You can get details of specific events at many of the festivals below by going to www.edinburgh-festivals.com.
For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
Celtic Connections, Glasgow. During this celebration of the Celtic roots that combined with other cultures to form modern Scotland, concerts are staged in churches, auditoriums, and meeting halls throughout the city. A prime venue is the Old Fruit Market, on Albion Street, drawing dance troupes from throughout Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. For tickets and details, call tel. 0141/353-8000, or visit www.celticconnections.com. Mid-January to late February.
Burns Night, Ayr (near his birthplace) and Dumfries. Naturally, during the celebrations to honor Robert Burns, there's much toasting with Scotch and eating of haggis (spiced intestines). For details, call tel. 01292/443-700 in Ayr, or 01387/253-862 in Dumfries. The website www.burnsheritagepark.com also has information. January 25.
Up Helly Aa, Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands. The most northerly town in Great Britain still clings to tradition by staging an ancient Norse fire festival whose aim is to encourage the return of the sun after the pitch-dark days of winter. Its highlight is the burning of a replica of a Norse longboat. Call tel. 0870/999440, or visit www.visitshetland.com. Last Tuesday in January.
Aberdeen Angus Cattle Show, Perth. This show draws the finest cattle raised in Scotland. Sales are lively. Call tel. 01738/622-477. Early February.
Whuppity Scourie, Lanark. Residents of the Strathclyde get so tired of winter that they stage this traditional ceremony to chase it away. Call tel. 01555/661-661. March 1.
Ceilidh Culture, at various venues, Edinburgh. For details on this feast of Scottish folk tunes, call tel. 0131/228-1155, or visit www.ceilidhculture.co.uk. Generally April 1.
Kate Kennedy Procession & Pageant, St. Andrews. This historic university pageant is staged annually in the university city of St. Andrews, in eastern Scotland. Call tel. 01334/472-021. Second Saturday in April.
Scottish Motorcycle Trials, Fort William. The trials are run for 6 days at the beginning of the month, drawing aficionados from all over Europe. Call tel. 01397/703-781, or visit www.ssdt.org. Early May.
Highland Games & Gatherings, at various venues throughout the country, including Aberfeldy, Perth, Crieff, Ballater, Oban, and Portree on the Isle of Skye. Details are available from the Edinburgh & Scotland Information Centre. Early May to mid-September.
Exhibitions at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh. Changing exhibits of international interest are offered here annually. Call tel. 0131/225-6671, or log on to www.royalscottishacademy.org. Early May to late June.
Promenade Concerts, Glasgow. These concerts by the Scottish National Orchestra are given at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Call tel. 0141/353-8000, or visit www.glasgowconcerthalls.com. Throughout June (sometimes into July).
Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Pitlochry. Scotland's "theater in the hills" launches its season in June. Call tel. 01796/484-626, or visit www.pitlochry.org.uk. June to early November.
Lanimer Day, Lanark. This week of festivities features a ritual procession around the town's boundaries, the election of a Lanimer Queen and a Cornet King, and a parade with floats, along with Highland dances and bagpipe playing. Call tel. 01555/663-251, or visit www.lanarklanimers.co.uk. The Thursday between June 6 and 12.
Guid Nychburris (Good Neighbors), Dumfries. This age-old festival is an event similar to (but less impressive than) the Selkirk Common Riding . Call tel. 01387/253-862, or visit www.guidnychburris.co.uk. Mid-June.
Royal Highland Show, at the Ingliston Showground, outskirts of Edinburgh. This show is devoted to agriculture and commerce. For details, call tel. 0131/335-6200, or visit www.royalhighlandshow.org. Mid- to late June.
Selkirk Common Riding, Selkirk. This is Scotland's most elaborate display of horsemanship, remembering Selkirk's losses in the 1560 Battle of Flodden -- only one Selkirk soldier returned alive from the battle to warn the town before dropping dead in the marketplace. Some 400 horses and riders parade through the streets, and a young unmarried male is crowned at the sound of the cornet, representing the soldier who sounded the alarm. Call tel. 01750/200-54, or visit www.selkirk.border-net.co.uk. Mid-June.
Beltane Day, Peebles. A town "Cornet" rides around to see if the boundaries are safe from the "invading" English, a young girl is elected Festival Queen, and her court is filled with courtiers, sword bearers, guards, and attendants. Children of the town dress in costumes for parade floats through the streets. Call tel. 0870/608-0404. Mid-June.
Gay Pride, Edinburgh or Glasgow. Scotland's annual gay-pride celebration alternates between Edinburgh and Glasgow. You'll see a quirky, boisterous parade through the heart of Glasgow or along Princes Street in Edinburgh. For details, call Pride Scotia (tel. 0131/556-9471; www.pride-scotia.org). Sometime in June.
Glasgow International Jazz Festival, Glasgow. Jazz musicians from all over the world come together to perform at various venues around the city. Call tel. 0141/552-355, or visit www.jazzfest.co.uk. Late June to early July.
Lammas Fair, St. Andrews. Although there's a dim medieval origin to this 2-day festival, it's not particularly obvious. Temporary Ferris wheels and whirligigs are hauled in, cotton candy and popcorn are sold, palm readers describe your past and your future, and flashing lights and recorded disco music create something akin to Blackpool-in-the-Highlands. There's even an opportunity for bungee jumping. Call tel. 01334/472-021. Early August.
World Pipe Band Championships, Glasgow. Bagpipe bands from around the world gather on the parklike Glasgow Green in the city's East End. From 11am to about 6pm, there's a virtual orgy of bagpiping, as kilted participants strut their stuff in musical and military precision. Call tel. 0141/221-5414, or visit www.rspba.org. Mid-August.
Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh. Scotland's best-known festival is held for 3 weeks. Called an "arts bonanza," it draws major talent from around the world, with more than a thousand shows presented and a million tickets sold. Book, jazz, and film festivals are also staged at this time, but nothing tops the Military Tattoo against the backdrop of spotlighted Edinburgh Castle. Contact the Festival Society, 21 Market St., Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 1BW (tel. 0131/473-2099; www.eif.co.uk). Three weeks in August.
Ben Nevis Mountain Race, Fort William, in the Highlands. A tradition since 1895, when it was established by a member of the MacFarlane clan, the race assembles as many as 500 runners who compete for the coveted MacFarlane Cup, a gold medal, and a prize of £50. Runners congregate at the base of Ben Nevis (Britain's highest peak) to tackle a course that takes them up narrow footpaths to the summit and back. Bagpipes rise in crescendos at the beginning and end of the experience. Call tel. 01397/700-707, or log on to www.visit-fortwilliam.co.uk. First Saturday in September.
Highland Games & Gathering, Braemar. The queen and many members of the royal family often show up for this annual event, with its massed bands, piping and dancing competitions, and performances of great strength by a tribe of gigantic men. Contact tel. 01339/755-377, or visit www.braemargathering.org. First Saturday in September.
Hamilton Flat Races, Hamilton, near Glasgow. The races take place over a period of 2 to 3 days. Call the Hamilton race course at tel. 01698/283-806, or visit www.hamilton-park.co.uk.
Highland Autumn Cattle Show, Oban, in western Scotland. Since the days of Rob Roy, Oban has been a marketplace for the long-haired, tawny cattle whose elongated horns have been associated with the toughness of the Highlands. For this show, buyers and sellers from Britain, as well as from such cold-weather climes as Sweden, Norway, and Canada, come to buy cattle (either for stud or for beef purposes). Everything is rather businesslike (but still colorful) in the industrial-looking Caledonian Auction Mart, 5km (3 miles) south of Oban. Call tel. 01631/563-122. Mid-October.
Winter Antiques & Collector's Fair, Edinburgh. This fair draws dealers and buyers from all over Europe and America. Call tel. 0131/335-6200, or visit www.antiquesnews.co.uk. Second week in November.
Christmas Shopping Festival, Aberdeen. For those who want to shop early for Christmas. Call tel. 01224/288-828. Third week of November to December.
St. Andrews Week, St. Andrews. This annual festival of exhibits, concerts, sporting events, fireworks displays, and local foods takes place over the week leading up to St. Andrews Day on November 30. Call tel. 01334/472-021. The week ending November 30.
Flambeaux Procession, Comrie, Tayside. This torchlight parade takes place on New Year's Eve. For details, call tel. 01764/652-578 in Crieff. December 31.
Hogmanay, Edinburgh. Hogmanay begins on New Year's Eve and merges into New Year's Day festivities. Events include a torchlight procession, a fire festival along Princes Street, a carnival, and a street-theater spectacular. Call tel. 0845/225-5121. December 31.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.