Strong local events sector highlighted
Tourism is a key driver in the economy of Perth and Kinross - with an estimated value of £500m annually to the area. A significant strength of tourism locally is the events sector - with an established and diverse calendar covering sport, art, music and culture, food and drink, and more.
Already in 2018 we have seen Perth's riverside twinkling with the Light Nights, with themes ranging from Chinese New Year to St Valentine's Day; the ever popular Scottish Game Fair celebrated its 30th year of highlighting conservation and the countryside; competitors on two wheels took to Highland Perthshire's roads again in the Etape Caledonia cycle event; and Scone Palace has rung to modern and classical sounds with the BBC Biggest Weekend in May, followed by the best of 80's hitmakers at the Rewind festival in July. The sweeping greens of Gleneagles also featured as part of the 2018 European Championships event in early August with top golfers from 15 countries seeking glory in men's, women's and mixed team competitions.
And although the year is more than half-way through, there's still lots more to look forward to! The many Highland Games held around the area will continue, including Crieff on Sunday 19 August and Blairgowrie on Sunday 2 September. Blair Castle's renowned International Horse Trials take place in late August, as will a boat race and associated entertainment on Loch Leven to mark the 450th anniversary of Mary Queen of Scots' escape from the loch's castle.
Also during August, Perth is hosting an exclusive chance to see professional rugby union team Glasgow Warriors take on English Premiership team Harlequins on the North Inch. The pre-season match will be held Saturday 18 August, with a 7,000 capacity arena constructed on the Inch - which will then be used for the annual City of Perth Salute the following day, featuring international performers from around the globe.
Into September, for those of a crafty persuasion, the Perth Festival of Yarn returns for its third year on 8 and 9 September, bringing together independent dyers, farmers, small-holders, knitters, spinners, felters and weavers from around Scotland and further afield, together with classes and lectures to inspire. If you have a taste for quality food and drink, September is also a great month, with the Great Perthshire Picnic offering opportunities all month to try the wares of local producers, restaurants and more around the area, as well as the Taste of Perthshire Food & Drink Festival in Perth itself from 14-16 September.
If early autumn is more of a time for burning off calories, then a new endurance event in Perth on 15 and 16 September - the Spartan Race - should provide more than sufficient challenge! The Perth event is the only one in Scotland in 2018 and combines urban and countryside running with obstacles ranging from muddy bogs and slippery ramps to 25-feet high cargo nets and more.
Finally, as the nights draw in, a diverse spread of winter entertainment will be on offer, from the Enchanted Forest's perennially appealing light and sound show near Pitlochry in October to Perth's multi-event Winter Festival, including celebrations for Halloween, Bonfire Night, the Christmas Lights Switch-On and St Andrew's Day.
Environment and Infrastructure Convener, Councillor Angus Forbes said: "As a Council we play a dual role in supporting the events sector in Perth and Kinross. Firstly, we provide advice, guidance and assistance to organisers so they can deliver successful events, including undertaking our regulatory and licensing obligations on key areas, from public safety and traffic management to alcohol licensing. The other aspect is our contribution to what is already a diverse portfolio locally, through events which the Council organises such as the Winter Festival. There is wide acknowledgement of the value of events in bringing visitors into an area, and what they add to its vibrancy and vitality. Strategically, this is addressed in key documents like the Perth City Plan, with events tourism also attracting people to rural communities around the area.
It's very clear that we have a rich array of things to see, do and enjoy here in Perth and Kinross and we want to encourage more people to come and experience what we have to offer. While we look forward to welcoming major events like the Solheim Cup in 2019, the key challenges for the future are attracting new events of scale, sustaining current events, and meeting visitor needs in terms of accommodation and associated services during busy periods. We will continue to look for new ways to support the tourism and events sector locally together with operators and national organisations like VisitScotland and EventScotland."