What will you do in Inverness?

Inverness is the long-established heart of the Highlands and sits astride the River Ness. Just 30 minutes away from the famous Loch Ness, Inverness has a whole host of things to do and events. For those looking for a city break, it is perfect with its bars, restaurants and shopping areas. And for those looking to revel in Mother Nature’s wonders, Loch Ness and its stunning landscapes is just 30 minutes away.

Inverness is buzzing throughout the year with annual events that bring visitors from far and wide. Here are some of the events happening in Inverness during 2023. Which one will you be attending?

Inverness Music Festival

February 24th-26th & March 3rd-6th

This festival is an opportunity for all ages and all stages of amateur performers to showcase their skills. Activities include music, dancing, poetry and drama. The festival’s motto is ‘Performance for everyone and they give everyone the opportunity to work on their performances in a supportive environment. Whatever performance you want to share, there will be something for you at this fabulous festival – culminating in a Festival Concert on March 18th. Take a look at the highlights from 2022, featuring performances and compositions across a wide range of events.

Getting Active

For those who like to be active and enjoy competing in races and marathons, Inverness is host to a variety of events for you.

14th-15th January 2023 – Strathpuffer 24

A 24-hour mountain bike challenge that is not for the faint-hearted! Mountain bike challenges really don’t come much tougher or more rewarding than the Strathpuffer. This is a legendary 24-hour mountain-bike endurance event held every year in the Highlands of Scotland. You can expect freezing temperatures, gruelling terrain, mud, snow and, if you are lucky, a glorious Highland sunrise! But what a challenge! The event started in 2005 and was meant to be a one-off. Now the event attracts mountain bike lovers from around the globe.

12th March 2023 – Inverness Half Marathon

If you’re looking for a spring challenge to train for and keep you motivated, the Inverness half marathon could be perfect for you. The popular race follows a scenic route through the Inverness and along the banks of the River Ness. If you’re looking for something a little shorter or are new to running, why not give the Inverness 5k a try? The route is flat and scenic, and, like the half marathon, runs along the banks of the river through Inverness.

23rd April 2023 – Etape Loch Ness

This is a cycle sportive that takes place around iconic Loch Ness. It offers the chance to cycle 66 miles (106 km) on traffic-free roads. It is a 360° closed-road route that starts at the riverside in Bught Park and takes in the loch, with some stunning scenery along the way. You can register your interest for 2023 on the Etape website.

26th May-4th June 2023 – Loch Ness Festival

Originally called the Loch Ness Challenge, the Loch Ness Festival is being rebranded for 2023. The inaugural event in 2022 was an event that was been hailed a must for trail runners and mountain bikers alike. Held over three days, there were 3 marathons for people to take part in. The 2023 will include adventuring as before but, will also treat festivalgoers to comedy shows, live music, food and drink, tours and much more. You can register for the adventuring and keep an eye open for the full event announcement on their website.

26th-27th August 2023 – Loch Ness 24

The Loch Ness 24 is a brand new 24hr solo or team relay trail running race on the banks of the world’s most famous Loch. This is the ultimate endurance challenge. How many laps will you be able to clock up? The route takes in the most spectacular trails through ancient Scots pine forest and along the beaches of Loch Ness. As well as challenging yourself to keep going, you’ll be able to soak up the camaraderie at the event village and camp out under the stars in the most iconic location.

camping under the stars

1st October 2023 – Loch Ness Marathon

Whether you are new to running, a jogger, a runner or an athlete, the Loch Ness Marathon has an event for you. Choose from the full marathon, a 10k, a 5k or the Wee Nessie (for kids 5 and under). Whatever you choose, you will be taking part in one of the most scenic marathons in the world. You can run for charity or just for the hell of it! Take a look at the highlights from 2021, it looks fab!

The Gathering

27th May 2023

The Gathering is a one-day festival celebrating the best music, culture, food and drink from the Highlands and Scotland. The line up for 2023 looks amazing featuring the Tide Lines, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Beinn Lee and Hannah Rarity, to name but a few, with more acts to be announced. You can buy tickets on the Skiddle website and subscribe to the mailing list for The Gathering 2023 on their website. The perfect event for a real taste of Scotland!

The National Whisky Festival: Inverness Edition

1st July 2023

Since its inaugural event in 2015, The National Whisky Festival of Scotland has established itself as one of the most exciting exhibitions of uisge-beatha – growing from a single tasting into a popular series of festivals across the country. With over 200 whiskies to sample from some of the most celebrated names in the industry, and an extensive programme of award-winning mixology, local food vendors, cutting edge musicians and live artists – The National Whisky Festival experience is fast becoming a must-do for any whisky-lover.

Inverness Highland Games

15th July 2023

Save the date for the Highland Games in Inverness! As iconically Scottish as bagpipes, kilts and whisky. This is the perfect event to celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture, heritage and celebration. Events such as Tossing the Caber, the Hammer Throw, Tug O’War and Shot Put show the strength of the competitors while the crowd roar their encouragement. Highland game events have been a part of Scotland’s culture for hundreds of years and are just as popular today as they’ve ever been.

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival

27th-29th July 2023

The Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival is a ‘mooosic’ and arts festival that is held on the beautiful Belladrum Estate near Beauly. Founded in 2004, the festival has rapidly grown in popularity. It has recently been voted UK’s Most Popular Summer Music Festival.

With fantastic music across various genres, as well as a brilliant array of children’s entertainment, street theatre, cabaret, cinema, alternative therapies and food and drink, it is perfect for all of the family. Here’s a video of the highlights from 2019 – it looks amazing!

Black Isle Show

2nd-3rd August 2023

The Black Isle Show is an annual event held on the showground at the Muir of Ord. Hailed as the largest agricultural show in the north, it includes displays of farm animals, farm trades and a wide variety of trade stands selling local produce and food. It has the tagline of ‘all the fun of the farm’ and included monster trucks in the exhibitions for 2022. It’s a great day out for all the family with displays, food and drink, dancing, singing and more!

Moy Country Fair

4th-5th August

A non-profit organisation established in 1977, Moy Country Fair is a day out for all the family. The Games are hosted annually at the scenic Moy Hall courtesy of Celia Mackintosh of Mackintosh on the first Friday and Saturday of August.

There will be Pipe Bands, Birds of Prey demonstrations, Tug of War, Gundog and Fishing demonstrations, a pets parade, and Foxhounds and Terrier racing. You can try your hand at a range of activities like clay pigeon shooting, archery and catapults. For the kids, there are donkey rides, a bouncy castle, face painting and the Junior McNab! A fun-packed day for everyone!

As well as all of these events, Inverness is a wonderful city to just wander round, soaking up the history and enjoying the architecture. Or, you could go for a spot of shopping at the Victorian Market or Eastgate shopping centre. How about a whisky distillery tour or maybe you fancy your chances as a Nessie hunter? Inverness has so much to offer you, make sure you visit soon!