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Growing greener credentials at Logan Botanic GardenGrowing greener credentials at Logan Botanic Garden
Added: 14 Mar 2018
Logan Botanic Garden, one of Dumfries & Galloway’s leading visitor attractions, has underscored its commitment to saving the environment by being one of the first Gardens in Scotland to install an electric vehicle charge point.

The Garden, which already holds a Gold Green Tourism Award, received a 75 per cent grant from the Energy Saving Trust, for the double 7KW charge point which has been installed in the visitor car park.

Garden Curator Richard Baines said: “I believe Logan to be the first Garden in Scotland to install an electric charge point for vehicles. We are now able to attract electric car users from far and wide. They will have the confidence to visit because they know they will have power for the return journey.’’

He added: “Logan is continually looking at ways to improve its green credentials. We wholeheartedly support the eco-movement towards electrically operated vehicles to safeguard our planet by reducing harmful emissions and greenhouse gases. By reducing climate change we will aid plant conservation and reduce habitat destruction.

“Being part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh - with a Mission Statement dedicated to conserve, explore and explain the world of plants for a better future- it is important to integrate the organisation’s work with the wider ecological benefits of creating a far greater sustainable environment, as a whole, and to show all our visitors what everyone could achieve with a bit of work”.

Other green practices at Logan include the solar PV and air source heat pumps running the carbon-neutral Logan Conservatory to being part of the new initiative Refill D&G to reduce plastic waste.

The range of eco-friendly and recycled goods sold in the gift shop is also vast and very in keeping with the sustainable theme that the staff operate on a daily basis.
Added: 08 Mar 2018
The first polar bear cub to be born in the UK for 25 years has emerged at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park.

Previously, the birth had only been confirmed by high-pitched noises heard from the maternity den. Now the cub’s first venture into the outside world has been caught on cameras installed by STV Productions during a two-year exclusive project to document the breeding and birth of the cub.

The cameras have been positioned outside the female polar bear’s den since early February, giving unprecedented access for a forthcoming documentary, made for Channel 4 by STV Productions, about the park’s pioneering polar bear breeding programme.

The cub was born in the week before Christmas, with mum Victoria having mated with Arktos, one of two male polar bears at the park, at Kincraig near Kingussie.

Victoria and her cub’s enclosure will remain closed to the public until late March to ensure privacy. Arktos can still be viewed in the enclosure he shares with Walker, the park’s other male.

Una Richardson, head keeper responsible for carnivores, said, “Victoria had started to come outside by herself for short periods to eat, drink and roll around in the snow, so we knew her cub would soon follow her but we couldn’t be sure when.

“I was visiting Victoria on Sunday morning to check she had fresh water and to continue slowly reintroducing food to her diet, after four months during which she lived solely off the fat reserves she built up before she entered her den.

“Suddenly I saw a small, fluffy bundle next to her and had to pinch myself to check I wasn’t seeing things. It was a very special experience and one I’ll never forget. We also have motion-sensitive cameras safely positioned near Victoria’s den and we were delighted to see we had captured her cub’s first few steps outside.

“Both mum and cub appear to be doing well, though this is still a sensitive time and they need as much peace and quiet as possible. Our keeper activity at their enclosure will remain at a minimum for the next couple of weeks, after which visitors will be able to see Victoria and our wonderful new arrival.

“In the coming weeks we’ll also be able to find out if we have a little boy or girl and then we’ll decide on a name.”

Born blind and weighing little more than a guinea pig, the cub is now able to see and is the size of a Scottish terrier, having fed exclusively on Victoria’s fat-rich milk over the past 12 weeks.

The cub’s arrival has been welcomed by polar bear conservation charity Polar Bears International, whose executive director Krista Wright said, “We would like to congratulate Highland Wildlife Park on the successful birth of their polar bear cub.

“With polar bears facing grave threats from sea ice loss in a warming climate, it is important for facilities like Highland Wildlife Park to help educate visitors and involve them in solutions. This cub will serve as an ambassador for its wild cousins, inspiring people to care.”

Britain’s Polar Bear Cub airs on Channel 4 at 7pm on Sunday 18 March.

Added: 20 Feb 2018
We are delighted to announce that visits to our member sites rose dramatically in 2017, the fifth year running that an increase in numbers has been recorded.

Analysis of statistics submitted by 232 member sites for the annual ‘Visitor Trend Report’ confirms that over 30 million visits were made to those sites in Scotland in 2017, a rise of 9.7% over 2016 figures. The increase comes on top of a 6% rise in 2016, which itself followed a 3.4% rise in 2015, confirming once again that visitor attractions in Scotland are enjoying a period of sustained growth.

The two top sites – The National Museum of Scotland and Edinburgh Castle – each attracted more than 2 million visits, the first time that any visitor attraction in Scotland has surpassed the 2 million milestone. Overall, 77% of attractions reported an increase over 2016 figures, with a significant number noting that 2017 was their ‘best year to date’.

Sectors which fared particularly well in 2017 include castles and heritage sites (+14.7%), museums and galleries (+7.5%), gardens (+13.6%) and distilleries/whisky-related attractions (+11.8%).

Edinburgh continued to dominate the marketplace, with 11 of the top 20 attractions located in the city. The National Museum of Scotland welcomed the most visitors over this period, while Edinburgh Castle retained its status as the most popular ‘paid’ attraction. Overall, some 59% of all visits were made to attractions that featured in the top 20 list.

Another area of Scotland which fared well in 2017 was the Highlands. Inverewe Garden in Wester Ross enjoyed a major uplift in visitor numbers (+110%), driven in part by the popularity of the North Coast 500 touring route.

Attractions in the vicinity of Loch Ness, including the medieval fortress of Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness by Jacobite, which offers scenic cruises on the loch, continued to demonstrate above average growth with increases in visitor numbers of 23% and 29% respectively. Both attractions are benefiting from a programme of visits of around 30,000 per year, from a tour operator specialising in the Chinese market.

The ‘Outlander’ effect continued to benefit many sites featuring in the cult TV series, as well as others with Jacobite connections, with large increases in visitor numbers recorded at attractions including Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre (+ 28%), Glasgow Cathedral (+31%), Castle Fraser (+49%) and Glenfinnan Monument (+58%) .
Distilleries and whisky-related attractions also enjoyed a successful year, with notable rises recorded at Blair Athol Distillery Visitor Centre (+18%), Caol Ila Distillery Visitor Centre (+32%), Glen Ord Distillery Visitor Centre (+28%) and Kingsbarns Distillery (+30%), while The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh welcomed 16% more visitors through its doors.
Welcoming the figures in ASVA’s 2017 Visitor Trends Report, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “With Scotland’s iconic tourist sites attracting over 30 million visits, 2017 was another hugely successful year for our world-class visitor attractions.

“Tourism is of vital importance to communities throughout Scotland, stimulating economic growth and promoting the importance of our cultural heritage to a wider audience.

“These latest figures demonstrate that our visitor attractions are continuing to create quality experiences, helping build our reputation as a premier tourism destination for people from around the world.”
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The Scotch Whisky Experience adds sign languages to its toursThe Scotch Whisky Experience adds sign languages to its tours
Added: 14 Feb 2018
In a pivotal move to enhance accessibility, the Scotch Whisky Experience have invested over £50,000 into multi-functional audio guides which feature interpreters conducting tours in both British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL).
As 80% of visitors to The Scotch Whisky Experience come from overseas, subtitled tours in German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch and Swedish will also be launching, allowing deaf visitors from these countries to enjoy the tour in their own language.
The addition of the new BSL and ASL devices means that they now offer whisky tours in a total of 20 languages at the Scotch Whisky Experience.
Lenka Whyles, Head of Operations at The Scotch Whisky Experience, said: “Investing in American and British Sign Language to enhance our suite of languages shows both our commitment to accessibility and our wish for all our visitors to enjoy a 5-star experience in their own language.
“Careful consideration has been given to the background colour of the screen on the new devices, as well as the clothes of the interpreters to make them as user-friendly as possible and we also flew one of the American signers over from the USA.
“We are really excited that this project is ready to go live and very much look forward to welcoming our first BSL and ASL customers.”
The BSL and ASL tours at the Scotch Whisky Experience were officially launched from Tuesday 23rd January.
In 2017, the visitor attraction continued its commitment to accessibility and made upgrades to allow increased flexibility for wheelchair users, enabling them to experience the new audio-visual tour elements in full. A wheelchair was also purchased for visitors to use on a free of charge basis.
The full list of languages offered at The Scotch Whisky Experience is as follows: British Sign Language, American Sign Language, Gaelic, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Japanese, Czech, Russian, Mandarin, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese and Cantonese.
53rd Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition53rd Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition
Added: 18 Jan 2018
The world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, on loan from the Natural History Museum in London, returns to Edinburgh, opening at the National Museum of Scotland on Friday 19 January 2018.

Taking over the Museum’s largest exhibition gallery for the first time, this will be the only Scottish venue for the exhibition. The 100 extraordinary images celebrate the diversity of the natural world, from intimate animal portraits to astonishing wild landscapes.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the most prestigious photography event of its kind, providing a global platform that showcases the natural world’s most astonishing and challenging sights for over 50 years.

Winning images are selected for their creativity, originality and technical excellence. Launching in 1965 and attracting 361 entries, today the competition receives almost 50,000 entries from 92 countries highlighting its enduring appeal. This year’s 100 award-winning images will embark on an international tour that allows them to be seen by millions of people.

The exhibition features acclaimed photographs displayed on large-format, backlit panels, as they are at the Natural History Museum’s own exhibition showing. Visitors can learn how the photographers captured their shots, and come face-to-face with some of nature’s most astonishing and challenging sights.

Dr Nick Fraser, Keeper of Natural Sciences at National Museums Scotland, said:

“We are thrilled that the National Museum of Scotland will host the 53rd Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, from the Natural History Museum in London. These captivating images offer visitors new perspectives on the wonders of the natural world, and are as arresting as they are beautiful.”

Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, said:

“Wildlife Photographer of the Year is one of our most successful touring exhibitions, enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. The awarded images shine a spotlight on nature photography as a work of art, whilst raising questions about our crucial role in shaping a sustainable future.”

Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the National Museum of Scotland is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lotter. Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said:

“We are delighted that the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Depicting everything from spectacular underwater worlds and unusual animal behaviours to breath-taking landscapes and images which examine our own impact on the natural world, this world-class exhibition has something for everyone.”

Friday 19 January to Sunday 29 April 2018
National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh

Admission: £10 adults, £8 concession, children (age 12-15) £7. Entry is free to National Museums Scotland Members and children under 12.

Added: 08 Jan 2018
As The Royal Yacht Britannia, in Edinburgh, prepares to mark 20 years since opening its doors to the public in 1998, the team is also celebrating a remarkable achievement, ending 2017 with a phenomenal 390,482 visitors, the highest number of visitors ever recorded. This also represents a 12% year-on-year increase on 2016.

Commenting on this success, Chief Executive of The Royal Yacht Britannia, Bob Downie said, “2017 was a phenomenally busy year and it’s a great tribute to the professionalism of our staff that we also retained our position as Scotland’s Best Visitor Attraction for a record 12th year in a row.”

2018 is due to be another landmark year for the famous ship, marking 20 years since opening its doors as a visitor attraction in Edinburgh, together with the opening of Fingal in summer, a major £3.5million luxury floating hotel and events venue by Britannia’s trading company, Royal Yacht Enterprises.

Bob continued, “This success could not have come at a better time, as we look forward to the launch of our new 23-bedroom luxury hotel accommodation and unique events venue, on the former Northern Lighthouse Board tender, Fingal, opening in the summer of 2018.”

Bob and his team at Britannia are wholly committed to providing an exceptional customer experience for visitors and delivering great value for time and money, as demonstrated by the very high percentage of Excellent Reviews on TripAdvisor. To date, over 5.6 million people from across the world have had the opportunity to experience the five star visitor attraction.
Calanais Visitor Centre delves beneath the peatCalanais Visitor Centre delves beneath the peat
Added: 18 Dec 2017

Following a successful funding application to the Digital Adoption Scheme from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Calanais Visitor Centre have been able to partner with Dr Richard Bates of the University of St Andrews to look underneath the peat that surrounds the township of Calanais.

Richard approached Calanais Visitor Centre whilst popping by the visitor centre and of course the magnificent Calanais Standing Stones. Built over 5000 years ago, the site was in use for around 2000 years before it fell out of use. In the 1800s, it was ordered that the 1.5m worth of peat that had built up around the stones be cleared away to reveal the stones as we see them today.

Richard and his team at St Andrews will be using a range of techniques including LiDAR to map the surrounding paleo-landscape. Whilst the Calanais Standing Stones are an iconic site, there is around 20 other stone circles within the vicinity of Calanais and this research will give us a greater insight into what is hiding underneath the peat!

The team from the University of St Andrews will be at Calanais this December and an update on the findings will be reported in the coming months.
William Henry Playfair @ the City Art CentreWilliam Henry Playfair @ the City Art Centre
Added: 18 Dec 2017
Rarely seen drawings from the architect responsible for shaping Edinburgh’s celebrated cityscape have gone on display in a new exhibition at the City Art Centre. Around 50 drawings from William Henry Playfair’s practice, including plans for some of Edinburgh’s most famous landmarks complemented by images made by 19th Century painters showing some of his most well-regarded buildings, have been gathered from the University of Edinburgh’s Department of Architectural History and its Centre for Research Collections, Historic Environment Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council’s permanent collection to create this exhibition.

Playfair (1790 – 1857) is considered one of Scotland’s most prolific Georgian architects. His contribution to the architecture of early 19th century Edinburgh is found in many of the city’s most famous buildings, including Old College and New College, Donaldson’s School, George Heriots, the Scott Monument, Surgeon’s Hall, the Royal Scottish Academy and the City’s Observatory on Calton Hill.

Through his career Playfair addressed some of the key ideas around aesthetics, classics, society and politics, and their relationship with architecture and the urban realm.

His move from neo-Classical to neo-Gothic buildings demonstrates how Playfair and his architectural practice were engaged in shaping Edinburgh as a developing, working city as it entered the rapidly industrialised Victorian age, signifying his vision and ambition for Edinburgh as a place of significance within the British Isles.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, said: “Almost anywhere you turn in Edinburgh, look up and you are likely to see Playfair’s magnificent monuments, domes, spires and structures scattering the skyline. “Drawing on his designs and the artwork in the Council and University archives, this free exhibition maps Playfair’s built and unbuilt ideas and the impact he had on Edinburgh.

“It is thanks to his vision that Edinburgh earned its ‘Athens of the North’ title, with his breath-taking City Observatory one of his earliest projects. See the architectural drawings at the City Art Centre, as we work with the Collective to return the building to Playfair’s original design.”

The exhibition is on show at the City Art Centre until 25 February 2018.
Lady Victoria Colliery presented with prestigious engineering heritage awardLady Victoria Colliery presented with prestigious engineering heritage award
Added: 18 Dec 2017
One of the best preserved Victorian colliery complexes in Europe was honoured with the latest Engineering Heritage Award by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers last month.

The colliery was honoured for being the most complete example of a large 19th century coal mine in the UK. When production commenced in 1895 The Lady had the deepest, largest diameter shaft and most powerful winding engine in the Scottish coalfields. At her peak a labour force of 1,765 produced 2,000 tons of coal per day.

Mhairi Cross, Chief Executive at the National Mining Museum Scotland, said: “We are delighted to have been presented with this award, which celebrates not just the achievements of the original engineers who developed the colliery, but also the work of our team at the museum to restore and maintain the site.”

Opened in 1895 in Newtongrange, the Lady Victoria Colliery was one of Scotland’s first ‘super pits’ with a 501 metre brick lined shaft. It was designed and built as the showpiece for its owners, the Lothian Coal Company, adopting all the latest cutting-edge mining and engineering technology of the day.

At its peak in the 1950’s, ‘The Lady’, as it is affectionately known, directly employed about 2,000 people with 40 million tons of coal being extracted by the time of its closure in 1981.

In 1984, the site was reopened as the Scottish Mining Museum, offering visitors a unique insight into what is one of the most complete examples of Victorian mining, engineering and industrial innovation.

This award is the seventh award presented in Scotland, following other engineering sites/artefacts such as the Titan Crane (Glasgow), Cruachan power station (Dalmally) and the PS Waverley paddle steamer.
This is the 111th Engineering Heritage Award to be presented by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The awards, established in 1984, aim to promote artefacts, sites or landmarks of significant engineering importance – past and present.

Previous recipients of the awards include Tower Bridge, the E-type Jaguar and Concorde.
Spirit returns to the Clyde as The Clydeside Distillery officially opens Spirit returns to the Clyde as The Clydeside Distillery officially opens
Added: 18 Dec 2017
Whisky distilling is alive once more on the banks of the River Clyde as The Clydeside Distillery has now officially opened its doors to the public. The distillery, between the Riverside Museum and SSE Hydro, is now producing the first spirit in the area for more than 100 years. Sitting on the site formerly known as The Queen’s Dock, once the beating heart of Glasgow’s shipping industry, The Pump House, with its famous clock tower, includes a 5-star visitor centre with interactive whisky experience, shop and café. The stunning copper stills sitting pride of place will produce a high quality Lowland single malt Scotch whisky.

Glasgow’s links to the whisky industry have been brought to life through words, pictures and film as visitors make their way through 140 years of history as part of a self-led and guided tour. The Pump House once controlled entry into The Queen’s Dock, one of the city’s most famous shipping ports built by Morrison and Mason in 1877. This ensured Customs and Excise could keep a close eye on goods in and out, including Scotch whisky. Owned by Morrison Glasgow Distillers Ltd, The Clydeside Distillery’s Chairman Tim Morrison is the great grandson of John Morrison, who originally built The Queen’s Dock in 1877. Tim, formerly of Morrison Bowmore Distillers is current proprietor of the AD Rattray Scotch Whisky Company.

The project to transform The Pump House into an operational whisky distillery began in 2012 and has been spearheaded by Tim and his son Andrew, the distillery’s Commercial Director.
Tim Morrison said: “This is an exciting day for Glasgow and the Scotch whisky industry. After more than a century copper stills are producing spirit on the banks of the Clyde and we’re incredibly proud to be able to open our doors to the public.

“Glasgow has an affinity with Scotch whisky unlike any other city in the world with The Queen’s Dock previously witnessing the exports of whisky with ships sailing past the Pump House destined for all continents of the world.

“Of course for me and my family there is a very personal link knowing that my great grandfather built The Queen’s Dock where The Clydeside Distillery now sits. We’re looking forward to the future and seeing whisky produced in the heart of Glasgow once again.”
Andrew Morrison said: “This project has been a labour of love and I’m very proud to see The Clydeside Distillery now open. Today marks the culmination of a long-standing vision to put Glasgow back on the Scotch whisky map.

“We are passionate about using traditional methods to produce our whisky, albeit with a bit of modern technology. We’re combining this with the skills of our distillers to ensure we stay true to the techniques employed for hundreds of years.

“We want to welcome everyone, from Glasgow natives and Scottish whisky lovers to international whisky enthusiasts, tourists and those who are visiting the city. Glasgow has a long and special relationship with Scotch whisky and our visitor experience will bring this to life.”
Splendours of the Sub-continent - Palace of HolyroodhouseSplendours of the Sub-continent - Palace of Holyroodhouse
Added: 18 Dec 2017

15 December 2017 – 22 April 2018

Experience some of the finest Indian treasures from the Royal Collection, including jewellery, gold and ceremonial arms, gifted to the Prince of Wales on his grand tour of the Subcontinent in 1875-76. Visiting over 21 regions, which today are part of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal, the future King Edward VII travelled nearly 10,000 miles and met over 90 different local rulers. This historic visit is told through the works of art presented as part of the traditional exchange of gifts. Highlights include an exquisite enamelled and diamond-set gold ink stand from Benares (modern Varanasi), and a stunning bejewelled dagger presented by the Maharaja of Alwar.

Splendours exhibition image: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017/Sandy Young
NEW ERA - Scottish Modern ArtNEW ERA - Scottish Modern Art
Added: 05 Dec 2017
National Galleries of Scotland are delighted to announce the opening of A New Era: Scottish Modern Art 1900-1950. This exhibition is now open at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

This major new exhibition in Modern Two reveals the remarkable yet relatively unknown response by Scottish artists of the explosion of modern art in Europe in the first half of the 20th Century. More than 100 paintings, sculptures and works on paper by over 50 artists are on display.

The radical new work produced in Paris around the turn of the century by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse was a catalyst for Scottish modernism. A New Era charts their influence on artists like JD Fergusson and SJ Peploe, through to Alan Davie, Doris Zinkeisen, William Gear, Margaret Mellis and Eduardo Paolozzi, who were at the forefront of European contemporary art in the 1950s.

Runs until 10 June 2018
Leading the way on WeChat PayLeading the way on WeChat Pay
Added: 18 Sep 2017
The Scotch Whisky Experience has become one of a growing number of businesses in Edinburgh signing up to Chinese social media transaction system WeChat Pay, with new software installed in early September.

The software allows Chinese visitors at participating businesses to pay for products and services by scanning a QR code on their phone, which links with their WeChat profile and bank account information. Staff at the Scotch Whisky Experience have undergone training on using the system, to encourage Chinese visitors to the attraction to make purchases in the shop through this more familiar, accessible and secure application. WeChat Pay is one of the most popular methods of payment in mainland China, with the vast majority using it to carry out all daily transactions, dispensing with the need to carry cash.

The installation of WeChat Pay is an important step for the Scotch Whisky Experience, which has seen incredible growth recent years, taking China to their third largest overseas visitor market. This follows in the steps of the hugely successful China Ready campaign, run throughout 2017 and facilitated by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group. The programme is aimed at promoting the city of Edinburgh to visitors from China, and at helping businesses to market themselves more effectively to the Chinese market.

“We’re very proud to be among the first in Edinburgh to adopt WeChat Pay as one of our key payment methods” said Tony Dick, Finance Director at the Scotch Whisky Experience. “As the Chinese tourism market goes from strength to strength, and with growing usage of China’s other transaction method, UnionPay, it’s great to be at the forefront of the technological developments that ensure those who choose to visit our amazing city feel welcomed and secure in making transactions using a method they’re familiar with.”
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