Ayrshire is one of the birth places of golf in Scotland as it started the Open Championship and now hosts more than fifty golf courses across the region. In 2016 the spotlight will again be on it, with Royal Troon hosting the Open Championship once again and while golf is a major part of life in Ayrshire, with superb championship courses at Rowallan or the heathland course at Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae which is well worth visiting for the island experience in itself. There is much more to see and do and with the coastline stretching over eighty miles there are superb sandy beaches and quiet smugglers coves to explore.
Culture and history is always close to hand and Ayrshire has particularly strong links with Robert Burns, the Bard of Scotland, and is home to the Burns Monument Centre set in peaceful parkland in Kilmarnock together with the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway and the Burns House Museum in Mauchline. Other sites not to be missed include National Trust for Scotland Culzean Castle (pronounced Cull-ane) just south of Ayr and of course, Dumfries House which was largely saved and opened for the public through the support of HRH Prince Charles. If you have time for local island hopping a trip to Arran is well worth while including a visit to Brodick Castle. Enjoyable family days out, when not on the beach, can be had attractions such as Heads of Ayr farm park with play areas and farm animals or Kelburn Castle and Country Centre at Farlie. The castle has received much media attention recently with its colourfully-painted castle walls and for its impressive raised woodland walkways and indoor/outdoor play areas.
The Clyde coast is a wonderful place to visit for both wildlife and walking and pleasant coastal and rural walks allow it to be explored in peace and . It is of course also a busy centre for sailing with busy centres at Prestwick, Largs and Inverkip. Day trips on can be arranged from these centres to explore the coast and have a chance to see Basking Sharks, Seals, Dolphins, Porpoises, Otters, Sea-Eagles and majestic seabirds in this rich marine environment and will make a very special and memorable day out. The historic maritime connections of the area are commemorated with the Scottish Maritime Museum which is situated on Irvine's Harbourside. The museum provides exhibitions and ship models as well as Scotland's 'Cathedral of Engineering', the Linthouse Engine Shop, built in 1872. The museum also includes a tour of a shipyard workers' tenement flat, restored to its pre-1920s appearance.
Upcoming Events & Places to Visit
Kelburn is thought to be the oldest castle in Scotland to have been continuously inhabited by the same family. Based around a 13th Century castle that's had an amazing makeover courtesy of a team of Brazilian artists, the estate near Largs, Ayrshire also features dramatic walks, breathtaking gardens and many features of historical interest. It has many events on throughout the year, all of which sound fantastic...
Upcoming events at Kelburn Castle include:-
May : Sat 5th May - Mon 7th May - Superhero Secret Forest
Fri 25th May - Mon 28th May - Gruffalo
June: 29th June -2nd July - Kelburn Garden party
Discover a music festival like no other… a feast of music, art and adventure in a fairytale setting! https://www.kelburngardenparty.com/
Ayr Racecourse is Scotland’s only Grade 1 track and home to the jewels in the crown of Scottish Racing – the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival in April and the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival in September. It's the perfect day out with friends!
BURNSFRINGE, various dates throughout May
In May 2018 the Burns an' a' that! Festival will celebrate its seventeenth anniversary and Scotland's Year of Young People by showcasing some of our best Burns landmarks at events throughout South Ayrshire. Keep an eye on their website for listings...
Burnsfest! is a FREE family festival featuring live music, Burns Wine Bar and Beer Garden, A-Coo-Stick Tipi, The Mercat, Performance Pokey, Bairns Bunnet, Burns Fair and more!
Ayr farmers markets, every saturday
Ayr market takes place on the first Saturday of the month (excluding January). You can shop for local meat, fish, home baking, vegetables, cheese, eggs, chocolate, honey, home-made soups and confectionery, with stallholders made up of the farming families that make up the Ayrshire Farmers' Market
The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum offers a truly unique encounter with Scotland's favourite son.
Start your visit in the museum building and enjoy this 21st century tribute to Burns. It houses the world's most important collection of Burns' original works and personal belongings, in a bright and modern building. The museum has an attractive cafe serving light meals and refreshments and shop with a wide selection of unique gifts and souvenirs. Look out for exhibitions and events throughout the year. After visiting the museum, visit the birthplace of Scotland's national poet; why not explore the Burns Monument in Kilmarnock, the Brig o'Doon or Alloway's Auld Kirk.
The Museum has events on throughout the year but on the lead up to Christmas they have some truly magical festivities happening including:- Christmas Ceilidh, Elves Tea Party a visit from Santa and much more! Check out their website for full event times and dates...
Woods, beaches, secret follies, play park and a cliff-top castle - a fantastic day out. Highlights of the castle include Adam's sweeping Oval Staircase and a fine collection of paintings and furniture. Children love to spot the Lego figure hidden in each room. With regular events, there is always something different happening at Culzean.
SCOTTISH DARK SKY OBSERVATORY, Dalmellington
The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory occupies a fantastic hilltop site on the edge of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park. This publically accessible educational observatory has some of the darkest skies in the UK and two large telescopes through which to observe the night sky. The Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park was the first Dark Sky Park in the UK and Europe, and was award a Gold-tier status by the International Dark-Sky Association. This new observatory includes a 20” Corrected Dall Kirkham telescope in a 5 metre dome and a 14″ Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope for a more hands-on, open air observing experience. The SDSO has a mobile planetarium, which we can use to take an immersive planetarium experience out to you.The planetarium is inflatable, is 6 metres in diameter, and can accommodate up to 40 people comfortably. It offers an inspiring experience, bringing a projection of the night sky that is close to being outside on a clear night in a true dark site
With an array of stargazing events every week, check out their website for full details.
BOAT TRIPS TO AILSA CRAIG, from Girvan Harbour (year round)
See spectacular bird and wildlife around Ailsa Craig, a prime location for bird enthusiasts and hill-walkers. There are daily sailings from Girvan Harbour, all year round, with a fully licensed vessel that can carry 12 passengers per trip. Fishing trips are also available. Ailsa is a truly unique island. It is 1,114 feet high, about 2.5 miles (4 km) around the base and is made of unique, very hard granite. The island is now managed as an RSPB Nature Reserve by agreement with the Marquees of Ailsa, it is also by Law a SSSI and designated a Special Protection Area. Ailsa is principally a seabird colony and is famous for its Gannets, with the third largest colony in Britain. The Gannet is the largest breeding seabird and can be seen making spectacular high dives to catch its fish prey.
Visit the unique 5 star Visit Scotland Visitor Attraction, The A. D. Rattray Whisky Experience and Whisky Shop in South Ayrshire, Scotland. The perfect introduction to Scotch whisky... experience everything about the national drink, brought to life by a knowledgeable and friendly team. Explore, nose and taste an incredible selection of malts and single casks. Fill your own personal bottle straight from a cask or book a tasting session to sample a special selection of A. D. Rattray’s award winning whiskies.
* Ayr Seafront Playpark – a firm favourite with children open all year round. Please note – no parking facilities.
* Dean Castle and Country Park, Kilmarnock -
fantastic free day out for all the family. The country park, covering over 200 acres, is nestled in the heart of Kilmarnock and offers something for kids and adults alike to enjoy.
* Heads of Ayr Park, Alloway - Animal park and indoor & outdoor play areas.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday Indoor Winter Weekends only until 18th March. 10.00am-4.00pm
* Three Green Knights Trail, Auchincruive
* The Burns Trail, Alloway
* Cairn Table, near Muirkirk