In mid-September 2013, on 14th & 15th, Inveraray Castle will host the third Best of the West Festival – aka BOWfest.
This ‘family-friendly festival’ – and last year’s spectacular event copperfastened every syllable of this promise – will sample and showcase the best in food, drink, craft, music and entertainments from the West of Scotland.
Inveraray Castle, the West Highland’s pre-eminent must-visit castle, is a stunning venue. The imposing, turreted castle is, credibly, also a functional and functioning home.
It was built in the 1700s for the Dukes of Argyll. Its roof took something like two years worth of production from the lead mines at Strontian on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. It’s the prettiest of all Scotland’s castles and sits in glorious grounds on the edge of Loch Shira on Loch Fyne, surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of Argyll’s west coast.
To facilitate the siting of the new castle, the town of Inveraray was moved to its current location bestriding the two lochs, designed and built between 1772 and 1800 by the Edinburgh-born architect Robert Mylne.
BOWfest will take place in the grounds of the castle with the castle itself, the hills, the loch and the unique town of Inveraray as its backdrop. Beat that.
After the success of last year’s festival and its riveting music programe, no one would have let the organisers away without bringing back the world’s hot-Scots, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers – and, dutifully, they are booked to headline the Sunday programme.
Before Saturday feels a bit out of it, Skerryvore will highlight the programme on that day.
The line up as a whole has over 70 musicians – with music ranging from world-famous bands to local pipe bands, young talent, Gaelic, traditional and more modern.
The food and drink
Visitors move fluidly between the music-and-bar tent, and the suppliers’ tent, with the best of Argyll’s produce, food products and visitor services on show. The brand-leading Food from Argyll Team will be providing local food to eat, sample and take home, including local food suppliers and award winning brands including Inverawe Smokehouse, Loch Fyne Oysters and Fyne Ales. There will be something for everyone, from oysters to beef, tablet to salmon, whisky to ale.
Then there’s the whisky tent – where the Best of the West Whiskies pitts all 22 West Coast Distillers against each other in a light-hearted ‘people’s tasting’.
Part of the festival entertainment will also include foraging. Mark Williams, from Galloway Wild Foods, will introduce the delights of foraging for delicious ‘free’ foods all growing around us – focusing on how to find, identify, harvest and eat them.
The family focus
Returning to the festival’s offer to families, Best of the West will have a huge amount to keep all the family busy. Included in the children’s ticket will be unlimited access to a host of special entertainments including a four-sided climbing wall, a laser blast arena, bungee trampolines [these were magic even to watch last year], children’s workshops, face painting, a supervised play area, storytelling and much more to make this a great family day out.
For the adventurous, Geocaching is a new addition for 2013. Hugely popular, this real-life treasure hunt will lead you around the stunning grounds of Inveraray Castle, searching for hidden treasure using GPS enabled devices.
Scotland and Argyll are renowned for artists and craftsfolk. Best of the West will deliver just that. The craft tent will feature Harris Tweed, plants and flowers, pottery including the award-winning Loch Long Stoneware range, jewellery, paintings, photography, glassware, interior design – all created and inspired by the West Coast.
BOWfest When the children have gone to bed, the spirit of the day passes to the town, to Inveraray’s George Hotel with more music, food and fine West Highland hospitality.
Argyll and the Isles
The West of Scotland has an almost endless menu of delights to offer tourists, commercial interests, corporates and residents. Golf, whisky, castles, lochs, clan seats, history, landscape, coastline, activities, hotels, restaurants…
Argyll and The Isles Tourism will be a potent presence at the Festival, foregrounding the best in an inspirational county where we are all spoiled for choice.
Mike Story, CEO of Argyll and The Isles Tourism, says, ‘This is a fantastic event which showcases the very best of what our area does so well, combining great music with world-class food and drink and some of the best outdoor activities, all set in the grounds of the historic Inveraray Castle.
‘Our aim is to hear, taste, smell and feel the best of Argyll on the banks of Loch Fyne.
We picked Inveraray due to its proximity to the central belt where we will concentrate our marketing and because of the popularity of last year’s Best of the West Festival, where we entertained 6,000 people with the best our region has to offer.
‘Once again, a huge thanks to the Duke and Duchess for their generosity and community spirit, and getting stuck in at every level. Gifting the castle grounds provides us with an amazing venue to welcome friends and visitors from near and far.
‘We have had real sponsorship and support from Machrihanish Dunes, Chivas Brothers Ltd, Natural Retreats, West Coast Motors, Crerar Hotels, AITC, Inveraray Marketing Group, Argyll Adventure, Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, Inveraray Jail, Caledonian MacBrayne, The Loch Fyne Whisky Shop and many others.
This has enabled us to put such a great show together and really demonstrate how amazing Argyll and the Isles really are.’