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Edinburgh Castle and other iconic heritage sites in Lothian set to open their doors for free this winter

Posted: 12th September 2023

  • Access to Historic Scotland winter ticketed attractions will be free on the first Sunday of each month from October 2023 – March 2024.

Some of the most iconic heritage sites in Edinburgh and across the Lothians, such as Edinburgh, Tantallon and Craigmillar Castles, and Linlithgow Palace, will welcome visitors with free admission this winter. Edinburgh and Lothian residents are invited to explore the area’s rich heritage with Historic Environment Scotland’s (HES) Historic Sundays.

For six months, HES will offer free admission to participating Historic Scotland visitor attractions,  which is part of Historic Environment Scotland, on the first Sunday of the month (1 October 2023 through to 3 March 2024). People living in Scotland can access Historic Scotland winter ticketed sites by simply pre-booking online and showing their proof of address on arrival.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES, said: “With over 5,000 years of history in our care, our historic buildings and monuments can tell us so much about the past, and how it continues to shape our world today, from being the backdrop to film locations to attracting millions of people from around the world and closer to home.

“We think it’s vital people living in Scotland feel history belongs to us all, and through our Historic Sundays initiative we hope more people will take the opportunity to discover the history on their doorstep, or explore further afield to sites they may not have seen until now. Engaging with heritage has lots of proven benefits, including well-being, and we very much hope people take the opportunity to explore these sites and be part of history.”

Within Edinburgh, discover the world-famous Edinburgh Castle which dominates the city’s skyline and remains an active military base, and see the different architectural styles of Craigmillar Castle as different owners made the castle their own, adding to the structure throughout the centuries.

Further afield in East Lothian, see the herbaceous borders and formal Victorian garden at Dirleton Castle and Gardens, a stronghold for noble families for 400 years, and visit Tantallon Castle, set high atop a cliff overlooking the Forth.

And in West Lothian, visit the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots at Linlithgow Palace, and learn why Blackness Castle is also known as ‘the ship that never sailed’.

Across Scotland, the winter Historic Scotland sites which ordinarily charge an entry fee include Edinburgh Castle; the medieval grounds of Arbroath Abbey; Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots; the historic barracks and fortifications of Fort George; and Skara Brae, the best-preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe.

Advance booking is required. To book, and for a list of participating Historic Scotland sites, visit

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