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Aberdeenshire cultural attractions

Whether you prefer to see a cathedral or a museum, we’ve captured Aberdeenshire’s best arts and culture destinations. St Andrew’s Cathedral in King Street was the first commission of Aberdeen architect, Archibald Simpson, who designed the chapel to seat 1,200.  If your forte is military history, The Gordon Highlanders Museum takes you from the Napoleonic wars to the modern day. Aberdeen Maritime Museum in Provost Ross’s House on the Shiprow was created to tell the story of Aberdeen’s maritime history, including the impact of its newest industry – North Sea oil. The Tolbooth Museum is one of the oldest buildings in Aberdeen, and includes 17th-century gaols. This museum traces Aberdeen’s civic history and the history of its crime and punishment.

If exploring the countryside is for you, head out into Aberdeenshire and delve into Scotland’s castle country. Why not visit the striking Crathes Castle and its neighbour Craigievar Castle – both with magnificent painted ceilings – or take in Castle Fraser with its historic furnishings, paintings and fine embroidery? A must for film buffs is the dramatic clifftop ruins of Dunnottar Castle, just south of Aberdeen, near Stonehaven, where Mel Gibson filmed his version of Hamlet.

For Royal fans Balmoral, the Royal Family’s castle on Deeside, on the A93 west of Ballater, is open from April to the end of July. And for literary aficionados a visit to Slains Castle, inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is a ‘must see’, as is a visit to the Lewis Grassic Gibbon Centre at Arbuthnott from March to October to discover the history behind one of Scotland’s literary heroes whose legacy is A Scots Quair. The entire city and shire is a photographer’s dream with some spectacular scenery with mountain, glen and seascape.

Our picks

Milton Art Gallery

Milton of Crathes, Banchory AB31 5QH

Milton Art Gallery was established in 1997 to promote and support local and Scottish artists, exhibiting an eclectic mix of art for all tastes and budgets. A constantly changing collection from established artists complemented by regular exhibitions. A wide range of workshops are available in ceramics, photography, painting and Annie Sloan techniques. Visit website

The Barn
Piano playing

The Barn, Burn O Bennie, Banchory AB31 5QA

The Barn provides an ambitious and inclusive cultural programme encompassing music, theatre, film, dance, comedy, talks, visual art, workshops and environmental projects. It also supports artists, makers and designers to research and create artwork inspired by its location and context. The Barn is based just 30 minutes from Aberdeen in the beautiful Deeside countryside, between Crathes Castle and Banchory. There is also a Wild Garden behind the Barn for the community to enjoy and some walking paths around the wider site. For a coffee or something to eat, you can visit the neighbours at Buchanan Bistro, who specialise in local produce. Visit website

Blairs Museum
Mary Queen of Scots

South Deeside Road, Blairs, Aberdeen AB12 5YQ

Visit Blairs Museum and explore a stunning collection of fine and decorative art spanning more than 500 years. Highlights include rare portraits of Mary Queen of Scots and the Stuart family, Jacobite memorabilia, sacred silver and gold and beautiful embroidered church textiles. Visit website

Haddo House
Haddo House

Methlick, Ellon AB41 7EQ

Designed by Scottish architect William Adam in 1732, Haddo House is a magnificent example of an historic Scottish stately home. Originally Palladian in style, the house now has late Victorian interiors after a 19th century refurbishment and is renowned for its stunning decorated ceilings. It also has impressive collections of period furniture, ceramics and art, including paintings by Sir Thomas Lawrence and James Giles. Visit website

Little Treasures
Vintage dolls

B993, Kemnay, Inverurie AB51 5PR

Little Treasures is delightful collection of vintage and modern toys, miniatures and over 350 dolls houses displayed in a beautiful, light space in the former Methodist church in Banff. The museum is packed with exhibits, from toy cars to Barbies to vintage tinplate to elements of a Victorian childhood and so much more. Visit website

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Aberdeenshire attractions

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Image credits: ©Bernd Rehorst/Denys Kuvaiev/Georgios Kollidas/mcKensa/Olena Makovey/; Clark Young/Unsplash

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