whatever the weather).

Find out all about Briarlands in the Days Out guide.

Electric Kisses, Bleeding Hearts

Local artist June Carey will be exhibiting a new body of work at the Glasgow Print Studio. The work deals with an on-going subject of Carey's - love and its many forms.Driven by a passion for drawing and mark making, Carey creates her work using pencil, pastel, brush or an etching tool. Discovering etching brought about a turning-point in her work and career. The process of etching set Carey's imagination free and allows her subconscious mind to dictate the marks she makes.

Widely travelled, Carey is greatly influenced by the many diverse cultures that she has encountered, these experiences not only feeding her imagination but becoming vital to the development of her work.

Part of Glasgow Print Studio's 40th anniversary celebrations, the exhibition runs: 6th April - 29th April 2012 in the ground floor gallery.

Have a Magical Easter Weekend at Stirling Castle

Enjoy a magical day out at Stirling Castle over the Easter weekend with fantastic entertainment on offer for all the family on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th April 2012 from 12:00 to 4:00pm. World class magicians will surprise and amaze you with enchanting illusions, quick-fire comedy and close-up magic. Meet a thousand year old wizard, watch spectacular jugglers and jovial jesters.

Stirling Castle is also celebrating Mr Punch’s birthday – he is 350 years old this year and is coming to the Enchanted Castle in his own inimitable style; not forgetting Judy, the Crocodile, the Sausages, the Policeman, the Doctor, Joey The Clown, Jack Ketch, The Ghost and The Devil. Gillian MacDonald, Executive Manager of Stirling Castle said: "This is going to be a magical weekend for all the family. Come along and find out all about James IV’s personal alchemist, John Damian, who foolishly tried to fly from the castle walls, marvel at the amazing magicians and enjoy the Punch and Judy puppet show." These activities are included in the admission price: Adult £13.00, Concession £10.00, Child £6.50.

Experience Stirling Castle without the crowds by coming to our Castle Magic evening on Saturday 7th April. An exclusive evening of magic and wit runs from 8:00pm – 10:30 pm (doors open 7.30pm). Be entertained by an exciting display of sophisticated magic tricks, dark stories from the castle’s dramatic history and quick fire humour aimed at an adult audience. A bar is available.

Limited places, don’t miss out, book online at Age restrictions apply, tickets available for adults and children 12 and above.

Adult £15:00, Concession £10.00, Historic Scotland member £10.00

Stirling Castle Turns off lights

Stirling Castle is joining thousands of landmarks across the globe including the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower and the Forth Bridge this weekend to help raise awareness of the issue of climate change. The castle is taking part in Earth Hour –a World Wildlife Fund initiative which invites individuals, businesses and organisations to show their support for people and nature around the world affected by climate change by switching off their lights for an hour.

On Saturday, 31st March, the castle will be turning off its floodlights for an hour between 8.30pm and 9.30pm as part of the world wide event. Launched in 2007 in Australia, the initiative has grown to be a global phenomenon with hundreds of millions of people around the world participating. In 2011, more than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide took part.

The site is one of a number of Historic Scotland attractions across Scotland to take part in WWF’s Earth Hour. Other participating sites include Edinburgh Castle, Urquhart Castle and Linlithgow Palace.

Susan Loch, Head of Visitor Operations for Historic Scotland said:
"Historic Scotland is committed to looking at ways to reduce our carbon emissions and we will shortly be launching our Carbon Action Plan. We are proud to support Earth Hour through switching off the lights at our properties on Saturday 31st March and being part of this global statement on climate change."

Putting a Little Spring in Your Step

Let the Tolbooth put a little spring in your step with four fantastic performances this Spring. March ends with an afternoon of classical music, courtesy of the Strivelyn Quartet, followed by an upbeat evening of traditional Scottish music from the Rua Macmillan Trio.

April kick-starts with a visit from Country/Soul singer Rachel Lyn Harrington, who comes to Stirling all the way from Seattle and finally, closer to home, Peter Longworth comes to the Tolbooth to showcase his outstanding compositions.

The Strivelyn Quartet return, offering an exciting fusion of Mozart’s enigmatic "Dissonance". A lovely afternoon’s classical music recital with tea and homemade cake all for only £8! Traditional musician Rua Macmillan comes to the Tolbooth with his trio for a night of high-energy and captivating music, combining fiddle, guitar and bodhran. Seattle based country soul sensation, Rachel Lyn Harrington, arrives with her all girl band The Knock Outs, comprising bass, drums, fiddle and guitar. "Songs that conjure the ghosts of old America." MOJO

Peter Longworth and The Astrid Quartet, a string quartet of Scotland’s finest players, perform everything from Tango to jazz piano music, to music inspired by Martin Scorsese’s films and much more.

Find out more about What's On at the Tolbooth.

Casablanca at the Macrobert

"I bet they're asleep in New York; I bet they're asleep all over America."

Seventy years old and getting better and better as time goes by, Hollywood's finest second world war drama returns to the Macrobert. Night club owner Rick Blane’s life is turned upside down when an old flame and her husband arrive in Casablanca and he is forced to choose between his love for her and helping her husband escape and continue his fight against the Nazis.

Tue 27 Mar 7.30pm
Wed 28 Mar 2.00pm
Thu 29 Mar 7.30pm

See Whats On at Stirling Macrobert

Briarlands Farm Now Open All Year Round

Briarlands Farm are pleased to announce that they will be open all year round. Special activities and crafts will run all year round starting with the treasure hunt during Easter weekend. Outdoor activities include jumping pillows, go karts, tyre maze, mini diggers, pick your own fruit and animal paddocks.

Briarlands offer a fantastic venue to host a birthday party and can also be animal themed.

At Briarlands you can now enjoy the fabulous new family friendly tearoom, serving delicious hot and cold food using local suppliers and home baking. There is also a little tikes frame and activity area to keep children active whatever the weather.

Open from Friday 30th March 10am - 5.30pm.

Visit Briarlands page on the Days Out Around Stirling Guide.

An evening of Schumann’s Music and poetry at Stirling Castle

Music and poetry lovers will be pleased to hear that Stirling Castle is hosting an evening of music and poetry with local soprano Elizabeth McCormack accompanied by pianist Julia Lynch, with performances by the Beaconhurst Choir and pupils in a range of languages.

The event will take place on Sunday 1st April at 7:30 pm in the historic surroundings of the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle. The music will include Robert Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben and will also feature the Premiere of Tom Wilson’s Blutenblatter. In addition there will be text by local playwright Clive Wright.

Tickets cost £15.00 for adults and £13.00 for concessions and Historic Scotland members. They are available from the Albert Halls on 01786 473544

An evening of Schumann’s Music and poetry at Stirling Castle

Music and poetry lovers will be pleased to hear that Stirling Castle is hosting an evening of music and poetry with local soprano Elizabeth McCormack accompanied by pianist Julia Lynch, with performances by the Beaconhurst Choir and pupils in a range of languages.

The event will take place on Sunday 1st April at 7:30 pm in the historic surroundings of the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle. The music will include Robert Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben and will also feature the Premiere of Tom Wilson’s Blutenblatter. In addition there will be text by local playwright Clive Wright.

Tickets cost £15.00 for adults and £13.00 for concessions and Historic Scotland members. They are available from the Albert Halls on 01786 473544

Make your Mother’s Day at Stirling Castle

Come to Stirling Castle on Mothering Sunday, 18th March, when Mary of Guise, mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, will be in residence with her ladies of the court. Find out what life would have been like in the Royal Palace at that time for mothers and daughters. Young courtiers will have the opportunity to make lavender bags for their mothers, just as children of the palace did at that time. They will also have the chance to try on some renaissance outfits from the 1540’s.

Iona Leishman, Stirling Castle’s artist-in-residence, will be available in her artist’s studio from 10:00 to 4:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday for drop-in Mother’s Day card making sessions to help children make their mother a special and unique card.

Gillian MacDonald, Executive Manager of Stirling Castle said: "Stirling Castle is the perfect venue for Mothering Sunday, especially as this is where Mary of Guise, one of the most famous mothers in Scottish history looked after her infant daughter, Mary Queen of Scots."

Don’t worry if you have left it to the last minute to buy a gift for Mother’s Day, as there is a range of quality palace inspired gifts in the palace gift shop from contemporary Scottish designers Gillian Kyle, Sheila Fleet, Harris Tweed and Scott Innes including jewellery, luxury soaps, retro style aprons and designer bags.

Bruce Statue to be returned to original glory

The familiar sight of the green Robert the Bruce statue at Bannockburn will be restored to its original bronze finish as the battlefield’s historic monuments are repaired. The 1960’s statue by Pilkington Jackson, the rotunda and flagpole will be restored as part of the £9.1m project to provide a new visitor centre to mark the Battle of Bannockburn.

National Trust for Scotland Bannockburn project director David McAllister said, "From the start of this project it has been crucial for us to balance the commemoration of the site alongside the telling of the story of the battle. This site has attracted memorials and tributes for centuries. Our plans will use three dimensional technology to create an unrivalled experience, but the essence of what we are doing is part of a well established tradition. Now that we have confirmation of £4.1m funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £5m from the Scottish Government we can finalise our plans for the repairs to the monuments."

Residents of Bannockburn will be given a preview of the work to come at a community event held at the current visitor centre on Tuesday March 13 at 4.30pm. The project team will be able to show artists impressions of the new visitor centre and landscaping work.

Chris McGregor, Historic Scotland Head of Major Projects added, "The current centre sits directly in the line of sight between the entrance to the centre and the monument so we have deliberately planned the new building to sit off to the side to open up the view to the monument from the road and focus the visitors attention as it was intended to do. Work will start on the rotunda, flagpole and the Bruce statue as part of the main building contract. Due to corrosion over the decades most people immediately assume that the statue was always intended to be green but the specialist conservators will return this beautiful sculpture to its original bronze finish."

This month the Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre opened for the final visitor season using the current building. The new centre will open in time for the 700th anniversary of the battle in 2014, the second Year of Homecoming and the year that Scotland will host the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games.

Celebrating Ten Years of the Tolbooth

This year the Tolbooth celebrates it's tenth anniversary and with it a decade of diverse, exciting and often groundbreaking music and arts events in Stirling. The Tolbooth re-opened as a music-focussed arts venue in March 2002 after an award-winning refurbishment by architect, Richard Murphy.

Dating back to the 17th century, the Tolbooth has been a key building in Stirling's history, as a town hall, a courthouse and a jail and now as a arts venue. Over the last decade the Tolbooth has acted as the catalyst for new work and collaboration, nurturing local talent and providing opportunities as well as hosting national and international artists. Artists as diverse as: Thurston Moore, Julian Lloyd Webber, Big Country, Eddi Reader, Mogwai, Rachel Unthank, Judy Collins and Frightened Rabbit.

To kick off the celebrations there are four special performances from Thursday 15th March to Sunday 18th March that gives a taste of the Tolbooth’s varied programme.

Scotland’s comic prodigy Daniel Sloss kicks things off on Thu 15 March. Aged just 21 years old, Daniel is already well known on the stand-up circuit, having sold out three Fringe sessions in a row and picked up the 2011 Scottish Variety Award for Best New Comedian.

Legendary alternative rock duo The Vaselines make a rare live appearance on Friday 16th March. Backed by a band that includes Belle and Sebastian members Stevie Jackson and Bobby Kildea, they prove they are just as relevant to pop music now as they were prior to their split in the 1980s, when Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain was hailing them as his "most favourite songwriters in the whole world".

On Saturday 17th March, alt-country wizards The Coal Porters whip up a feel-good storm with their impressive brand of break-neck bluegrass. Originally formed in Los Angeles and now residing in London, the five-piece bring their banjos, mandolins, fiddles and doghouse bass north for an unforgettable show.

On Sunday 18th March The Golden Steps is a one-off performance involving many of the young people and tutors from the Tolbooth’s wide-ranging music workshops. The evening will end with a newly commissioned piece by recently crowned Composer of the Year and former Tolbooth Musician in Residence, Aidan O’Rourke. The title ‘The Golden Steps’ comes from the name given to the original entrance to the Tolbooth, where money was handed out to the people of Stirling.

"Ten years on, we are delighted to have played host to such a huge array of artists and audience members. Here’s to another decade of music, art, having fun and joining in" Carolyn Paterson, Senior Arts Development Officer

Visit the Tolbooth page on the website to see what's On over the next few months.

Stirling Castle visitor Figures Up

Stirling Castle has experienced a 15% increase in visitor numbers compared to the previous 12 months. Stirling Castle, which is run by Historic Scotland saw 433,394 visitors go through its doors in 2011, a 15% increase on the previous year. The castle’s renaissance palace re-opened to the public in June after a three year £12 million restoration of its royal apartments to return them to how they may have looked at the time of a young Mary, Queen of Scots.

The upturn in visitor numbers was also reflected at Historic Scotland’s other submitted properties, Edinburgh Castle and Urquhart Castle. Edinburgh Castle retained its position as Scotland’s number one paid for visitor attraction with 1,302,826 visitors, an increase of 8%, whilst Urquhart Castle saw a rise of 10% to 315,911 visitors.

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism for Historic Scotland said
"The Stirling Palace experience is unlike anything currently available in the Scottish market and is really appealing to visitors’ imaginations. We are also continuing to invest in the wider visitor experience at Stirling and will be kicking off our events programme at the castle this year with a fun filled Easter extravaganza for all the family as part of our programme of costumed performances which run at key times throughout the year."

Neish Pewter Gallery re-opens for the season

On Saturday 3rd March, the Neish Pewter Gallery will re-open to the public for the 2012 Spring/Summer season.

The gallery holds one of the largest Pewter collections in the UK and displays different pieces of pewter on rotation, so various different pieces are displayed at different times. The Gallery is in the Old Court (often referred to as the “old district court’ building), Spittal Street, right next door to Allan's Primary School and showcases a selection of pewter from various sources, notably from Alex Neish who built up his collection at long range, before retiring to Barcelona. Alex had always wanted the collection to return to Scotland where it began 50 years ago. He viewed Stirling’s Smith Art Gallery and Museum as an ideal home because of its own outstanding collection of Scottish pewter "which was on display and not stored away in packing cases." He gifted the collection to the people of Stirling and the Art gallery in 2011.

Chairman of the Stirling Smith Trustees, Councillor Colin O'Brien, comments; "The Smith Pewter collection is an outstanding resource for the area. It is steeped in history and every piece tells a different story of the past. The gallery is free admission and I would encourage anybody to go along and see the vast collection for yourself. I am sure there will be plenty to capture the imagination."

Opening Hours for the collection: Saturdays 1-4, Sundays 2-4.30

Stirling Smith Pewter Gallery, 23 Spittal Street, Stirling FK8 1DU

From the Stirling Council website

Stirling Gardens Open

Beautiful gardens throughout Stirling and the surrounding area will be open to the public this year. Scotland’s Gardens is a registered charity established in 1931, raising funds for worthy charities by facilitating the opening of large and small gardens of horticultural interest throughout Scotland to the public.

Find a full list of Stirling Gardens Open in the What's On Around Stirling Guide

The gardens that open for them are considered amongst Scotland’s finest. Most of them are privately owned and are normally inaccessible to the public at other times. 40% of funds raised at the garden openings goes to charities of the garden owners’ choice whilst 60% net is shared between: Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres, The Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, The Gardens Fund of the National Trust for Scotland and Perennial,

The Scotland’s Gardens Guide Book containing full details of all the gardens opening during the year is available in leading bookshops and other appropriate retail and tourist outlets from early December. It can also be purchased online at

Visit or email for more information, news and updates.

Afternoon Twee Vintage Fair at Stirling University

The well established vintage fair Afternoon Twee is coming to Stirling University Atrium Tuesday March 13th. Featuring ladies and gents vintage clothing, accessories, jewellery, arts and crafts and all manner of hidden gems.

Doors open at 10am, free entry for all.

Bannockburn Centre Opens for Final Season

The National Trust for Scotland’s Bannockburn Heritage Centre opens for visitors on 1 March 2012 for its final season. The 1960s building is being replaced by a brand new visitor centre set to open in 2014 to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

Property Manager Scott McMaster said:
"The centre has been at the heart of Bannockburn for a long time and has served it well. Our last year here will be a big success. There are series of living history events from ‘strictly swashbuckling’ to academic talks. I urge everyone to see Bannockburn as it is now for the last time. We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors from near and far and sharing our knowledge of this important place with them. We’ll also be looking ahead to the amazing new facilities we’ll have onsite from 2014 – it’s going to be a whole new era for Bannockburn and visitors will be blown away."

The existing visitor centre will close on 31 October and will then be demolished. In 2013, there will be temporary visitor facilities onsite and the Bannockburn team will carry out an education outreach programme. Construction for the new state-of-the-art visitor centre is set to start in mid-2012.

Generously supported by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the new facility will provide an unrivalled visitor experience making use of the latest technology to bring visitors face to face with medieval battle, and telling the story of this complex battle as accurately as possible. Anyone interested in learning more about the plans for 2014 is invited to attend a community coffee afternoon on Tuesday 13 March at 4.30pm, where the project team will share the latest developments.


PIAF: The Songs and the Eduardo Niebla Experience

Two concerts not be missed at Stirling Tolbooth this weekend.

PIAF: The Songs
The late Edith Piaf has become symbolic of French cabaret of the 1940s and 50s and remains treasured by thousands of fans worldwide.

As the 50th anniversary of Piaf’s death approaches, this beautiful and charismatic production pays a powerful tribute to the legendary French chanteuse. Joined by Fiona Barrow on violin and Edward Jay on accordion, singer Eve Loiseau's lustrous tone and exquisite French accent perfectly captures the essence of the ‘Little Sparrow’. This show promises to be a passionate celebration of Piaf’s best-loved songs interjected by moving insights into the tragic singer’s life. The repertoire for the evening features La Vie En Rose, Bal dans ma rue, Non je ne regrette rien, Padam Padam, and many more.

Friday 24th February at 8:00pm
Tickets £12/£10

The Eduardo Niebla Experience
Hailed as one of the world's greatest guitarists, Spanish composer Eduardo Niebla returns to the Tolbooth with his internationally acclaimed guitar duo to present an amazing repertoire of stunning flamenco jazz from his latest albums. In a career spanning four decades, Niebla has traversed the worlds of pop, jazz and world music, continually seeking out new musical terrain. He has collaborated with such diverse partners as sitar maestro Nishat Khan, George Michael, Lol Coxhill and Craig David. A spellbinding evening of passion, verve and fleet-fingered virtuosity from one of the most potent forces in flamenco jazz fusion.

Saturday 25th February 2012 at 8:00pm
Tickets £14/£12

Puppet Shows this Thursday and Friday in the Great Hall at Stirling Castle

Come along to the magnificent setting of the Great Hall at Stirling Castle on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th February and find out all about Scottish History with Hamish the Highlander and his puppet friends. Performances will take place between 12:00 and 4:00 pm.

Hamish will entertain young and old with his tales of the Jacobites. Janette the Witch will put a spell on you with her magical powers and you can also have the opportunity to meet Pickles, the last bear in Scotland.

Gillian Macdonald, Executive Manager of Edinburgh Castle said: "This is great fun for all the family. It is a brilliant way for children to learn about Scottish history and culture and is also very enjoyable for adults too! The puppet show is included in the admission price to Stirling Castle."

Stirling Tolbooth celebrates it's tenth birthday

This year the Tolbooth celebrates it's tenth birthday and a decade of fantastic music and arts events. For ten years, the Tolbooth has nurtured and developed creative talent in Stirling and beyond, and brought artists from across the globe to the city.

Visit the Tolbooth page on the website to see what's On over the next few months.

Highlights include alternative rock legends The Vaselines, a wonderful production of Piaf – the Songs, Andy Kershaw discussing his fascinating life experiences, composer/ guitarist Graeme Stephen’s captivating audiovisual project, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans and the legendary Gallagher and Lyle.

The Changing Room gallery is celebrating 15 years as a unique space for leading contemporary arts in Stirling. It seems fitting that to mark the occasion, from 10 February, the Changing Room presents 'Criminal", an installation by Hanging Together, a group of artists based in the Stirling area. Find full details on the What's On guide.

Take One Action Film Festival

Scotland’s global cinema project, Take One Action Film Festival, supported by The Co-operative, will hit the road, taking the best of their annual festival on tour with screening events taking place at a variety of venues across Scotland. The featival comes to Stirling thjis month and on offer is a fantastic selection of international cinema that celebrates “the people and movies that are changing the world”.

Take One Action links audiences, movies, campaigners and communities to inspire shared responses to issues of global concern. All film screenings are followed by discussions with experts on subjects ranging from climate change to poverty, providing insight into the actions ordinary people can take to make a difference.

Palm D’or winning British filmmaker and Festival patron, Ken Loach said "These are fantastic films, and Take One Action's focus on empowering local audiences to engage with global and environmental issues through them is unique in the UK."

Programme and Events Manager, Abbe Robinson, said "The Take One Action Film Festival tour is a fantastic opportunity for these critically acclaimed films to be seen outside Edinburgh and Glasgow, and we are really excited to be presenting them to new audiences across Scotland."

Tour dates and venues

Fri 17th Feb Macrobert Centre, Stirling Even The Rain
Sat 18th Feb Ashfield Village Hall, Dunblane There Once was an Island
Sat 18th Feb Ashfield Village Hall, Dunblane Even The Rain
Mon 20th Feb Macrobert Centre, Stirling Homegrown
Tues 21st Feb Rob Roy Visiter Centre, Callander You’ve Been Trumped
Wed 22nd Feb Comrie Village Hall, Comrie You’ve Been Trumped

The Take One Action Film Festival tour is supported by The Co-operative, Creative Scotland, and ethical film distributor Dogwoof.

There are 3 pairs of FREE TICKETS available for each event for Co-operative members – members can email quoting their co-op membership number and the film/venue they would like to attend.

Sunrise - A Song of Two Humans

An exciting audio-visual delight at the Tolbooth on Saturday night with a screening of Sunrise. Graeme Stephen brings together timeless cinema with stunning musical arrangements with a powerful new score that he has written for F. W. Murnau’s Oscar-winning silent film, which tells the story of a married man who falls for a slatternly woman from the city. Once under her spell, the woman attempts to persuade him to drown his wife.

An spellbinding live performance by Graeme’s Quintet will accompany this screening of Murnau’s visual masterpiece, responding to the full range of emotional moods and atmospheres featured in the film. Experience the scintillating instrumental talents of Chris Stout (violin), Ben Davies (cello), Phil Bancroft (saxophone) and Chris Wallace (drums/percussion) as you enjoy what is widely considered to be the finest silent film ever made by a Hollywood studio.

Stephen’s Music speaks loudly of ambition, imagination, nous and harmonic adventure yet teemed with the sort of tuneful realization that swells the heart The Herald

Saturday 4th February, 8pm


Burns Tours at Stirling Castle this weekend

Stirling Castle will be marking Burns Day with special castle tours this weekend to explore Rabbie’s connections with its history in celebration of one of Scotland’s most beloved writers.

The tours will be held on Saturday 21st January and Sunday 22nd January at 12:00 and 2:00 pm each day and are included in the price of admission. Places are limited and are on a first come, first served basis.

Gillian Macdonald, Executive Manager at Stirling Castle said: "The Burns Tours are a must for Burns’ fans and offer a unique insight into another aspect of Stirling Castle, one of Scotland’s most iconic and political sites. Burns was greatly influenced by the personalities, events and issues at Stirling Castle - the infamous Stirling Lines were conceived following his visit to the castle in 1787 and decry the neglected state of the buildings and the loss of the Stewart Monarchy.

It makes you wonder what he would think now if he could see our magnificent Renaissance palace restored to its former glory, the awe-inspiring Great Hall with its triumphant oak hammer beam roof and our costumed characters who bring to life so vividly the great Stewart Dynasty that once ruled this noble land".

These tours mark the end of our Winter Festivals Programme and we are now looking forward to a range of exciting events at Stirling Castle to be launched in the Spring to coincide with the Year of Creative Scotland 2012."

Ross Blevins and Alan Clater, the guides who devised the tour, will be featuring many of Burns’ works including Scots Wha Hae, Ye Jacobites and Tam O’Shanter . Some of the themes that will be explored will include Wallace and Bruce, the Jacobite Rebellion and darker elements of the castle’s past including demonology and witchcraft which feature in some of Burns’ best known works.

New Bannockburn Visitor Centre Needs You

The team working on the new visitor centre to commemorate the Battle of Bannockburn are asking people to share their memories and photos of visiting the site.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:
"There has been so much support for the new centre throughout all of the design and planning work and we want to be able to reflect that. The site marks a momentous historical event, but there has been a visitor centre here since the 1960s and many families will have happy memories of their visit there. In many ways the new centre is just the latest of many chapters in the way that people have come here to learn about the battle and commemorate the lives lost. We would like to share people’s memories and I would encourage people to get involved and share their photos and any home movies with the team."

A new visitor centre will be opened in time for the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in 2014. It is the largest joint project between the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland.

National Trust for Scotland Project Director David McAllister said:
"We very much want to hear from people about their visits to Bannockburn, possibly with their family, friends or even a school group. When we started this project everyone around the table had their own clear memories of visiting the site and what originally struck them about it. Our plans for the new centre are very ambitious but we are determined that it will retain its place in the community and will inspire people to want to understand the lead up to the battle, the battle itself and the far-reaching consequences of the outcome."

"Earlier in the year we invited the community to come and see the plans and meet the team and it was hugely helpful to us in adapting our designs to address issues that only local expertise could identify. Now we would like people of all ages from all around the globe to send us their pictures and home movies to learn what made their visit memorable."

You can send in your memories or photographs to or by post to:

Historic Scotland Communications Team
G50 Longmore House
Salisbury Place

From the Historic Scotland website

Stirling Hogmanay 2011

Stirling is ready to welcome in the new year with a great line-up of Scotland’s most talented performers and musicians. Set against the stunning backdrop of Stirling Castle we have all the ingredients in place for a fantastic night with an exciting mix of traditional and contemporary Scottish music.

Making a welcome return to Stirling’s Hogmanay Party at the Castle this year is Scotland’s own Eddi Reader. Eddi, who wowed Stirling Hogmanay audiences in 2005, will join the great line-up of acts this year including The Red Hot Chilli Pipers and the Heart of Scotland Choir.

Eddi began her musical career as a session singer working with the Eurythmics and Alison Moyet. She came to prominence in the 1980s with the band Fairground Attraction who were awarded Best Single for their number one hit Perfect and Best Album at the 1989 Brit Awards. In the years since then Eddi has established herself as one of Scotland’s finest singers and performers with 9 critically acclaimed solo albums and 3 collections of Robert Burns’ songs.

Also headlining this year are the Red Hot Chilli Pipers - formed in 2002, the Chilli’s have gone from strength to strength, culminating in their winning of TV talent show ‘When will I be famous’ in 2007. Since then they have been jetting around the world, playing in numerous countries for huge crowds.

Tickets can be bought from the Tolbooth or Albert Halls, or online at

From the Stirling Council website

Future development for Bridge of Allan and Causewayhead

Stirling Councillors from all political parties will be discussing future development proposals for Bridge of Allan and Causewayhead on Tuesday 13 December at Wallace High School.

Local residents are being given the opportunity to comment on the Draft Proposed Local Development Plan, at a ‘Community Discussion Session,’ which will be held from 7pm to 9pm in the local high school.

Before this, on Saturday 10 December between 10am and 4pm in Wallace High School, there is a drop-in session at which local people will be able to find out more about what the Draft Plan proposes for their community. Planning Officers will be on hand to explain the development proposals and answer any queries.

The Local Development Plan will be a blueprint for the development of the Stirling Council area over the next twenty-five years and Bridge of Allan and Causewayhead have been identified as areas for potential development. Stirling Council is currently consulting with communities across the area to give local people a further opportunity to comment on the Draft Local Development Plan.

Stirling Council’s Portfolio Holder with responsibility for Environment and Sustainability Councillor Jim Thomson said: “The Council are keen to find out what local people think of proposed development, and to take account of their views in the preparation of the new Local Development Plan. This Plan will shape our communities over the next two decades, and it is important that all in the local community are able to have their say on the development proposals”.

Comments on the Draft Local Development Plan should be made in writing, or by email to For more information please visit

Comments received on the Draft Local Development Plan will be reported to the Council in the early new year, and a Proposed Plan will then be prepared and published. There will be further opportunity at that point to comment on the Proposed Plan, which will go forward to the Scot

From the Stirling Council website

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