There's 'snow' place like the Borders this Christmas!
VISITORS are being encouraged to travel to the Scottish Borders this Christmas for a unique new festival.
Several of the region’s towns and attractions have come together to host the first ever Scottish Borders Winter Festival. Special events are taking place in Galashiels, Kelso, Jedburgh, Selkirk and Hawick on the first two weekends in December (3-4 and 10-11).
Free buses will be running from Galashiels Railway Station to all the participating towns and attractions on both weekends to offer shoppers the unique opportunity to experience the region as a whole.
Highlights of the Festival include Grass Sledging with Born in Borders, a Kitsch Tea Party in Galashiels, the Selkirk Yarnbombers, a Christmas Tree Festival in Hawick and a Christmas Concert at Abbotsford House. Visitors can also soak up the festive atmosphere at a variety of Christmas markets and take part in guided tours, food and drink experiences and storytelling.
The region has strong links to the fashion and textile industry and is home to a host of local craftsmen, artists and specialist food and drink businesses creating distinct products from the outstanding natural larder and taking inspiration from the spectacular scenery on offer on their doorstep.
From hand-made confectionary to real ale, paintings to knitwear, the region is the ideal location for some inspirational and unique gift ideas this Christmas.
And with the re-establishment of the Borders Railway last year, people can make the trip on the 30-mile scenic route from Edinburgh to Galashiels this December and make the most of the authentic shopping experience on offer and a warm Borders welcome.
Doug Wilson, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “We are well and truly on the countdown to Christmas and we would encourage visitors to take a day trip down to the Borders for a truly authentic shopping experience. The re-establishment of the railway line from Edinburgh through Midlothian to the Scottish Borders has had a massive impact on the local economy.
“Not only is the railway the perfect way to experience the beauty of the region, but visitors can also make the most of the bus services and visit the towns taking part in the first ever Scottish Borders winter festivals.
“The Scottish Borders is a county rich in diverse cultural industries with artists, potters, glassmakers and textile artists all based in the area. We also have strong links to the textile industry with a number of local companies used by top designer brands. Food and drink also plays a critical role in attracting visitors to the area with a number of quality producers placing emphasis on the provenance of their locally sourced produce. Whatever you are looking for this Christmas, take advantage of the transport on offer and make a trip down to the region for a memorable shopping experience.”
Will Haegeland of Destination Scottish Borders, organisers of the Scottish Borders Winter Festivals, said: “For the first time, Destination Scottish Borders – a collaborative group of towns in the Borders have come together to create a winter festival providing an additional experience to the Edinburgh Christmas Market.
“We’ve seen a great spirit of co-operation from every town involved and we are all focused on making this a success we can further build on for the future. Our overall aim is to make sure the Scottish Borders is seen as a destination in its own right.”
Councillor Stuart Bell, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Economic Development, said: “This is a fantastic initiative by Destination Scottish Borders, which I hope will encourage people from across Edinburgh, Midlothian and beyond to travel down to the Borders to see for themselves the outstanding products available in this area and enjoy our fabulous attractions and food and drink.
“I am delighted that the Council has been able to support Destination Scottish Borders turn this idea into reality, and it is great to see our Border towns come together to put on this type of activity for local people and visitors.”
Nesta Gilliland, Head of Marketing at Scotrail, said: “Our regular services are the perfect way to reach the many attractions the Borders has to offer and to experience beautiful countryside while you travel. The combination of train and complementary buses means shoppers don’t have to worry about jams and parking spaces, leaving them free to concentrate on finding special gifts for their friends and family this Christmas.”
The Borders Railway opened in September 2015 following a £294 million investment by the Scottish Government to re-establish passenger railway services between Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank for the first time since 1969.
The development includes 30 miles of railway and seven stations with a timetable offering half-hourly services on weekdays and Saturdays, including peak time cross-Edinburgh services to and from Fife.
For more information and a list of all the events at the Scottish Borders Winter Festivals, visit www.borderswinterfestival.com