Snowdrops blossoming at Culzean Castle

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Blossoming across the country until 12 March, the Scottish Snowdrop Festival features more than 50 properties - including 13 newly added for 2017.

Venues taking part in the festival include Culzean Castle Country Park near Maybole.

Managed by The National Trust For Scotland, Culzean Castle Country Park covers nearly 600 acres of stunning countryside and visitors can enjoy miles of waymarked paths leading through majestic woodland, past secluded ponds and along a cliff top walk which affords spectacular views of Ailsa Craig. The park has a wealth of popular attractions including the Swan Pond, Deer Park and Adventure Playground plus hidden treasures such as the ice houses, the Camellia House, the pagoda and the caves.

The annual Scottish Snowdrop Festival, now in its 11th year, aims to encourage locals and tourists alike to enjoy the wonders of Scotland’s gardens and estate grounds.

For the first time this year, the festival is being organised by garden tourism group Discover Scottish Gardens, and supported by VisitScotland.

Research shows that one in three visitors to Scotland make a trip to a forest or woodland park during their stay while 42% visit a country park or garden.

Annique Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “Over the past decade the Scottish Snowdrop Festival has grown to become an annual calendar highlight, with the first snowdrops of the year providing a sign that spring is just around the corner. The festival also provides a welcome boost for attractions during a traditionally quieter period of the year as it encourages as many people as possible to get out and about to enjoy this great seasonal sight around Scotland’s most stunning gardens and estates.

“Many of the Scottish Snowdrop Festival locations are the grounds of some of Scotland’s most historic buildings, such as Craufurdland Castle which dates from 1245 and is one of the oldest in Ayrshire. Such buildings are a perfect fit for Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. From World Heritage sites to ancient monuments, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends, the year-long programme will shine the spotlight on our greatest assets and icons, as well as our hidden gems.”

Catherine Erskine, Chair of Discover Scottish Gardens and founder of the Snowdrop Festival in Scotland, said: “We are very lucky in Scotland to have a fantastic climate for snowdrops, with many species thriving here and creating stunning displays. And this year, due to a mild winter, snowdrops are certainly popping their heads out earlier than they have for many years.”