The arts are in full bloom in the South of Scotland this spring

From frolicking lambs and bursts of bluebells to arts festivals and historic houses, a new campaign by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) celebrates springtime as one of the most magical times to visit the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, providing all the information holidaymakers need to plan the perfect spring escape.

Fittingly in the season of new beginnings, the second instalment of the SSDA’s Endless Adventures All Year Round marketing drive on sees the SSDA team up with Go Rural, Scotland’s network of farm based tourism and leisure businesses, to highlight seasonal farm experiences to discover.

Alongside the focus on agritourism and abundant spring flowers, the seasonal campaign highlights how the arts burst into bloom in the South of Scotland at this time of year, with the annual three-day Spring Fling topping the bill in late May.

Scotland’s “premier art and craft open studios event”, Spring Fling takes place across Dumfries and Galloway from Saturday 25 to Bank Holiday Monday 27 May. This year is the festival’s biggest line-up yet, with 104 studios participating, plus the Spring Fling Rural Mural, dedicated bus tours and lots more.

Spring Fling Artists at Nate Robinson’s Forge, Thornhill, Nithsdale, Dumfriesshire. From left are artists Deborah Campbell, Gyllian Thomson, Nate Robinson and Robyn Cove, pictured in Nate’s Forge.
Photography: Colin Hattersley

Away from the crowds visitors have their pick of beautiful spring gardens and forest parks, from the magical sight of bluebells blossoming among the trees at Carstramon Wood near Gatehouse of Fleet, to the famous spring display of rhododendrons and azaleas at Dawyck Botanic Garden near Stobo village in the Borders.

Other activities highlighted in the bucket list include cycling the new Kirkpatrick Coast to Coast route; exploring the South of Scotland’s many historic halls – including Scotland’s largest inhabited castle, Floors Castle; visiting Scotland’s smallest theatre and discovering the gastronomic delights of the South of Scotland through its many award-winning restaurants, farm shops and distilleries.

The Kirkpatrick C2C with the Eildons in the background.

The campaign follows the success of the SSDA’s winter campaign, which reached over half a million people. The spring campaign is running across the SSDA’s consumer-facing platform, Scotland Starts Here, and its associated social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, X) until late May, and aims to support local businesses by putting the South of Scotland on the map as a year-round destination. There is an events blog highlighting activities in May . as well as the Spring Bucket List blog.

CEO of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance, David Hope-Jones, said, “The South of Scotland really comes to life in spring, with the arts flourishing and the public gardens bursting into colour.

“May is Agritourism month: the perfect time to shine a spotlight on all of the brilliant farm stays and experiences in the South of Scotland. Our new partnership with Go Rural aims to encourage visitors to go and get a taste of rural life in the region first-hand, whether trekking with alpacas at Beirhope Alpacas, visiting Highland cows at Kitchen Coos & Ewes or staying on a real working farm in the South of Scotland.

“May will also see this year’s Spring Fling, which is set to be bigger and better than ever, it is a must-see for visitors to the South of Scotland, with more than 100 artists opening their doors to the public across Dumfries and Galloway.

“We want to make the South of Scotland a year-round destination, benefiting not only local businesses, but also visitors to the area, who are guaranteed to be blown away by the magnificence of the South of Scotland during the springtime.”

Beirhope Alpacas is just one of many farm experiences on offer in the South of Scotland.

Laura Paterson from Scottish Agritourism, the sector body behind the Go Rural brand, said: “We are delighted to be working with SSDA to showcase the many wonderful agritourism businesses in the south of Scotland. The region is rich with quality agritourism experiences including beautiful farms stays, award winning farm experiences, many opportunities to buy fresh produce direct from a farmer and to eat on a farm, and spring is the perfect time to enjoy them all.”

 Joanna Jones, Upland Assistant Director, said: “This year’s Spring Fling will be the biggest ever, with 104 studios taking part in every part of the region, from Moffat to Stranraer.

“Dumfries and Galloway has an amazing and vibrant creative community and it’s wonderful to see this fertile cultural landscape in the spotlight thanks to the Scotland Starts Here spring campaignOur open studios weekend brings in thousands of visitors every year who love to meet and chat to artists and makers and buy superb contemporary art and crafts including paintings, original prints, jewellery, ceramics, textiles, woodwork and much more.

“Another of Spring Fling’s big attractions is Dumfries and Galloway itself, and the chance to tour lovely studios, many in unusual locations, set in one of Scotland’s most beautiful rural regions.”


Leave a Reply