A few out of season attractions in East Lothian
East Lothian is a beautiful place to visit year round and because it is mainly coastal winters are often surprisingly mild.
- Geese – Every autumn around 30,000 pink-footed geese migrate to Aberlady Bay. Numbers peak in October and November as some of the birds use the Bay as a refuelling point before some of them move on to other parts of the UK. Every morning the geese leave the Bay for their feeding grounds and return at dusk. This is a truly incredible (and rather noisy) sight.
- Golf - The Courses benefit from East Lothian's good winter climate and normal tees and greens are used throughout the winter apart from in extreme weather conditions. There are usually winter offers available.
- Gannets – Bass Rock is home to 150,000 gannets in the peak season, the world’s largest colony. The gannets spend most of their year on Bass Rock – from early March until the end of October. You can often see them diving from the shore but a boat trip from North Berwick is the best way to see them properly. With a wing span of over 6ft it is a truly incredible sight to see these birds diving and swooping overhead.
- Seals – Grey seals can be spotted all year round in East Lothian. However, there are many more in October and November, when they give birth to their pups. The seals haul up in large numbers at low tide at both ends of the Isle of May, and can also be seen swimming at the base of the West Cliffs, as well as Craigleith and the Bass Rock. Again a boat trip from North Berwick is a good way to get a close look.
- Puffins - Often called the ‘clown of the sea’ the puffin is an unmistakable seabird with a black back and white underparts, distinctive black head with large pale cheeks and brightly-coloured bill. Their comical appearance is heightened by red and black eye markings and bright orange legs. Adults arrive back at the breeding colonies in March and April and leave again in early-August. You’ll see them on the Isle of May, Fidra, Craigleith and occasionally in the stone walls of the historic ramparts on the Bass Rock. Again a boat trip from North Berwick is a good way to get a close look. Special boat trips are run in Spring to just see the puffins as part of Puffinfest.
- Watersports – For the more-able watersports enthusiast the winter months mean bigger swell and therefore great conditions for surfing, kite surfing, kayaking and sailing. The Firth is sheltered so sailing can be carried out in relatively calm seas for most of the year. For the less experienced a trip to Longniddry Bents on a windy day is a great spot to watch the kitesurfers leaping metres in the air and also to have some fish and chips as you watch (all while sitting in the warmth of your car!).
- Christmas shopping – East Lothian is a great place to visit for your Christmas shopping. The local towns have numerous gift shops, perfect for finding more unusual gifts. The towns and villages are also decorated with Christmas trees and lights throughout December and there is often carol singing at the weekends. There are of course many cafes and restaurants which are ideal for taking a break and enjoying a well earned hot drink and mince pie.
- Guy Fawkes night – also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire night and Firework Night, this is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure. Aberady has a one of East Lothian’s best fireworks displays and also a bonfire each year on the nearest weekend to the 5th of November. There are also hot food and hot wine stalls.
- Hogmanay – Many of the pubs and restaurants in East Lothian host dinners and ceilidhs to celebrate Hogmanay. Musselburgh has a particularly full Hogmanay programme each year with a lantern parade, music, theatre, a ceilidh and fireworks.
- Burns night – 25th January each year. East Lothian is a great place to celebrate Burn’s night with plenty of Burn’s suppers and ceilidhs (traditional Scottish live music and dance) throughout the county. You can hear some Burn’s poetry and enjoy a traditional meal of haggis, neeps and tatties alongside a wee dram. Most should be booked in advance.