Dunnottar Castle is a ruined medieval fortress located upon a rocky headland on the north east coast of Scotland; about 3 kilometres south of Stonehaven
Image credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam
As part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, we’re starting a new series which highlights the many ways that Scotland’s tourism industry has engaged with the Themed Year.
We’re kicking things off by hearing from a selection of destination marketing organisation's (DMO) from across the country, as they share more detail about their Year of Stories activity, and why they’ve chosen to get involved.
Venture North are the Destination Management Organisation for tourism in Caithness and Sutherland, and they’re celebrating Scotland's Year of Stories 2022 as they dive right into the fascinating tales, history and legends of Caithness and Sutherland.
They also launched the Tales and Legends Map, which gives locals and visitors alike, a platform to access a wide range of stories from the region in one place. Whether looking for tales of folk-lore, hauntings, local stories, Highland History or WW2, this interactive Google map hosts it all – and links to the story behind each pin.
Here’s what the team at Venture North had to say about getting involved with Scotland's Year of Stories – whilst sharing some advice for businesses considering getting involved.
We have been so excited to be part of Scotland’s Themed Year in 2022. Storytelling has such a deep history throughout Scotland, and particularly in the North Highlands where our landscapes, history and people are bound together in a woven tapestry of shared experience. This is what we want to delight our visitors with as they explore our places and give them a deeper understanding of who we are and where we are going.
Our aim this year was to highlight the many amazing existing resources such as storytelling sites, recordings and local storytellers both past and present. Building on this throughout the year as more resources become available and using this record to inspire future storytelling whether through our own site or working in collaboration with partners.
Some advice we would give to any businesses looking to engage with the Year of Stories is that you don’t have to put on an expensive or intricately planned event to get involved. Visitors and locals are always so delighted to hear your story as it connects them with you; the people behind the business, and deepens their feeling of understanding and belonging.
Visit Inverness Loch Ness
Visit Inverness Loch Ness has used Scotland’s Year of Stories as an opportunity to showcase the Inverness and Loch Ness area and all that there is for visitors to see, feel and experience.
Dive into Visit Inverness Loch Ness' Year of Stories activity
Loch Ness is synonymous with the legendry tale of the Loch Ness Monster, which is known the world over. As part of their Year of Stories activity, Visit Inverness Loch Ness have used Nessie as inspiration for a heart-warming new film, which captures the tales and stories of Nessie being passed to friends and family by well-known faces and locals in the film.
The result was a highly impactful, humorous film which captures an authentic way which visitors can experience the mystical tale and legend.
Discover Our Stories at Visit Inverness Loch Ness
They also worked with writer Graeme Johncock to share the stories of Scotland in and around Inverness Loch Ness. Each story is an authentic tale, usually with an important message hidden under the surface, exploring everything the region has to offer beyond the tales of Nessie. These stories feature a wide range of well-known, and lesser known places; including Cawdor Castle, Bowhunter Archery, Fort George, Beauly Priory, Glen Affric and more. Read more about these local stories.
We asked Michael Golding, CEO of Visit Inverness Loch Ness to share some insight into their campaign that captures Scotland's Year of Stories themes so well.
Our aim was to promote the destination outside of the peak season and have content that showed all weathers, seasons, time of day and relevant Winter and Spring experiences. Our brief was to be a little edgy and be different from the majority of tourism promo videos. Loch Ness is one of the world’s most known stories and it made sense for this to be the basis of our storyline. Every scene in the video was shot in December, sun, snow, rainbows were all just part of the weather that happened to take place that week. We believe that authenticity in every scene, showing what is possible while telling our most well-known story in a fast-paced and fun way has led to a very positive response from visitors and the industry.
Visit Moray Speyside
Visit Moray Speyside launched #TalesofMoraySpeyside – a 12-month campaign designed to highlight the depth of stories across the region to celebrate this Themed Year.
From highlighting the iconic sites and stories that have shaped the region’s history; they created a suite of content each month, to fit a different theme supporting their regional stories.
Scotland's Year of Stories - Visit Moray Speyside
Their content includes their Stories blog series; each month focusing on a different key character in Moray Speyside’s history. From the Wolf of Badenoch to Helen Cumming, an early female trail-blazer in the whisky world, to the ‘Little Norway Project’ and the Holy sites of Moray Speyside – there’s a story for each visitor to connect with. Read more these stories on the Visit Moray Speyside website.
Hear from Laurie Piper, departing CEO at Visit Moray Speyside about the importance of Scotland's Year of Stories in connecting with future visitors.
We were excited at the possibilities and potential that the Year of Stories gave us to share some of our region’s most interesting, scariest, and in some cases, lesser-known tales, as well as highlighting some of the stories behind the things that make Moray Speyside world-famous like the rich family heritage underpinning brands like Baxters, Walkers and Johnstons of Elgin.
We’ve worked with local stakeholders to identify some of the stories and a professional storyteller who has helped craft attractive content which people want to read. We are not even halfway through our calendar of stories, but already we’ve had super feedback, and we’ve had additional stories brought forward as a result.
The key thing for us was getting a good balance across the content, with individuals, communities and groups having the chance to share their stories with us, and then to a wider audience
For Scotland’s Year of Stories, VisitAberdeenshire has chosen to capture the tales of locals with a campaign titled “Stories from our Home.” They invited the characters behind local tourism businesses to share charming and inspiring tales of what Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire means to them, and what they love most about the region.
Stories from Home
VisitAberdeenshire has involved a diverse range of businesses and local attractions, from Aberdeen Art Gallery to Johnshaven Heritage Club, the famous Mackie’s of Scotland to Meldrum House– and more.
A compilation of eight films feature on their website, with more currently under commission, here’s just a flavour of the way they’ve harnessed the region’s love of stories to connect with future visitors through the Themed Year. Watch one of their videos from this campaign, "Stories from Home - Mackie's of Scotland" video.
Let's hear from VisitAberdeenshire’s Marketing Manager, Elaine Bisset, about the way the DMO have embraced the Year of Stories.
“Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire is a region steeped in rich culture, history and heritage. When we learned that VisitScotland had chosen ‘Year of Stories’ for their Themed Year 2022, the Marketing and Communications team at VisitAberdeenshire got together to plan how we could leverage the Year of Stories by inviting people who live and work in the region to share their stories of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. We invited the characters behind local tourism businesses to put themselves forward and share their charming and inspiring tales of what Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire means to them, and what they love most about the region. We were delighted with the response from industry – while diverse in their nature, the participants all shared one thing. Their passion for the region, the place they call home.
At the heart of 2022’s Themed Year is ‘story telling’, and we worked with local film company – Signal - on the ‘Stories from our home’ concept. Story telling conjures thoughts of bedside tales or relaxing with a book in a comfortable chair – enter… the famous yellow chair! We worked closely with Signal to create the classic storytelling environment, outdoors and at various locations around Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. Signal transported the yellow chair on location all over the local countryside to film our characters telling their stories in their own environment.
With seven films already produced and another five under commission as of May 2022, we have been delighted with the response to our series of stories. We wanted each video to be innovative, attention grabbing and memorable whilst also invoking memories of ‘home’ and the associated comforts and through our collaboration with Signal, and our 12 local characters, we are honoured to be able to tell just some of the ‘Stories from our home.
Visitors may be familiar with the iconic scenery and landscapes the region offers, but this campaign brings these places to life through the stories, and voices, of those who live and work across the Cairngorms. They seek to share the stories of behind the landscapes to make the visitors experience of these places much deeper, richer and more memorable.
The Characters of the Cairngorms campaign features in a variety of media forms; from individual short films for each character, a 4-part podcast series and blogs which shine a spotlight on the communities within the Cairngorms (such as Our People of the Land, Our Nature Community and Our Biking and Shinty Community and Our Winter Community)– highlighting the places they love, what makes them proud to call the Cairngorms home and making these communities come to life for visitors.
Let’s hear from VisitCairngorm’s Jason Martin about the Year of Stories, and why you should get involved.
Our engagement with Year of Stories has been to highlight the 'Characters of the Cairngorms'. We wanted to champion our communities and show the connection and inspiration they have with the landscape of the Cairngorms National Park. With the aim of inspiring visitors to explore deeper, respect our landscape and find their own connections. Every good story has an emotive element that speaks to the heart, this was at the centre of our intention.
The Year of Stories is a great opportunity for communities and businesses to come together and share their stories with a wider audience. Stories are what connect us all, so tell your story in Scotland's Year of Stories.
Could there be a more apt themed year for Orkney than one focused on Stories? Destination Orkney and HIE Orkney has certainly made the most of the Year of Stories so far.
The brand new Discover Orkney’s Stories hero film perfectly portrays the importance of storytelling to the island, and entices visitors to gather round the imaginary hearth to find out more.
Discover Orkney's Stories
Discover Orkney's Stories
Throughout their content they’ve identified a range of strands, capturing as many Orkney tales as possible:
Let’s hear about the Year of Stories from Maureen Shearer, Project Manager of Orkney Marketing programme.
Storytelling has been part of life in Orkney for thousands of years, so we saw this Themed Year as a fantastic opportunity to share some of the stories that make the islands so special. From Viking sagas and tales from war-time, to the stories that have influenced Orcadian food, drink and crafts, we had a wealth of topics to focus on.
We put together a short film and blog featuring local people showcasing all the different stories found here, as well as some of our finest attractions. The aim was to promote the sites, but also to highlight that sense of mystery that surrounds them.
We wanted to touch on Orkney’s fantastic folklore too so we’ve been working with contributors to bring some of the tall tales told here to life, including a Viking’s Guide to Orkney based on the Orkneyinga Saga, and a look at some of the folklore elements of lesser-known attractions across the islands. We also helped promote a new George Mackay Brown Trail by creating a digital version of the route so people can see the places that inspired the much-loved Orcadian writer.
Scotland’s Themed Years are ideal for inspiring new content and also for getting that content seen by a wider audience. Everybody has a story to tell, whether it’s an accommodation provider or a food and drink producer, and we’d definitely encourage people to get involved and share their own.
South of Scotland Destination Alliance
For Scotland’s Year of Stories, the SSDA have invited future visitors to join them on a literary landscape of the South of Scotland.
To unveil the stories of their landscape, SSDA have created a wealth of interactive activity – bringing the myths, legends and stories of the South to life for visitors through new tourism product and marketing campaigns.
Their initial 6-month project for the Themed Years held 4 key areas of engagement:
Developing bookable experiences with 10 local businesses. This meant we could provide content for visitors wishing to have an immersive experience of the south’s literary connections. This included ‘Tales from the South of Scotland,’ an interactive 13-page PDF for the Travel Trade market
Creation of an Experience Guide to help other businesses develop their own experiences
Launch of three virtual and digital experiences; including two apps which showcase what archaeological sites Trimontium and Whithorn might have looked like, and a MineCraft Experience which is currently being finalised. These new platforms engage with fresh markets and extend traditional marketing reach
The production of seven new literary trails and a stories resource library. The latter aims to support tourism businesses and communities in developing their own literary tourism product.
Through the SSDA Year of Stories landing page, visitors can explore upcoming literary events and listen to local tales as told by local storytellers. For those looking for adventure, they can learn more about tours will lead them in the footsteps of iconic Scottish literary characters; such as The Robert Burns Driving route, Eyemouth and the Smugglers Trail walking trail, the John Buchan Way walking route, and much more.
Hear from Sarah MacDonald, Project Lead for the Stories Experience Collection at SSDA about the way Scotland’s Year of Stories has inspired their activity for 2022.
Historically the South of Scotland has been known for its storytelling from the 14th century Border Ballads to Burns and Scott. This has developed from not only being a location to inspire stories but also to celebrate them with Book Festivals, the centre of Children’s literature at Moat Brae as well as the location for Scotland’s Book Town: Wigtown.
The announcement that 2022 was Scotland’s Year of Stories gave us the impetus to further this ambition and inspired us to develop tourism products; for our claim to have credibility we needed bookable products so visitors to the region could have something to engage with. Working with ten key tourism partners in the South, all with links to literature and stories we created a wide range of products both for the Travel Trade and the independent visitor. The initial response has been incredibly positive and has inspired us further to run a marketing campaign “Stories Start Here”.
This is only the beginning; Our Stories Resource tool will allow local communities and tourism businesses to embrace the area’s literary strengths and develop their own story experiences. Our quality products will be an exemplar for others to follow.
Scotland’s themed year gave us the opportunity and confidence to promote our regions unique strengths and we are delighted to be involved.
Interested in getting involved?
There's still plenty time for you to get involved in the Themed Year. Here's some information and inspiration for how you can get involved with Scotland's Year of Stories, and share your story with future visitors.