Pony express

VISITSCOTLAND is encouraging visitors, especially young people, to travel to the Scottish Borders by train this summer to experience the region’s unique Common Ridings and festivals.

The events celebrate the remarkable history and unique identity of the region, upholding ancient traditions with hundreds of horses and their riders gathering in 11 of the region’s town over the course of the summer.

As well as the opportunity to witness the unforgettable equine spectacle, there are a whole host of activities and associated celebrations that young people and families can get involved in.

By looking to the past, each Borders town takes its turn, throughout June, July and August, to uphold traditions dating back centuries and bring their communities together to take part in activities ranging from torchlight processions to fancy dress parades.

The local celebrations involve everything from theatre to athletics and from gymkanas to dancing the reel. Many of the festivals involve young people with local school children and community groups taking a leading role in the celebrations.

The re-establishment of the Borders Railway means that the traditional Borders Common Ridings and festivals are now more accessible than ever before. As part of the Borders Railway Blueprint partnership, the national tourism organisation seeks to maximize benefits from the new Borders Railway.


Paula Ward, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said: “During the Year of Young People, I would encourage young people and families from all over Scotland to make the journey on the Borders Railway to experience what is truly one of the country’s best kept secrets and a fantastic day out to boot.

“The Common Ridings are one of the oldest equestrian festivals in the world and a wonderful spectacle to witness. Their many association traditions and celebrations also offer fantastic opportunities for visitors, especially families, to get involved, and not just on horseback!

“Where else in the country can you wake up to the sound of a pipe band and witness hundreds of horses and their riders gallop across the dramatic landscape of the Scottish Borders. And this can be topped off with great music, dancing in the street and fancy dress competitions - all in one day!

“The Common Ridings and festivals can attract more than 110,000 visitors and provide a major boost to the local visitor economy*. VisitScotland works closely with communities and businesses to showcase the rich assets, hidden gems and local stories of every region in Scotland. We hope to encourage young people and families especially to make the journey on the Borders Railway to soak up the atmosphere at these unique events this year.”

Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, said: “The Common Ridings and summer festivals are iconic events in the Scottish Borders, which people from across the world visit every year.

“With the Borders Railway, it is now even easier to access much of the Borders so I would encourage people of all ages who have not experienced one of our festivals to see for themselves what a fantastic day out it is.”

ScotRail Alliance Tourism Manager Alasdair Smart said: “We’re really looking forward to once again help visitors from across the country, and beyond, travel to the Common Ridings and experience the natural beauty of the Borders.

“Tourism is a key economic sector in Scotland and we recognise the critical role we play in it. Supporting tourism, businesses and local communities is a key part of our plan to build the best railway that Scotland has ever had.”

For more information on the Common Ridings and festivals, including travel information, visit: http://returntotheridings.co.uk/