The Northern Lights Festival at Wick Harbour

So, you’re looking for things to do in Wick in October? Or wondering when is good to visit the North Coast? Well, you are in luck! Because October is the month the town comes alive with celebrations of the majesty of light in a spectacular festival! Yes, the Northern Lights Festival at Wick Harbour is a Scottish tradition not to be missed. Plus it’s perfect for all the family and outdoors, so dogs can join in too. And being one of the best family and dog friendly Scottish hotels, we want you all to have the best possible time!

So, relish in the entertainment as buildings are lit up, and the giant (and we mean giant!) goddess of the sea passes by. She (STORM) is brought to life by a team of expert puppeteers and lit up to the skies in a spectacular display in a breathtaking experience. So, take in the colours, dancing, music and excitement of the procession as they light up the winter night sky.

Stunning displays to brighten the night

The first Northern Lights Festival took place in 2021. And straight away it was a hit, opening to glowing reviews by entertainment critics. As such, it has firmly put Wick on the map as a winter holiday destination in Scotland. Being produced by the UK’s most northerly art centre, the local Lyth Arts Centre, this arts festival is an audio-visual treat. On the opening night, large projections are used to highlight the town’s heritage buildings. As such, everything from sheds to the water itself is brought to life in a spectacular display. Whatsmore, the procession walks directly past Mackays Hotel! So, if you are staying with us, you can enjoy true Scottish entertainment and wonderful art exhibitions as they pass your window. 

And this is exactly what the Nomadic Boys did as guests of ours in October 2021. And here is a little of the footage they caught:

What to expect from the Northern Lights Festival in Wick

So join us and join in the audiences as they walk through the harbour, lit up at night and see the old former salt stores as they were in the times of the Herring fishing boom. They take in modern-day oil tanks, Wick lighthouse on the harbour and the historic Herring mart. All this makes for a journey through Caithness’ coastal history, hence the importance of STORM, the sea goddess. . She took eight puppeteers to manage her, attached to a giant truck and made entirely from recycled material. In the procession, she walked through the town and over the harbour with spectators looking on in awe! We hope for her return in years to come!

Further on the procession, as you are led through the historic town of Wick, set on the North Coast 500, you will discover stories and areas never noticed before. This is truly a festival for all the senses and is a delight for any age.  This is a new festival that is to become one of the best Scottish festivals for your diary!

Free events in Wick

Plus, during this Scottish festival, there is a range of other great Wick and Caithness activities and events happening. What’s more, they are free to everyone. The week-long festival is celebrated at Wick Harbour and along the Caithness coastline, encouraging people to explore the beautiful land. And works are portrayed to help visitors to Wick’s festival understand its rugged history and the people who once lived and worked here. The 2021 festival featured video portraits from current Wick residents, contrasting them with the past communities of the Herring fishing times. 

Keep an eye on the Lyth Arts Centre website to find out more about future festival dates. 

Wick Harbour with a red sky
Red skies over Wick Harbour

Other autumnal activities to try in Wick

October in 2021 was a relatively warm month, often colder weather doesn’t hit Scotland until a bit later. But come prepared as the weather can turn on a pin! And although it can be mild in October, it can be very stormy in our remote hotel location on the beautiful NC500. And as the leaves fall and the days get shorter, autumn in Wick is a lovely time to visit. Yes, the colours of autumn in Scotland are spectacular! Plus the grey skies make for amazing moody photos on the cliff tops.

Best places to eat in Wick

And if you are a food fan, there are plenty of seasonal delicacies on offer, especially at our in-house restaurant, No. 1 Bistro. But don’t take our word for it… check out our TripAdvisor reviews, or ask the locals where the best places are to eat in Wick. We are sure to be up top! As such, we deliver seasonal and local ingredients in our delicious dishes and provide you with a true taste of the Highlands. 

Most spectacular Scottish scenery and coastlines

Outside, the sun hangs low in the sky making for some of the most dramatic sunsets ever, when the sky becomes all shades of red. And when it’s grey, the clouds hang like moody oil paintings, contrasting against the ragged cliffs and green tops.

Where best to see the Northern Lights in Scotland

Plus, the darker nights mean an increased chance of spotting the magical Northern Lights, the namesake of our festival! And where best to see the Northern Lights in Scotland than sparkling across the sea waters, from the rugged coastlines of Caithness. The Aurora can be seen high in the sky, dancing flares of blue, red and green out over the North Sea in the winter months (October to March are the best months to glimpse the Northern Lights). The result of the Earth’s magnetic field reacting with charged particles from Sun flares, they are truly a sight to behold. 

Book a Highland Holiday with us

So give a break in Wick a try during the autumn months and see what you’re missing. From the Northern Lights Festival at Wick Harbour to the northern lights themselves, it’s a beautiful place. Book your stay at Mackays Hotel today and get ready for a beautiful holiday. 

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