Something for the weekend ? Nature festivals

Scotland’s Nature Festival starts on May 17 and runs for nine days. This year there are over 160 events which provide great opportunities for people to get up close to nature. We’ve organised the festival with our partners to celebrate Scotland’s wildlife and landscapes.

Red squirrel  (Image by Mark Hamblin/2020VISION)

Red squirrel

One of the highlights of the Festival will be The Cairngorms Nature Festival which takes place over the weekend of 17 and 18 May. It is a weekend to inspire and engage people to take an interest in the Park. The Burn O’Vat visitor centre at the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve is hosting many of the events and here is a flavour of what you can do and see there on Saturday May 17.

Dawn Chorus Walk, 6.308.30 am
Come and experience the early morning sights and sounds at Cambus o’May. Led by Forestry Commission ranger Emily Holmes. Meet at the Cambus O’May Forestry Commission car park.

Winged Wonders, 10 am – 12 pm
Meet at Burn O’Vat visitor centre to look at last night’s live moth trap catch, followed by a butterfly walk from Cambus O’May bridge car park. Led by Aberdeenshire Council ranger, Helen Rowe. Booking essential.

Mud Pie Adventures, 10.30 am – 12 pm
Nature fun for the adventuresome! Activities to capture the magic of the outdoors and inspire your child to connect with nature. Meet at Burn O’Vat visitor centre, led by Mandy Tulloch of Mudpies. Booking essential.

Foraging and Wild Food Walk, 10 am – 12 pm
Join Willow Lohr, local bushcraft instructor on a walk around the reserve to find out about edible plants and wild plant lore. Meet at Burn O’Vat. Booking essential.

Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve (Image by Lorne Gill / SNH)

Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve

Restoring Forests, 12.301.30 pm
Come and discover the aims of the Cairngorms Caledonian Forest Futurescapes project, a  vision to restore the forest and its nature. By Douglas Gooday of RSPB Scotland at Burn O’Vat.

Mud Pie Adventures, 12.30 pm
A second chance to connect with nature, led by Mandy Tulloch of Mudpies. Booking essential.

Wild Crafts, 13 pm
Learn natural crafts like simple wood carving, making natural cordage and willow whistles. Led by Willow Lohr, local bushcraft instructor. Meet at Burn O’Vat. Booking essential.

Walk on the Wild Side, 24 pm
Come and explore RSPB Crannach reserve, a guided walk by reserve manager Stuart Jennings. Meet at the Cambus O’May Forestry Commission car park.

Many activities are outside, so please dress appropriately, there will also be stalls offering children’s activities and information about local wildlife at the Burn O’Vat visitor centre all day.

Burn O'Vat visitor centre (Image by Catriona Reid)

Burn O’Vat visitor centre

The stunning Burn O'Vat (Image by Lorne Gill / SNH)

The stunning Burn O’Vat

The launch of the Cairngorms Nature festival takes place on Saturday at Glenmore Forest Park, 500m on the right after the Forestry Commission visitor centre. The event is due to start at 10:30 with welcomes from Joe Moore, Director of Corporate Services at Scottish Natural Heritage, and Cairngorms National Park convener Duncan Bryden. There will then be a short presentation and launch of the ancient woodland restoration project by the Woodland Trust’s Peter Lowe.

There is no doubt that the Cairngorms National Park is an outstanding place for wildlife:

– A quarter of the UK’s rare and endangered species live in the Park
– Almost half the Park is of European importance and designated within the Natura 2000 network
– Strathspey is the most important mainland breeding site for farmland waders (e.g. lapwing and oystercatcher)
– The mountains are the largest and highest montane habitat in the UK
– The forests are the biggest and best connected semi-natural woodlands in the UK with a quarter of Scotland’s native woodland
– 80% of Scotland’s capercaillie population live in Strathspey



For those who can’t manage to take part in the Cairngorms Nature Festival there are many events on offer over the nine days of the Scotland’s Nature Festival. In the Lothians, a Mini-Beast Monster Event takes place at Holyrood Park, whilst there is a chance to get creative in the Nature Collage Competition at Armadale Community Centre and Library.

In the heart of Grangemouth you can join in wildlife spotting activities for all the family, including pond dipping, mini-beast hunting, tree trailing, bird watching and more at Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre.

As spring shifts into summer make the most of the many nature festivals and events on offer across Scotland.

An Lochan Uaine in the Cairngorms National Park

An Lochan Uaine in the Cairngorms National Park


Further information:

You can find out more about Scotland’s Nature Festival at’s%20Nature%20Festival/

You can find out more about The Cairngorms Nature Festival at


Image credits : All images by Lorne Gill/SNH, except red squirrel and capercaillie by Mark Hamblin/2020VISION and Burn O’Vat visitor centre by Catriona Reid.

This entry was posted in National Nature Reserves, Projects and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.