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stirling news in 2009

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

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Advice for Hogmanay Party At Stirling Castle

Come prepared for a fantastic night of celebrations at Stirling’s Hogmanay Party at the Castle – that’s the message from Stirling Council and 103.1 Central FM. Party revellers are being urged to wrap up warm and bring their New Year tipple in plastic bottles for the celebrations on Thursday December 31, 2009 at Stirling Castle. Gates open at 8.30pm and the party gets underway at 9pm.

Central FM DJs will welcome the crowd and introduce the sensational performers Gary Mullen, Sandi Thom and The MacDonald Brothers, along with local artistes Eliott Greer, The Shermans and Stageworx who will entertain the crowds up to the Bells when there will be a spectacular fantastic firework display. The show continues afterwards until 12.30am.

The Hogmanay celebrations will affect the following local roads:

Ballengeich Road and Upper and Lower Castle Hill will be closed to vehicle traffic from 12.00 hrs on 31st December. Barn Road will have a staggered closure at the bottom to allow residents access only, from 12.00 Hrs, and a firm closure at the top also from 12.00 hrs. These closures will be opened at 06.00 hrs on 1st January.

St Johns Street, Mar Place, Castle Wynd, Spittal St and Broad Street will be closed at 18.00 hrs on 31st December and opened at 06.00 Hrs on 1st January. There will be an extended access period for residents who live within the road closure area until 19.00 upon presentation of their Hogmanay information letter to stewards. Registered Disabled Badge holders have access until 20.00. Vehicles within these areas are requested not to move around within the area after the detailed times.

Parking will be available at Goosecroft Road Car Park, Burghmuir Car Park, Linden Avenue Car Park, Wellgreen Car Park, Viewforth Car Park and Forthside Car Park.

Pet owners are also being warned to keep any nervous pets inside, as the spectacular fire works display gets underway from the Castle after the bells.

From the Stirling Council website.

Festive Dining fit for a king at Stirling Castle

One of the highlights of Christmas is undoubtedly the splendid fare of the season and of course, the opportunity to indulge in celebratory meals with family and friends. Selecting a special venue for a festive feast with loved ones makes the occasion all the more memorable - so why not choose a castle and dine like kings? This month Stirling Castle is once again offering a choice of great Christmas dining options for lovers of good food and great surroundings.

Christmas Lunch at Stirling Castle - available in the Unicorn Café from the 11th to 23rd December – also offers a very tempting festive dining option as well as superb value, with a three-course meal made from the finest seasonal ingredients, followed by tea or coffee and homemade fudge, all for £29. The price includes free entry to the castle to enable diners to make the most of their visit to this fascinating attraction by exploring its history and doing some last minute Christmas shopping in the castle’s gift shops.

The delicious menu features starters such as smoked salmon terrine with cucumber and red pepper, dressed with lemon and dill drizzle, and warm brie and camembert filo parcels with cranberry and port coulis. Main courses – in addition to hand-carved roast turkey with sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts and cranberry sauce – include fillet of cod set of a bed of spiced lentils and overn roasted aubergine stuffed with spiced cous cous. The selection of desserts includes steamed Christmas pudding with brandy butter and crème anglaise, and a spiced appled frangipane tart with caramel sauce. There is a vegetarian option for all courses.

So celebrate Christmas in style at one of Scotland’s best-loved and iconic castles.

FIND OUT MORE about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Sandi Thom signs up for Stirling’s Hogmanay

Scottish musician, Sandi Thom was today announced as the final piece of the jigsaw for Stirling’s Hogmanay party at the Castle 2009. Sandi will join fellow performers the MacDonald Brothers and Gary Mullen to bring in the bells at a distinctively Scottish New Year party to round of the Year of Homecoming.

Stirling Council in association with Central FM and Aurora Hotels are hosting the celebrations at the esplanade at Stirling Castle with brisk ticket sales already that allowed people to take advantage of the credit crunching £10 ticket offer throughout September.

Sandi famously came to the world’s attention in that same tiny basement with her ‘21 nights in Tooting’ tour – three weeks of concerts that she sent out to audiences worldwide via the Internet. And when ‘I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker’ was released it went straight to number one in the UK and went on to be a hit worldwide. In Australia alone, it topped the charts for a record-breaking 12 weeks.

Freddie Mercury performer, Gary Mullen has never played a Hogmanay gig in Scotland before, saying that already the anticipation is building and feels privileged to be asked to perform on stage in Stirling, especially on New Years Eve. The MacDonald Brothers said that they love performing at Hogmanay, but this year there will be an added bonus of playing with the backdrop of Stirling Castle, adding that this will go down as one of their highlights of their young career.

Stirling Provost Fergus Wood, said: "Getting Sandi Thom on the bill is a real coup adding to fantastic line up that will no doubt be a memorable hogmanay at Stirling Castle, providing fun for all the family and at prices that most can afford. The bells will be brought in, in a traditional style with massed pipes and drums crossing the castle drawbridge and a fantastic firework display to illuminate the historic Top of the Town."

Tickets for Stirling's Hogmanay are on sale from the box offices at the Albert Halls, Tolbooth, Macrobert and SECC online.

From the Stirling Council website.

Country’s Only City Centre Hatchery Back In Use

More than 50,000 brown trout are being reared in Stirling again - in what is thought to be the country’s only city centre hatchery. Stirling Council has reopened the Wellgreen hatchery, which was last used in 2001, in partnership with The River Forth Anglers Association and Howietoun Fishery. There are currently over 50,000 brown trout eggs being reared and once hatched they will be released into the Rivers Forth and Teith.

The hatchery is served by pure clear spring water from the historical St. Ninian’s Well and was first used for rearing brown trout in 1970 by Stirling resident Mr. Allister McDonald. Before that, the building was used as a washhouse built by Stirling Burgh for local people to use in 1737.

Mr Macdonald used to tend the trout eggs and once hatched he visited the hatchery twice a day. He looked after the young trout until they reached the fry stage and then released the young fry into the Forth and Teith.

Clackmannanshire and Stirling Environment Trust, Stirling Council and the River Forth Anglers Association provided funding for the project costing £1,800. Howietoun Hatchery assisted by supplying the eggs and offering training and expertise.

St Ninian was one of the Celtic saints who brought Christianity to Scotland. The Wellgreen was common ground, often used for washing and bleaching and at the centre of it is St Ninian’s Well. In the 19th century, St Ninian’s Brewery used the water, but before the Scottish Reformation, the well was used for its healing properties. In the 17th century, the Kirk Session of Stirling forbade the practice of resorting to wells for spiritual and curative purposes on the grounds that it was superstitious.

From the Stirling Council website.

Free entry to Stirling Historic Scotland attractions for 28th and 29th November

Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Michael Russell, has announced a weekend of free entry to 47 Historic Scotland sites in the Central and West Scotland, and throughout the country on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th November. The free entry announcement is a key part of both the St Andrew’s Weekend celebrations and the finale of Homecoming Scotland 2009.

Michael Russell said: “This is a brilliant opportunity to visit one of Historic Scotland’s superb heritage attractions. Opening these properties for free over the 28th and 29th of November is a wonderful way for us, as Scots, to mark our country’s national day and celebrate the end of a highly successful year of Homecoming.

The Historic Scotland St Andrew’s Free Weekend (28th and 29th November) offer will cover a selection of leading historic attractions across the length and breadth of Scotland. The Central and West region attractions taking part in the St Andrew’s free weekend are Castle Campbell, Doune Castle, Dunblane Cathedral, Dunstaffnage Castle, Iona Abbey, and Stirling Castle. The challenge will be – how many can you fit into two days? In addition to these, visitors can take advantage of the offer at a superb selection of historic attractions across the length and breadth of Scotland.

Stirling Castle will also have extra family fun activities going on over the weekend. The Broons cartoon fun will feature on Sunday, 29th November where people will be able to meet illustrator Peter Davidson and writer David Donaldson. There will also be entertainment by The Diggers Band, which features in the strip – and the chance for some audience participation on the tambourine. And, back by popular demand, the Stirling Castle Jester will be there over the whole weekend, meeting and greeting visitors, entertaining, spinning riddles and even eating some fire.

Edinburgh Castle will be opening for free on St Andrew’s Day itself (30th), to give an opportunity to view our nation’s Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny – two significant symbols of Scotland.

FIND OUT MORE about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Metal detector finds £1m treasure in Stirling

An amateur treasure hunter has unearthed ancient gold jewellery in a field near Stirling. Four neckbands or "torcs" made of twisted gold were discovered using a metal detector and are believed to date from between the 1st and 3rd Century BC.

Under Scots law, the Crown can claim any archaeological objects found in Scotland but the finder may receive a reward equal to the value of the jewellery which could be valued at more than £1m. The exact location of the find has not been released so don't get those metal detectors out just yet.

Hallowe'en at Stirling Old Town Jail

It's going to be a scream!

How do you start the perfect Hallowe'en evening? Stop off at The Old Town Jail for a special Hallowe'en Tour of Stirling's Victorian prison! Ghosts galore - terrifying tales - and fun for everyone!

Tours at 5.30pm and 6.30pm on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st October 2009.

Tours last (approximately) 45 to 50 minutes, and you can book your places now by calling (01786) 450050.

What's On around Stirling


Outside the great gates of Doune Castle once stood a tree where wrongdoers were reputed to have been hanged. Historic Scotland has been anonymously gifted a copy of a Victorian guidebook with covers made from carefully cut, polished and varnished pieces of oak. Inscribed on the front are the words ‘Made from the Wood of the Old Gallows Tree at Doune Castle’. The text explains that the tree had finally blown down in November 1878.

Such was its notorious appeal that parts were cut up and used for furniture – several pieces are still at the castle for visitors to see – while others became guidebook covers, adding a whiff of sulphur for the owners.

The book, simply entitled Guide to Doune Castle was the work of the custodian, James Dunbar formerly of the 79th Cameron Highlanders. This particular copy is an 1894 sixth edition which, the author explains, was printed because previous ones had been so popular, with total sales of around 9,000. Indeed, he adds that letters of praise had been received from a variety of people including former Crimean War officers and even Queen Victoria.

Towards the end of the book a series of newspaper reviews of previous editions have been included from venerable titles including The Glasgow Herald, The Stirling Observer, The Perthshire Advertiser and The Galloway Gazette. Hugh Morrison, Historic Scotland collections registrar, said: “This is an unusual, if macabre, souvenir guidebook to Doune Castle. The Old Gallows Tree, from which the book covers and furniture at Doune Castle were made, clearly captured the Victorian imagination. We know little about the history and folklore of this former tree, or how many books with wooden covers survive, so would be very interested to hear from anyone who has any information about this.”

Historic Scotland has recently introduced a new audio guide, narrated by former Python Terry Jones, which tries to give visitors a real sense of what medieval life at the castle would have been like.

FIND OUT MORE about Doune Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Tiny antique soldiers hidden beneath the floorboards in Stirling's Royal Palace

A squad of five hand-carved soldiers and fragments of two tiny wooden horses have been discovered during the major refurbishment work in the royal palace at Stirling Castle, due to re-open in 2011.

Just 4.5cm high, the soldiers are dressed in red jackets and busbies, similar to those worn by some units of the British Army in the 19th century. A plasterer discovered them concealed beneath the floor on the first floor of the palace in an area which was used by the army for several centuries. Initial examination suggests that they could date from around 1830 to 1850, possibly later, and may have been children’s toys, or used by adults for gaming.

Richard Welander, head of the Historic Scotland collections unit, said: “These unusual little hand-made figures are full of charm and appear to take us back to the era when Stirling Castle was an important military base.”

“Even though the carving is quite crude, the painting appears to be a good representation of the uniforms worn by Guards regiments of the mid-19th century. It was a real surprise to come across them, as they were concealed beneath floorboards which were being removed as part of our £12 million project to refurbish the castle’s royal palace.”

“While it’s difficult to say how they got there, they may have been deliberately hidden from view by their owner or maker – someone who, for reasons we will probably never know, was unable to come back and collect them. It is yet another fascinating discovery as we take the palace to a spectacular re-opening in April 2011, as part of the overall Stirling Castle experience.”

A small spherical bottle stopper, shaped like a marble, and a pair of scissors were found close to the figurines. There is a long tradition of model soldiers being used as toys or for gaming, but they are relatively unusual discoveries in an archaeological context.

Pictures are available showing Richard Welander with the soldiers and also of a costumed performer in 19th-century army uniform holding the figurines.

FIND OUT MORE about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Are you interested in your child’s development?

University of Stirling Baby and Toddler Lab are looking for children between 0 and 3 years of age to participate in studies in child development. Their research looks at parent-child interactions, joking, pretend play, word-learning, and children’s understanding of others’ minds.

Studies will take place in the psychology department at the University of Stirling, and typically involve a one-time visit lasting about 30-45 minutes which involves playing a game, watching a video, or reading a book.

As a "thank you", you will receive a voucher for the MacRobert, which will entitle you to either 1 hour at the Treehouse creche, a cinema ticket, or £4 to be used at the cafe (or for event tickets).

If you’d like to register, or get more information, please Contact:
Elena Hoicka
01786 467641


Over the ten years since devolution, the Scottish Parliament has grown, evolved and matured to the extent that it is now an established part of both Scotland’s political and social landscape. At the forefront of political life is Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Deputy First Minister of Scotland, and she is to give her unique insight when she delivers a keynote speech at the University of Stirling on 1 October.

In giving her opinions of what the Scottish Parliament has achieved in the first decade of devolution, Ms Sturgeon will argue that the Parliament is fundamentally constrained by the limits of the devolution settlement. Widely considered a success for the Scottish people, with ground-breaking legislation such as the smoking ban, land reform and free personal care for the elderly, the Parliament aims to be open and accessible, an exemplar of what a modern Parliament should seek to be. However, in the Andrew John Williamson Memorial Lecture for 2009, she will say that Scotland cannot, and will not, fulfil her potential until the powers of the Parliament are complete and Scotland is once again an independent country.

The Andrew John Williamson Memorial Lecture was established in 1983 in memory of Andrew John Williamson, a Politics student at the University of Stirling who died in a tragic accident in 1981. The Memorial Lecture was created to bring a high profile speaker to the University each year to speak on a theme of contemporary political interest. The Williamson Trust also funds travel bursaries which are designed to enable students to travel in order to pursue an interest with a political theme.

Nicola Sturgeon’s lecture on Devolution 10 Years on – Continuity and Change will be delivered on Thursday 1 October at 6.30pm in the Logie Lecture Theatre, on the University of Stirling Campus. The talk is open to all and is free, and places can be reserved in advance by calling 01786 467055 or by email to externalrelations@stir.ac.uk

September at the Tolbooth in Stirling
Radio Ballads - 19 September

SAT 19 SEP, 7.30PM £12/£10

Peter Cox’s book, Set Into Song – Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker, Peggy Seeger and the Radio Ballads, tells the story of the remarkable collaboration that produced the groundbreaking Radio Ballads series.

Peter interviewed artists that form a rollcall of the early folk revival, such as Ian and Lorna Campbell, Bob Davenport, Ray Fisher, John Faulkner, Stan Kelly, Louis Killen, Gordon McCulloch, Jimmie McGregor, Colin Ross, Elizabeth Stewart and Dave Swarbrick – as well as Peggy Seeger herself.

The Radio Ballads were ground-breaking as they actually broadcast the voices of working people, something unheard of until then, to tell their own stories.

This special event will tell the story of their making, illustrated with extracts from the programmes and songs performed by Alison McMorland and Geordie McIntyre, followed by an open discussion on the politics of the folk revival.

T Model Ford - 23 September

WED 23 SEP, 8PM £12/£10

With his downright bad and dangerous past behind him T-Model Ford, who only took up the guitar in his late fifties, is the only truly authentic Mississippi Blues man in action today.

Drawing on his life, he melds traditional Chicago blues and juke joint blues with the rawness of Delta blues and the rebellious attitude of 1970s-style punk.

Born James Lewis Carter Ford in Forrest, a small community in Scott County, Mississippi, T-Model thinks he’s eighty-eight but isn’t really sure. He was ploughing a field behind a mule on his family’s farm by age eleven, and in his early teens he secured a job at a local sawmill.

Between that and working in a log camp T-Model was sentenced to ten years on a chain-gang for murder but was released after serving just two. He says, grinning, “I could really stomp some ass back then, stomp it good. I was a-sure-enough dangerous man.”

Jenna Reid Band - 26 September

SAT 26 SEP, 8PM £12/£10

A welcome back to award winning Shetland Fiddler Jenna Reid, returning to Tolbooth with her four-piece band. A protege of the greatest names in Shetland fiddling, Dr Tom Anderson MBE and Willie Hunter, Jenna has appeared all over the world with Filska, Deaf Shepherd and Dochas. Nominated for Best Instrumentalist at the 2007 Scots Trad Music Awards, Jenna and her band are some of the finest young traditional players in Scotland today. An evening not to be missed.

What's On at the Tolbooth in Stirling

Alasdair Gray Play Book Launch at the Smith

Waiting to Mount Guard - William Kennedy - at the Stirling Smith 11.00am Thursday 17 September 2009

Alasdair Gray will read from his new book when it launches in the Stirling Smith next week. The book is a major work containing his plays from 1944-2009 and includes an illustrated story board for his novel Lanark. As with all of Gray’s books, it is a stylish production with rich illustrations and meticulous typography - a collector’s item. Luath Press, £25.00

Alasdair Gray is a Friend of the Smith and on the day of the launch, the £4 ticket (which includes refreshments) will be deductible from the book price.

What's On at the Smith in Stirling

Art is not a mirror, it’s a hammer!

Until 5 September at the Changing Room.

The result of a collaborative project, this exhibition will feature film and archival material selected by artists Katy Dove, Luke Fowler and University of Stirling’s archivist Karl Magee. The Changing Room is working with the University of Stirling to investigate their Grierson and McLaren archive and develop new work in web, music and film.

The exhibition explores the working relationship between Stirling born Norman McLaren and John Grierson, as a starting point for the contemporary artists’ new works. Art is not a mirror, it’s a hammer! is not a straight biographical / educational exhibition, instead the selected artefacts have an intrinsic interest and when viewed as a whole, provide a fuller picture of Grierson’s and McLaren’s life and career.

There will be a Grierson and McLaren film screening on 4 September at the Tolbooth. Featuring…Hitchcock on Grierson Alfred Hitchcock’s tribute to the famous documentary maker John Grierson televised in 1965. Courtesy of STV This event is free but please call Tolbooth Box Office on 01786 27 4000 to book tickets, as space is limited.

Read more at What's On at the Changing Room in Stirling

The bargain of the century for Stirling Smith
Waiting to Mount Guard - William Kennedy - at the Stirling Smith

A Tale of Two Paintings

In April 2007, the Stirling Smith was offered the opportunity to purchase the iconic painting “Stirling Station” (oil on canvas, 1888) by “Glasgow Boy” William Kennedy (1859-1918). Although the price of £280,000 was high, Stirling Council was willing to commit a significant sum from the Common Good Fund. An independent fine art expert valued the picture at a quarter of the asking price, additional public funding could not be raised and the work was bought by a wealthier gallery.

Earlier this year, an opportunity arose to buy another iconic Stirling work by the same artist. The painting was in Christie’s South Kensington auction, where the subject, location and date (a group of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, outside the Chapel Royal in Stirling Castle, 1890) had not been identified by the auction house. The work was secured by a sharp-eyed Smith patron for a total price of £2,200.00. The work was then purchased by the Stirling Smith with a 50% grant from the National Fund for Acquisitions, administered with Government Funding by the National Museums of Scotland, and 50% from the Common Good Fund for Stirling.

“Waiting to Mount Guard” was painted in 1890 and exhibited in the Royal Glasgow Institute Exhibition. Additional research revealed that the painting was a favourite work of Kennedy, who mentioned it in his Glasgow Who’s Who entry of 1909, and chose it for further exhibitions at Munich Secession and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

The painting is in its original frame and has probably been in the ownership of one household for most of its existence, as it has not been cleaned or re-lined. Commenting on the acquisition of “Waiting to Mount Guard”, Councillor Colin O’Brien, Chair of the Stirling Smith Trustees said: “This is undoubtedly the bargain of the century for Stirling. We are delighted that such an important work has been secured for the city in a cost-effective way.”

What's On at the Smith in Stirling


Family funday and community charity music festival
Beating The Recession Blues and Bringing Some Festival Cheer To Stirling!

Stirling Rugby Club, Causwayhead Road, Stirling

Organisers are calling on the people of Stirling to bring back community spirit during the recession and come along to The Scribbler’s Picnic to enjoy Stirling’s only outdoor music funday and community charity festival.

“We have handed over more than £40,000 to our five nominated charities since the event started - which we are all absolutely delighted about. The people of Stirling should be really proud as that money has benefitted thousands of families across the area. We would love the community to come along and show their support and help us smash the £50,000 target this year."

This year’s entertainment includes an array of music for all the family on the Fubar sponsored Main Stage, the Acoustic Café, Rock Tent, Tommy Quinn Memorial Folk Stage and organisers have teamed up with the Tolbooth, which is hosting its own stage.

There will also be a licensed bar, children shows, a bucking bronco and other entertainment. Although there is alicensed bar, members of the public should note they cannot bring their own alcohol to the event.

In an extra special event for this year’s Picnic, the music will continue long into the evening in an addition event inside the Rugby Club – the Tommy Quinn Memorial Concert. Popular folk singer Eric Bogle will perform at the event as part of his farewell tour before he retires from international touring. Eric will be joined by close friend John Munro.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the event, community groups or charitable organisations who would like a stall or would like to get involved with the event should contact Ted Christopher on 01786 471323.

What's On around Stirling


The MacRobert centre in Stirling will come alive with activity on Saturday 22nd August 2009 with the launch of the LazyTown Sports Clubs in Stirling with a special guest appearance from Sportacus! These are the first LazyTown Sports Clubs to be launched in Scotland and will run classes in Stirling, Dunblane, Falkirk and Clackmananshire starting in September 2009.

There will be the opportunity to move along with Sportacus and the FitKid team who will deliver a snap shot of a LazyTown Sports Club classes. Tickets are free for this event in the MacRobert centre located on Stirling University campus.

Mandy Beer the manager of FitKid Stirling says “I wanted to find a way to make fitness fun for kids as well as them learning about making healthy choices. From talking to parents I realised we all have concerns about kids not doing enough and finding an affordable way for kids to take part in activities – I am delighted to be able to launch these classes in Scotland! I love fitness and hope to give some of my energy and enthusiasm to inspire kids to enjoy getting active as well – LazyTown is an amazing show and im very proud to be a part of it!”

What's On around Stirling


A park and ride scheme is being introduced to provide visitors with an easy and comfortable way to reach Stirling Castle. The project is a joint initiative between Historic Scotland and Stirling Council, with the buses provided by Hunters Executive Coaches.

The service will run, Monday to Saturday, from 1st to 31st of August from the Castleview Park and Ride, off Junction 10 of the M9. Gillian MacDonald, Historic Scotland Stirling Castle manager, said: “This is great news for visitors as it means they have a quick, easy and regular bus service to and from the castle. At the peak of the season the castle can be very busy and this will mean fewer delays and less time spent finding a parking space on the castle esplanade. I firmly believe that this joint project with the council will bring benefits all round, not least by reducing congestion at busy times. It will also mean that visitors from outwith the city don’t have to find their way through unfamiliar city streets.”

A 29-seater bus will run every 20 minutes from 9am to 6pm. Return tickets will cost £1 for adults and 50p for under 16s – national bus passes will also be accepted. The park and ride will be signposted from the motorway and main roads. The project is being run on a trial basis and may be operated again next year if it proves successful. Visitors will still be able to use the castle car park where the price per car is £2.

The Upbeat Beatles

The Upbeat Beatles

The nearest you're going to get to the real thing.
Read about the Upbeat Beatles >>

Relive the sounds and excitement of the 60's with this leading Beatles tribute band... Imagine it's 1963 and there’s a show at your local theatre...

It is 1963 and at this point in their career, The Beatles are rockin'. There isn't a band to touch them. After all the grueling one nighters in Liverpool and the long residences in Hamburg, the hard work is finally paying off and they blow the audience away with their sound - a fabulous cocktail of early Motown, Blues, Rock 'n' Roll and original material!

It is this sound that The Upbeat Beatles re-create. Raw powerhouse vocals, breathtaking harmonies and punchy tight musicianship - and in the world of Beatles tribute bands, there isn't a band to touch them!

Friday 31 July
The Albert Halls, Stirling
Tickets £12/£10
Box office: 01786 473544 or online at www.webstertheatre.co.uk




The Renaissance pomp and pageantry of the Royal Court of Mary Queen of Scots returns to Stirling Castle next month when the queen and her entourage come home to Scotland for ‘A Royal Summer Holiday’.

Become a courtier at this family event from Saturday 1st to Monday 3rd August and join the 16th-century VIP visitors as they have some fun. Try your hand at skittles, quoits, and firing a crossbow, or test your skills for hunting.

Costumed players throughout the castle will be leading special children’s tours of the castle and sharing all of the latest gossip about the lords and ladies in attendance. And kids will also have an opportunity to join the royal guard to help protect the royal party as they take a break from governing the country.

Historic Scotland Interpretation Manager Sheena Garden said: “Stirling Castle is not only one of Scotland’s grandest and most imposing castles, it was also a real favourite with Scotland’s kings and queens. And their investment in it demonstrated just how much they loved to use it, as well as their desire to ensure it both impressed all who visited it, and represented a statement of their power and wealth. James IV created the Great Hall, the largest medieval banqueting hall ever built in Scotland, and James V’s Royal Palace, with its lavishly decorated Renaissance façades, was a masterpiece of the period.

“Highlighting the rich festivities of Stirling Castle’s royal court, ‘A Royal Summer Holiday’ not only offers visitors a chance to appreciate why this iconic Scottish stronghold was so favoured by royalty but also to learn about what they did for fun in the 16th century.

“Our programme of royal entertainment and activities runs from 11am to 4pm on all three days and means that ‘A Royal Summer Holiday’ promises a great family day out. It’s an ideal treat for the school holidays and as everything is included in the normal admission price to the castle (adult £9, concession £7, and child £4.50) it’s excellent value too.”

Exclusive Burns Tours of Stirling Castle

Three exclusive evening tours have been arranged to celebrate Robert Burns’ links with Stirling and its castle. They take place in August, around the anniversary of the poet’s visit to the castle in 1787 after which he wrote the “Stirling lines” lamenting the passing of the Royal Stewarts and deploring the castle’s state of disrepair.

More recently Historic Scotland has carried out far-reaching refurbishments and is currently undertaking a £12 million project to return the royal palace to how it may have looked when first built in the mid-16th century. However when Burns was there, the castle was a military garrison and some areas were in a run-down condition.

Ross Blevins, the castle’s head steward who has prepared and will lead the tours, said: “Townsfolk took the poet to their heart and for years after this first visit, the 27th of August was celebrated in Stirling with Burns’ suppers. The three tours will be a chance to look back on his life, while enjoying the rare opportunity to savour the atmosphere of the castle in the evening, after the gates are normally closed. A three-course meal in the castle’s Unicorn Café featuring haggis, neeps and tatties followed by shortbread, tea and coffee will round off each tour.”

The tours take place on the Fridays of 7th, 14th and 21st August and start at 6.30pm sharp from the Guardroom Square.

FIND OUT MORE about the Burns Tours of Stirling Castle at
What's On around Stirling

Men of Bannockburn

The men of Bannockburn have faces at long last - as well being depicted with their arms and armour and their heraldic sur coats - thanks to the study, research and dedication of artist Marco Trecalli of the Italian Ministry of Defence.

Elspeth King, Director of the Stirling Smith said:
“This is the first full-scale artistic project, under scored with a complete understanding of the arms and armour of the period, to put flesh and blood on the bare bones of our knowledge of the protagonists on both sides at Bannockburn."

Marco Trecalli’s work has advanced the study and understanding of the Battle of Bannockburn well beyond the presently available archive - based research.”

FIND OUT MORE about the Men of Bannockburn Exhibition at
What's On at the Smith in Stirling

The Moscow State Circus in Stirling
The Moscow State Circus in stirling

Leganda - ‘Once in a life time’

Bringing with it a huge cast of Russia's greatest and most flexible circus performers, The Moscow State Circus returns to Stirling with a once in a life time opportunity to see the award winning show LEGENDA.

Many of the critically acclaimed acts are pushing the boundary of human physical ingenuity to its limits. However this time the greatest show on earth has had a face lift and been revolutionised. The worlds most famous circus collides with the legendary Russian folklore figure Rasputin to create a sensational show that combines contemporary and classical circus at it’s very best.

King's Park Stirling

Saturday 4th July- 7.45pm only
Sunday 5th and Monday 6th July - 2pm and 5pm

The Moscow State Circus at Stirling Kings Park


Archaeologists believe that bones discovered at Stirling Castle may have belonged to a young knight killed in battle or during a siege. Even though the warrior was probably only in his mid-20s he appears to have suffered several serious wounds in earlier fights. Indeed, he may have been living for some time with a large arrowhead in his chest.

Bone re-growth around a dent in the front of the skull suggest he had recovered from a severe blow, possibly from an axe. The fatal wound, however, occurred when something, possibly a sword, sliced through his nose and jaw. The unknown warrior, who lived in or around the early 1400s, was laid to rest under the floor of a chapel near the castle’s royal apartments.

Peter Yeoman, Historic Scotland head of cultural resources, said: “We know little about this burial area but the evidence suggests it was sometimes used during extreme circumstances, for example to bury the dead during a siege. However, by using modern analysis techniques we have started to discover quite remarkable information about this man."

"It appears he died in his mid-20s after a short and violent life. His legs were formed in a way that was consistent with spending a lot of time on horseback, and the upper body points to someone who was well-muscled, perhaps due to extensive training with medieval weapons. This evidence, and the fact that he was buried at the heart of a royal castle, suggests he was a person of prestige, possibly a knight.”

The skeleton was excavated in 1997 when archaeologists were working in an area of the castle which turned out to be the site of a lost medieval royal chapel. Some research was carried out at the time, and though the information gleaned was limited it was recognised that the remains were of interest and merited future study. Advances in technology and analytical techniques led to a recent re-examination of the skeleton for which the results are now available. This has included minute recording by laser scanning carried out by Colin Muir of Historic Scotland’s Technical Conservation Group.

In addition to the three serious wounds, it seems the man had also lost a number of teeth – perhaps from a blow, or a fall from a horse. A large, tanged arrowhead was found in skeleton and appears to have struck through the back or under the arm. Crystalised matter attached to the arrowhead may have been from flies or other insect larvae and could have been from clothing the arrow forced into the wound.

Gordon Ewart, of Kirkdale Archaeology, who carried out the excavation and some of the research for Historic Scotland, said: “This is a remarkable and important set of discoveries. There were a series of wounds, including a dent in the skull from a sword or axe, where bone had re-grown, showing that he had recovered. At first we had thought the arrow wound had been fatal but it now seems he had survived it and may have had his chest bound up.”

Little is known about who the man was or where he came from – he need not even have been a Scot. Further study is planned on tooth enamel and bone samples which may shed light on his origins. The man appeared to have been buried in the same grave as a small boy of one to three years old. Archaeologists cannot be certain that the two were linked but radiocarbon dating suggests both date from the early 15th century, and there was no evidence of one grave having been cut through the other. They were part of a group of 12 skeletons, some highly fragmentary, which were discovered. Among them was a female, probably buried some time in the 13th century, who had two neat, square holes through her skull which were consistent with blows from a war hammer.

The excavation which revealed the skeletons was part of the long-term Historic Scotland project to discover more about the castle’s past and to inform its work to further enhance its appeal as a world-class visitor attraction. A central part of this work is the £12 million Stirling Castle Palace Project, which aims to return the castle’s royal palace to how it may have appeared in the mid-16th century. The palace is currently closed to the public and is due to reopen in 2011.

FIND OUT MORE about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Stirling Faces at the Smith
Stirling Smith - Stirling Faces Exhibition

Some of Stirling’s most famous faces, from tennis star Judy Murray (mother of Andy & Jamie) to Herald Poetry Editor Lesley Duncan, have been captured in a project to produce contemporary portraits, inspired by the Stirling Heads of the 1540s. The works were created during last year’s Big Draw season at the Stirling Smith.

Artists Nicola Carberry, Lys Hansen, Alasdair Gray, Roy Petrie, Peter Russell and Greer Ralston led the sessions. Some of the works have been added to the Smith’s historic collection of portraits.

FIND OUT MORE about Stirling Faces at
What's On at the Smith in Stirling

play your part in the future of Stirling Albion

This is the chance of a lifetime for real football fans to own and help run a real football club. Stirling Albion FC is a professional football team with a fantastic heritage. It has been for sale for several years with no serious bidders and they want your help to secure its future. Back Stirling Albion by signing up to the campaign to help the community buy the club and secure its long term future.

This is the first time that fans, no matter who you support or where you are in the world, will have the chance to own a football league club. The long-established SAFC Supporters Trust not only want to save the club- but to restructure it in a way that means Stirling Albion will not just survive - but thrive in the future, under complete community ownership.

For just £40 you can play your part in the future of Stirling Albion. For this small investment you will receive an exclusive range of benefits as well as being able to vote on key decisions from deciding who should be our president to choosing what kits we use.

FIND OUT MORE at www.buystirlingalbion.org.uk/


A hand-carved replica set of the Stirling Heads – world-famous masterpieces of Scottish Renaissance art – is about to be unveiled.

The unveiling, by Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Michael Russell MSP, marks the completion of five years’ work for expert wood carver John Donaldson. The 41 oak medallions, each a metre wide, are copies of 16th-century originals and feature vivid depictions of a variety of characters including Medieval kings and queens, Roman emperors and mythological heroes.

They were commissioned by Historic Scotland as a key part of its £12 million project to return the royal palace at Stirling Castle to how it may have looked in its Renaissance heyday. Thirty-seven of the replicas will decorate the ceiling of one of the most important apartments in the palace, the King’s Inner Hall.

MSP Mike Russell said: “The Stirling Heads are a remarkable part of our national heritage, sometimes referred to as Scotland’s other crown jewels. John’s work in creating the replica set has been a tremendous achievement, demanding the very highest standards of artistry and craftsmanship."

“The completion of the new heads represents an important milestone in the wider project to return one of Scotland’s finest royal palaces to how it may have looked when it was a childhood residence of Mary, Queen of Scots. The palace project will further enhance Stirling Castle’s international reputation as one of Scotland’s must-see attractions."

The unveiling will see a dozen of the replica Stirling Heads put on show in the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle on Tuesday, 2 June.

Mr Donaldson, from Livingston, said: “The Stirling Heads come from an exciting period when James V was determined to show the world that Scotland was a culturally important country, playing its part in the Renaissance. It has been a wonderful experience to recreate the work of the Renaissance craftsmen who carved the originals 450 years ago."

“While I have been working I have often thought about who they might have been and what their lives were like. It’s quite a privilege that my versions of the heads will become part of the castle’s story, and to think that in centuries to come people might look at the ceiling of the King’s Inner Hall and wonder who carved them.”

The heads will now be painted in bright colours, as the originals would have been. Chris Watkins, Historic Scotland head of major projects, said: “The carving of the new heads has been an astonishing accomplishment. Each one is a work of art, as well as great craftsmanship, in its own right. They will be among the wonderful attractions of the palace when it opens to the public in 2011."

“What makes them so special is that John used the same types of materials, tools and techniques as the original craftsmen. This approach helps keep traditional skills alive and gives visitors the most authentic insight possible into the grandeur of the Scottish Court in the mid-16th century.”

FIND OUT MORE about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling


Stirling Castle’s stunning Great Hall is the setting on Thursday 4th June for a very special evening of classic entertainment, when the Scottish Chamber Orchestra performs the first concert in its 2009 Highland Tour.

Internationally acclaimed as one of the world's leading chamber orchestras, the SCO will be directed by Austrian virtuoso, violist Alexander Janiczek, in a spell-binding evening of music from Central Europe.

The programme features Dvorák’s lively Czech Suite - which conveys the warmth and emotion the composer felt for his homeland - and two landmark works by Mozart - Symphony No 29, written when Mozart was just seventeen - and the Sinfonia Concertante, for which Janiczek shares the honours with the SCO’s outstanding principal viola, Jane Atkins.

Nick Finnigan, Events Manager for Historic Scotland, which manages Stirling Castle, says: "We are delighted to be welcoming the SCO - undoubtedly one of the world’s best and most respected chamber orchestras - back to Stirling Castle’s Great Hall, one of our most prestigious venues. The combination of the marvellous programme, outstanding virtuoso musicians and stunning setting all add up to what promises to be an exceptional evening of entertainment.”

Tickets for the event, which starts at 8pm, are available from the Albert Halls Box Office, Albert Place, Dumbarton Road, Stirling FK8 2QL (telephone +44 (0)1786 473544). The prices are: adult £16.00, concessions and Historic Scotland members £13.00, people with a disability (and a companion) £8.00, children, students and the unwaged £5.00

FIND OUT MORE about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Stirling Old Town Jail to re-open

Stirling District Tourism Limited have announced that Stirling Old Town Jail, the unique visitor attraction which provides visitors to the city with the opportunity to experience life in an authentic Victorian prison, will be re-opening to visitors from Monday 8 June 2009. Since closing in November last year, at the end of the 2008 visitor season, the company has taken advantage of the opportunity to carry out essential maintenance and repair work to the distinctive building, the gates of which opened to receive the first convicts over 160 years ago. During that time Stirling District Tourism also engaged in discussions with Stirling Council, owners of the building, as a result of which the financial support was provided which has enabled The Old Town Jail to be re-opened for the 2009 season. Additionally the company is participating in ongoing discussions to review the important role that the Old Town Jail plays in the Top of the Town.

Confirmation of the re-opening has been welcomed by Councillor Scott Farmer, who emphasised the important role which centres such as The Old Town Jail play in attracting visitors to the city, when he said that, “Stirling’s appeal to tourists lies in the fascinating history of the city, and the preservation of heritage buildings which have an amazing story to tell, such as The Old Town Jail, is vitally important if it is to maintain its appeal as a destination.

“Stirling Council welcomes the re-opening of The Old Town Jail, and is very pleased that the issues which make it possible for it to be operational for the main 2009 visitor season have been resolved.”

The Old Town Jail will remain open until November 1, 2009, with costumed actors providing live prison tours every day and enabling visitors to meet some of the characters who were a part of the story of crime and punishment in Stirling’s past, including the city’s notorious last hangman, Jock Rankin. The end of the 2009 season will be marked by special Halloween tours, which take place each evening on 30 and 31 October, providing visitors with the chance to discover a darker side to the city’s history, with stories about body-snatchers, witch trials, and even the ghost of the last man hanged in Stirling.

From the Stirling Council website.

Help is at hand for maps

Stirling Council Countryside Team is offering anyone interested a chance to get to grips with basic map reading. With summer here it’s time to get out and explore the countryside, although maps can be a great resource and perfect for helping you discover new paths they can at times be a bit daunting if you haven’t used them before.

Come and join Stirling Council Countryside Team and Active Stirling on Sunday 7 June between 1 and 4pm at the MacRobert Arts Centre on Stirling University campus to have a go.

This will be an informal drop-in event for beginners, just turn up and try your new skills at finding your way around the site. Maps will be provided and the event is free. Community Paths leaflets will also be available to take away for you to try using after the event.

Everyone is welcome; a responsible adult must accompany under 16s.

For more information, please telephone 01786 443482 during office hours. There is a regular bus service from Stirling to Stirling University.

From the Stirling Council website.

le Weekend 2009

stirling tolbooth le weekend 2009

Le Weekend is Scotland's longest running festival dedicated to experimental music and sound and has been hosted in Stirling since 1998.

This year, to bring the 12th panoply of sound that is Le Weekend to a head-spinning, thumping finale we have decided, with the unfortunate last minute withdrawal of Broadcast, to go outside the comfort zone and take the festival in an entirely different direction with Jazzsteppa and the Moody Boyz.

Dubstep has been baring the sonic wires on the club scene for a few years now but Jazzsteppa bring acoustic instruments into their take of the dark urbanity and technology driven sound. Joined by dubstep legend Tony Thorpe and his Moody Boyz DJ mixes and effects, this should be a fitting end and mark a new beginning for the festival.

Always looking to put together music that may not seem linked, Le Weekend challenges the comfortable ghettos where audience and musicians sometimes find themselves.

The continual surprise is how well most music sits together and the 12th Le Weekend features artists from across the world who demonstrate there are no limits to music.

Highlights include a festival exclusive from Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Drew Mulholland (The Mount Vernon Rifles) and the UK premiere of Eddie Marcon.

Other highlights include Keith Rowe, Hélène Breschand, Evangelista, Julian House/Ghost Box and Dimension X.

Le Weekend doesn’t limit itself to traditional spaces and this year includes performances in Stirling’s observatory, the Church of the Holy Rude and the communal ‘drying’ area of a block of flats.

Perhaps the most ambitious event, Brilliant Corners, will feature a simultaneous performance of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Blue Monk’ played by a virtual band throughout Stirling and across YouTube.

Event: Le Weekend Festival
Venue: Tolbooth, Stirling, Scotland
Dates: Fri 29 - Sun 31 May 2009
Tickets: £15/£10 Day Pass + £35/£25 Festival Pass
on sale now from www.leweekendfestival.com / 01786 27 4000

Find out more at What's On in Stirling

Trossachs Trundler Hits the road

The popular Trossachs Trundler bus service will shortly be back on the road for the 2009 summer season helping visitors and locals get around the Trossachs. The Trossachs Trundler summer bus service allows visitors to relax and explore the Trossachs without their cars. It links the gateway resorts of Callander and Aberfoyle and takes in some breathtaking scenery and popular attractions in the stunning Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park.

Funded by Stirling Council, the service operates every day except Wednesdays from Monday May 25th until October 11th 2009. The first run begins in Stirling, with the last tour of the day also finishing in the City.

The circular route with a flexible jump on jump off service gives access to a wide range of fantastic walks, bike trips and attractions. These include sailing’s of the refurbished steamer SS Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine, boat and fishing hire at Loch Venachar, Go Ape tree top adventure at the David Marshal Lodge in Aberfoyle, as well as a multitude of walks, bike routes and classic hill walks such as Ben A’an and Ben Venue.

Leaving from Callander, The Trundler route takes in Kilmahog, Loch Venachar, Brig o'Turk, Loch Katrine, David Marshall Lodge, Aberfoyle and Port of Menteith. Passengers can get on or off at any point along the route. The bus is fully wheelchair accessible can carry up to two bikes and has space for rucksacks.

The Trossachs Day Rover is fantastic value too; £5.10 adults and £2.10 for children, family tickets £12.30; two adults and up to four children. Tickets can be purchased at Stirling Bus Station or on the Trundler.

From the Stirling Council website.

Find out more at Things to do in Stirling

Causewayhead Road Bridge (Stevenson Bridge) Lane Closure

This summer the Causewayhead Road Bridge will be reduced to one-way northbound traffic only. The road will be closed to all southbound traffic accessing the bridge from the Causewayhead/Cornton direction. Stirling Council, Scottish Water and Scotland Gas Networks apologise for any inconvenience this lane closure may cause for residents, businesses and visitors to Stirling. This is not a full road closure and alternative route diversions will be in place.

The works begin on 28 June, and could last for up to 7 weeks.

The Causewayhead Road Bridge, which is an important road crossing of the River Forth, was designed by Robert Stevenson and built in 1831 and has lasted well past its 100 years life expectancy. It carries far greater traffic volumes than it was designed for and now needs urgent repairs carried out. If this repair work is not carried out it will continue to deteriorate and will no longer be able to function fully as a main road crossing into Stirling.

A one-way system is scheduled for the 2009 school holidays, will allow public utility companies, Scotland Gas Networks (SGN) and Scottish Water, to carry out essential repairs to their buried pipelines: The first stage to the major refurbishment of the bridge.

Mainly it will affect traffic coming into the city from Causewayhead and Cornton direction.

The planned programme of essential repair work has been co-ordinated by Stirling Council’s Roads engineers, with the assistance of Scotland Gas Networks and Scottish Water.

There is no ideal time to carry out these works, but research shows traffic is least affected during the summer school holiday break in July and August, when the amount of traffic using the bridge falls from an average of 16,500 vehicles a day to approximately 13,500 a day.

Talks have taken place with emergency services, which have prepared contingency plans. Any emergency vehicles responding to incidents will be able to access the bridge from both directions, as the traffic management of the bridge will be manned 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Stirling Council has informed bus operators of the planned programme of works, and revised bus timetables for this period will be available soon.

Pedestrians can continue to use the Old Stirling Bridge as normal. Cyclists can also dismount and walk with their bikes across this bridge.

From the Stirling Council website.

Find out more at Things to do in Stirling



For centuries people believed that it was possible to turn ordinary metals into gold.

In the 16th century, the King of Scotland employed his own alchemist specifically to complete this task.

Join us for a day of events and activities at the royal court and see John Damian, the King’s Alchemist, demonstrating his skills. Will he find the formula which will make James the Golden King? And what does everyone else at court think of these experiments?

BBC Scotland will also be at the Castle, giving visitors the opportunity to become a newsreader from the past or star in a historical radio drama. In addition, the ancient immortal Scottish warlord Raven will be challenging youngsters to compete in some of the games from the children's TV series.

Admission to the event is included in the admission price to Stirling Castle.

Find out more at What's On in Stirling


Terry Jones, who co-directed comedy classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, is the voice of the new audio guide introduced this week.

Much of the movie was filmed at Doune and it has been a place of pilgrimage for fans ever since, with Historic Scotland having hosted a series of Python-themed events there in the past.

Mr Jones, who has presented a number of documentaries on subjects including Roman and Medieval life, said he was delighted to be part of the project.

“I have very fond memories of Doune Castle, it’s a fascinating place and the setting is absolutely spectacular. “It’s lovely to be involved with the castle again and to have the chance to introduce visitors to its history. The audio guide is designed to give people a real sense of the castle’s social history – what it was actually like to live there in the Middle Ages,” he said.

The audio guide also includes optional Monty Python clips for fans to enjoy – including the one printed below.

Jennifer Webster, HS interpretation officer, said: “We were really delighted when Terry Jones agreed to take part.

“His links to the castle through Monty Python and the Holy Grail and all the work he has done to popularise history on TV made him absolutely ideal.

“The guide brings out the Medieval social and architectural history of Doune Castle.

“It looks at the people who were behind its construction, and what life would have been like there.

“We are really pleased with the results and hope that visitors will enjoy it for many years to come.”

The audio guide is included in the standard ticket price for the castle.

Find out more about Doune Castle at sightseeing in Stirling

New Wallace Monument visitor centre

Work to upgrade visitor facilities and enhance the visitor experience at the Wallace Monument has been completed. A new visitor centre, with restaurant and ticket office, has been created at the Wallace Monument, near Stirling and a special panoramic viewing area to see the Abbey Craig and the monument itself has also been built. The car park layout has been redesigned to allow adequate parking forvisitors during the main tourist season.

The work has been carried out at the base of the Abbey Craig, the main point of arrival for visitors to the monument and includes the construction of a new reception building, retail area and the new, 50 seat Legends Coffee house.

Archie Glendinning, chairman of Stirling District Tourism, said: "After five years of planning and preparation we're delighted to be able to introduce these new amenities and services for visitors."

He added: "The standard and quality of welcome which visitors receive when they arrive at The Abbey Craig is really important - it sets the standard for their entire visit, and that has to be an experience which they will enjoy and remember."

The work was funded by Stirling District Tourism and Scottish Enterprise, with additional support provided by Clackmannanshire and Stirling Environment Trust.

As part of the Forestry Commission Scotland's 'Woodlands In and Around Towns' initiative, a programme of improvements is being carried out to improve the network of paths and the woodland around the Abbey Craig, allowing access to the area surrounding the Wallace Monument.

Find out more about the Wallace Monument at sightseeing in Stirling

a Renaissance Easter at Stirling Castle

Spring back to the 16th Century for a Renaissance Easter at Stirling Castle!

This Easter, enjoy an afternoon of family fun and Renaissance revelry at one of Scotland's best-loved castles.

On Sunday 12th April and Monday 13th April, from noon to 4pm, visitors to Stirling Castle will be treated to a variety of 16th century-themed entertainment staged by a colourful ensemble cast. And with everything included in the normal admission price to the castle, it's an afternoon out offering great value.

There will be a jester delighting all ages with jolly japes and tomfoolery, a puppet performance, a comedy show featuring some infamous historical characters, a talk on falconry - a favourite Renaissance pastime - and an opportunity to meet some impressive birds of prey. There will also be a falconry display plus a chance for children to dress up in Renaissance costumes, learn about 16th century etiquette and have fun decorating Easter eggs with designs inspired by the period.

Find out more at What's On in Stirling

new play park in Stirling

Stirling's Kings Park public park has been transformed into a new state-of-the-art play area. Stirling Council Provost Fergus Wood will officially open the new park on Wednesday 18 March, with children from Kings Park and beyond now able to enjoy the new play area, just in time for the Easter holidays.

The play area in Stirling’s historic Kings Park, which had been closed since August 2008 for refurbishment works, has been brought into the 21st Century with the installation of new state-of-the-art features including the new play area which will boast a number of fun features including a tower/bridge/slide embankment unit, climbing wall, bicycle roundabout, aerial runway and landscape improvements to existing features.

Stirling Council’s Portfolio Holder with responsibility for Children’s Services, Councillor Graham Lambie said: "The redevelopment had been necessary due to the park’s wooden Town Art multi-play frames coming to the end of their play life after giving 20 years of enjoyment to many children and families visiting the park over the last two decades. Now another generation can enjoy this fantastic facility for the next 20 years."

The £200,000 project in Stirling’s historic Kings Park was financed by a funding package that included developer contributions from local contractors Ogilvies & AL King, Stirling Waterfront Ltd and grant funding sourced by The Friends of Kings Park.

The old play equipment was installed in 1988 and originated from an Exhibit by Stirling District Council for the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival.

From the Stirling Council website.

Adrian Sherwood Blends Burns at the Tolbooth

Embracing roots music from across the world, The Blend is awash with the energy and soul of Spain, Jamaica and Israel.

With a passionate commitment to developing the tradition, this year’s festival features the premiere of music commissioned by Stirling arts venue, Tolbooth.

Celebrated dub and reggae producer Adrian Sherwood and artist Graham Fagen have collaborated to create, I Murder Hate, a group of new songs all based on the lyrics of Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns.

The 250th anniversary of the birth of Burns has been marked by many events in Scotland but none have taken his work and given it such a significant cultural twist.

The beautiful lyrics of Burns receive a dub interpretation and are sung by the sweet voice of reggae artist Ghetto Priest and performed by Skip MacDonald and Pete Lockett.

The Blend also includes performances in the rural communities of Stirling and a three-day event at Tolbooth featuring, New Voices with Mor Karbasi and Mary Hampton and ending with the sultry fire of flamenco from Garbiel Gonzalez, Miguel Linares and Peter Walker.

Sat 28 Feb, Balfron
Sat 7 Mar, Killin
Fri 13 – Sun 15 Mar, Tolbooth, Stirling

Tickets: On sale now from www.theblendfestival.co.uk or 01786 27 4000

Find out more at What's On in Stirling

Scottish-Norwegian contemporary folk tour coming to Tolbooth

Nils Okland and Catriona McKay

An acclaimed Scottish / Norwegian contemporary folk tour is coming to the Tolbooth on 6 March. The tour is a double-bill of Norway’s leading hardanger fiddler Nils Okland and Scottish harpist Catriona McKay, two of the leading lights of the contemporary folk scenes in the UK and Scandinavia. They will be performing ancient and contemporary interpretations of traditional folk from Norway and the northern reaches of Scotland.

Following on from their highly acclaimed 2008 tour of England, the performances will feature Catriona’s new work Floe for quintet, which was commissioned by Celtic Connections 2008, as well as a new collaboration between Nils Okland’s trio, Catriona McKay and Alistair MacDonald. The musicians use their language and heritage to create new sound worlds which evoke the striking, ethereal beauty of Norwegian and Scottish landscapes.

Find out more at What's On in Stirling


The Ceramic Experience in Stirling

Visit The Ceramic Experience in Stirling, the Premier Ceramic Cafe and Visitor Attraction. Discover how easy and fun it is painting ceramics - it's fun for all the family. At the studio, customers are supplied with everything from stamps and stencils to aprons, brushes tiles and paints.
Select your own piece of bisque (unpainted pottery), draw your design, and start painting.
Let your imagination run wild!

Ladies Nights, Parent/Toddler Painting Mornings. Book a party, a Hen Night, or an Office get together. Try your hand at glass making to create beautiful coasters, placemats or jewellery.

Find out more about The Ceramic Experience, a Scottish Tourist Board 4 Star Visitor Attraction at Days out around Stirling.

Comedy Giant Teams Up With Tolbooth

Phil Nichol at the Tolbooth Edinburgh comedy super venue, the Gilded Balloon, has joined forces with Tolbooth to bring the very best in stand up comedy to Stirling. The Tolbooth's new monthly comedy club will feature some of the very best stand ups on the UK scene today and is sure to be a hit with comedy fans.

Tolbooth's Eddie White says, "This is going to be a great night out, a chance to have a laugh and enjoy yourself. Comedy has always been a big hit with our audience and I'm sure that the stand ups at our comedy club will have them in the aisles."

The opening night of the new comedy club features the energetic multi-award-winning Phil Nichol. Phil's show is not for children or the faint hearted and his in-your-face style can mean that literally anything could happen. He was the comedian who stripped naked to take the 'walk of shame' when told by host Ann Robinson that he was 'The Weakest Link' in a comedian's special edition of the show.

Winner of the if.comedy (formerly Perrier award) at the 2006 Fringe Festival, Phil is a legend amongst stand ups and a real crowd pleaser.

Tolbooth Comedy Club
Phil Nichol + Stephen Carlin
Thu 26 Feb, 8pm

Find out more at What's On in Stirling

Stirling open-top bus tour not running

Stirling's open-top bus tours, a popular attraction for visitors to the city of Stirling will not be running for the foreseeable future. The open-top bus provided a vital link connecting visitors to places of interest, including the Bannockburn Heritage Centre, Stirling Castle, the National Wallace Monument and Bridge of Allan.

The City Sightseeing Stirling director said, "the dramatic decline in local marketing activity since Visitscotland took over from local tourist boards, combined with the closure of other local visitor attractions, has meant the Stirling tour is no longer viable. In turn, the loss of the open-top bus will inevitably impact detrimentally on our remaining visitor attractions."

Tree carving in local woodland

As part of the Woods in and Around Towns project, Stirling Council has commissioned a chainsaw carver to sculpt a felled tree on the woodlands below Stirling Castle. The project is part funded by the Forestry Commission.

The woodland management involved felling a number of trees, explained Countryside Ranger, Anna Black. "Because the slopes are so steep below the castle we had to leave most of them on site where they will rot down naturally making a fantastic home for small insects and minibeasts."

Tommy Craggs will be working on one of the trees over the next few weeks; he hopes to carve a wolf and unicorn, both of which have strong historical links to Stirling. His speciality is dragons and he will also try and incorporate this into the design.

There will be a short section of footpath diverted during the work, expected to take up to 3 weeks starting from this week weather permitting.

From the Stirling Council website.

Celebrate Burns with a supper at Stirling Castle

Historic Scotland is celebrating Scotland’s most famous poet ,with a special Burns supper menu at Stirling Castle. Following the success of the Burns Broons day at Edinburgh Castle, mouth-watering traditional Burns suppers will be served at Stirling Castle on 24th and 25th January, between 12.00pm to 2.30pm.

Stirling Castle will be providing a three-course menu of soup, haggis and desert for £9.95. The option to buy each course individually will also be available and between 11.00am and 1.00pm visitors will have the chance to taste free haggis bites. Copies of some of Burns’ best loved poems: Tam O’Shanter, My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose and To A Mouse will also be on display around the café for visitors to enjoy.

Kings, Queens, Emperors and Heroes

New research may help solve the riddle of the Stirling Heads. The Stirling Heads are one of Scotland’s greatest but least understood Renaissance treasures. Research sponsored by Historic Scotland is helping shed light on who might be depicted in the large oak carvings and why they were created. stirling castle - royal palace

It has been carried out as part of a £12 million project to return the royal palace at Stirling Castle to how it may have looked in the 1540s and create a new gallery where the heads will go on permanent public display.

Many of the heads are now lost, but 33 survive along with sketches of two others which were destroyed in a fire. Measuring up to a metre in diameter and shaped like medallions, the heads date from the mid-sixteenth century, and adorned the ceilings of one, or more, of the most important chambers of the royal palace at Stirling Castle.

Dr Sally Rush, a senior lecturer from Glasgow University’s History of Art Department, believes those that have survived to the present day may include portraits of Scottish kings James I and James V, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the English King Henry VIII and his sister Margaret Tudor.

"Had you walked into the King’s Presence Chamber when the ceiling was complete I think you would have seen a whole sequence of Stewart kings, all the James’s from I to V."

"It was a statement by James V to say that his dynasty went back a long way in an unbroken line and had the inalienable right to rule over Scotland."

"The presence of Henry VIII and Margaret Tudor, mother of James V, is a reminder of his claim to the English throne."

"One of the heads which was destroyed by fire, but of which we have a sketch, may have shown Henry VIII, complete with English lion, face-on in the style developed specifically for his portraits by Hans Holbein."

"Margaret Tudor is wearing a distinctive English hood and is seen with a greyhound which was one of her family’s heraldic symbols."

"There would probably have been other European rulers of the day as well, such as the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, showing that James V had powerful allies.”

The palace was begun by James V in around 1538 as a home for his new French bride Mary de Guise. Dr Rush suspects that the carvings of Scottish royals were taken from official portraits belonging to James V and other family members. It is even possible that a French portrait artist, Pierre Quesnel working at the court of James V produced drawings which were used as models for some of the carvings.

An image of Princess Madeleine of France, James V’s first wife who died of TB shortly after arriving in Scotland, may be among the survivors. A number of the male and female characters are in the latest Italian fashions. These include deeply slashed doublets for men and low-cut dresses, loose hair in long tresses topped with little caps for the women.

Dr Rush said: "These are the latest looks that would be popular with the young bucks and high born women on the Continent. They gave out a message that James V was in touch with what was going on across the channel, as part of modern Europe."

"One very beautiful carving in particular is of a woman in the most up-to-the-minute outfit - she’s right on the money for what would have been worn at the French and Italian courts. I suspect that a lot of Scottish courtiers would be thinking how much they wanted to keep up by getting hold of similar clothes for themselves."

The collection also included great heroes and historical figures with whom James V wanted to be associated. Dr Rush believes one head shows Julius Caesar who was among the Nine Worthies. These were Christian, Jewish and pagan figures like King Arthur, Joshua and Alexander the Great, who were famous warriors and conquerors.

Dr Rush thinks the heads showed how James V wanted to be seen as a monarch of taste and fashion, with great classical virtues and an impressive pedigree. They were also the king’s chance to try and determine how he would be remembered, as the herald of a new golden age. This is especially poignant as he died in 1542 aged just 30, with the crown passing to the infant Mary Queen of Scots, leaving Scotland to endure decades of chaos.

stirling castle - royal palace - stirling heads A replica set of the Stirling Heads is currently being hand-carved by master craftsman John Donaldson and will be used on the ceiling of the King’s Presence Chamber, showing how it might have looked in the mid-sixteenth century.To find out more about the heads and the palace project, including a series of fact sheets, visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/mediaresources

FIND OUT MORE about Stirling Castle at
Sightseeing in Stirling

Courses and Classes

The Tolbooth provides a wide range of fun activities all year round! These classes enable children to develop new skills through creative activities and top tutors lead a wide variety of classes, from Art and Pottery to Music and Drama.

Classes also run for adults and families. Join them for studio recording sessions, guitar or try your hand at ceramics. There is something for everyone!

FIND OUT MORE about Classes and Workshops at
What's On in Stirling


A second year of funding has been awarded from Scottish Arts Council for crafts makers living or working in Falkirk, Stirling or Clackmannanshire.

The deadline for applications is 2nd March.
For further details contact: Lesley MacArthur, External Funding Officer, Falkirk Council.
Tel 01324 506260

Albert Halls New Year

As everyone catches their breath from the festivities, Stirling's Albert Halls has released their new programme of events for 2009. Scotland’s number 1 AC/DC tribute band – Volts play the Albert Halls on Saturday 31 January with fellow tribute rockers Astray – the UK’s finest tribute to the mighty Led Zeppelin. This non-stop 2-hour rock n’ roll extravaganza will blow your head off your shoulders with tickets priced at £14.00. Doors 7.00pm.

Other events during January include the Scotfairs Antique Fair on Saturday 10 from 10am with thousands of interesting, beautiful and affordable items for everyone. The antique fair promises a great shopping experience with admission only £1.

Some of the other highlights to look forward to in the first part of 2009 include Stageworxs Musical madness, hit television show Brainiac live, American Superslam Wrestling and a welcome return to madcap comedian Freddie Starr, not to mention former Smiths front man Morrissey playing live in May as part of his UK tour.

The Events Guide is available from the Albert Halls, local libraries, Community Centres and Council Offices. For further information on events, ticket prices and times please contact the Albert Halls Box Office on 01786 473544.

What's On in Stirling

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