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News and articles from our featured castles.

Traquair Springs into Action with a New Ale this Season

Traquair is celebrating a new season this year with the launch of a thirst quenching “Spring Ale”. With an ABV 4.2%, it is the lightest of Traquair’s ales yet, produced from the tiny ancient brewery at Traquair House.

“We are trialling this new ale for the Spring and so far the response has been brilliant. Traquair Ales are often on the stronger side for many people’s tastes, 
so this ale is aimed at a wider audience", commented Catherine Maxwell Stuart,
21st Lady of Traquair.

The  recipe is devised from an earlier cask ale brewed for the Referendum in 2014 and
has a hint of coriander, but also has the distinctive taste of all Traquair’s
ales, derived from their fermentation in oak tuns – the only brewery left in the UK continuing to use this ancient method of brewing.

Traquair also has a new head brewer, Frank Smith, who has finally achieved the top job after 25 years at the brewery! He is responsible for the new ale and thinks it will be repeated in future years if capacity allows. Last year, the brewery increased its production through purchasing two new conditioning tanks and is looking to increase sales in Scotland and the UK. The brewery currently exports nearly 70% of its production  to the US, Canada, Japan, Italy and France

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2018 Open Championship - Carnoustie

Carnoustie is a small town on the Angus coast between Dundee and Arbroath, famed for its championship golf course. In 2018 The Open Championship will return to the Carnoustie Golf Links Course.

The Championship Course has hosted seven Open Championships, one Ladies Open and one Seniors Open, making it one of the very few to have done so in the UK.

Held from 16 to 22 July 2018, this will be the 147th Open Championship and the world's best golfers will gather to compete for the famous Claret Jug on one of the best links courses in Scotland.

Accommodation in the area is in very high demand and, as such, we recommend that you book this as soon as you can to avoid disappointment.

We have a selection of castle experiences to enhance your golfing package:

Dairsie Castle
A unique self-catering property sleeps up to 14 guests, located just 40 minutes' drive from Carnoustie.

Dalmunzie Castle
1.25 hours from the course, Dalmunzie Castle can offer dinner, bed and breakfast accommodation in 17 bedrooms. The hotel has a golf course attached for those who wish to enjoy a round themselves in addition to spectating!

Fasque Castle
A luxurious, exclusive-use castle, sleeping up to 38 adults, 50 minutes from the Carnoustie Golf Links Course.

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Looking for an alternative to the traditional wedding?

Image courtesy of: Michael Dean of Baltimore, Maryland, United States.

Looking for an alternative to the traditional wedding?

Have you considered a traditional Celtic Handfasting ceremony?

A Handfasting ceremony is not recognised as a legal marriage ceremony, however in Scotland, the celebrant is authorised by the Registrar General, so officially recognised for Scottish couples. In the wider community, the handfasting ceremony can be used to strengthen your vows or to show commitment to your married relationship.

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition that involved tying the hands of the betrothed together. This type of ceremony is very popular in Scotland and Ireland.

The tying together of hands with a ribbon or sash and exchanging of vows is believed to date back to late Medieval times deriving from the Old Norse; hand-festa. Handfasting then represented the betrothal (or engagement to be married) of the intended couple, not the actual marriage itself.

Today the ceremonies are tailored to the wishes of the celebrant couple and can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish.

Several of our Scottish and Irish castles are happy to offer this traditional ceremony, which blends nicely with the castle theme.

Featured Castle: Culzean Castle, Ayrshire, ScotlandFeatured Castle: Glenapp Castle, AyrshireScotland

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Tulloch Castle Festive Fayre - Book Now!

We are delighted to be able to offer you details of Tulloch Castle's newly-released packages for Christmas and New year 2017.

Tulloch Castle, located in the Scottish Highlands, is a rich, historic castle which still retains many original features. It even boasts a resident ghost!

Two separate three-night meal-inclusive packages are available to guests over both the Christmas and New Year periods. The packages sell out early every year, as demand exceeds supply, so if want to be sure of a 'room at the inn' this coming Christmas or New Year, you'll need to act quickly and take advantage of these early-released packages.

Here are a few snippets of what you can expect at Tulloch Castle across the festive season...

Roaring open fires
Historic castle tours
Bucks Fizz breakfasts
A five course Christmas Day lunch
Highland dancers
Traditional Scottish pipers
A gala Hogmanay dinner
Lazy brunches
Treasure hunts and quizzes
And perhaps even a visit from the infamous 'Green Lady'!

Three-night packages start at £570 for two guests over Christmas and £648 for two guests over New Year.

For details of the full packages, click on the links below:

Celebrate Christmas at Tulloch Castle
Celebrate New Year at Tulloch Castle

You'll need to act quickly if you'd like to make a booking at this 12th century castle...rooms are already selling fast!

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Saint Patrick and Turin Castle

Turin Castle, Ireland, is a magnificent example of a Medieval square towered fortress. It was erected by the powerful De Burgo family, who controlled a huge swathe of territory across the principality of Mayo and Galway. The castle is now privately owned and let out for self-catering castle heritage holidays.

The De Burgos, who later became the Burkes or Bourkes, controlled this huge kingdom through a network of strategically placed castles, which also protected their trade routes to Lough Corrib and Galway.

The orientation of Turin Castle, Ireland, is significant, as was common with important Medieval buildings of the time; it was built with deference to an astronomical event or sacred landmark, in this case it was the latter. In the north-west corner of the building, there is a small room with a lancet opening at floor level. This small window can only be looked through at floor level, necessitating one to assume a kneeling position, and is aligned with the summit of Croagh Patrick, the sacred mountain of St Patrick.

The Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre, Teach na Miasa, is situated in Murrisk on the Pilgrim's path at the base of Croagh Patrick mountain and opposite the National Famine Monument.

According to the Book of Armagh ’Patrick proceeded to Mons Aigi (Croagh Patrick) intending to fast there for forty days and forty nights following the example of Moses, Elias and Christ’. Legend has it that St Patrick returned to Ireland in 441 AD on a mission to convert the Pagan Irish to Christianity. To achieve this aim, he would first have to demonstrate his God’s superiority over the ancient beliefs and superstitions of the natives. This was no mean feat; Irish beliefs were inextricably linked to nature, the cosmos and mountains, especially of the conical variety were viewed as immensely spiritual places - in this case the domain of Lugh, the all-powerful Sun God. The Christian interpretation of Patrick’s sojourn on the mountain became an epic battle between God and the Devil in the shape of hordes of tormenting demons with good eventually triumphing over evil.

On two days of the year, 18 April and 24 August 24, a most incredible phenomenon known as the rolling sun can be witnessed. If the summit of the mountain is clear, the sun can be observed to set on the peak and then appear to roll down the north-west flank of the mountain. This is best observed from a deliberately calibrated setting, called the Boheh stone. The stone, also known as St Patrick’s chair, is positioned in a natural stone outcrop located on the eastern slope of Croagh Patrick, close to the village of Brackloon. The stone is profusely carved with bronze-age motifs covering virtually its entire area.

Turin Castle is located in the barony of Kilmaine. Kilmaine is derived from the old Irish Cill meaning church and Mhean meaning middle. It is believed that St Patrick established three churches in Kilmaine.

The area in St Patrick’s time was controlled by the Cuil Toladh tribe and the presence of two major iron-age hill-forts, Lisantreanduff and Rausakeera, would suggest that it was of great significance. Lisantreaduff would have dominated the surrounding landscape and was probably the largest structure of its type in County Mayo. Rausakeera, although smaller, was still sufficiently impressive to warrant its adoption by the De Burgos/Burkes as an inauguration site for their Chieftains from the 12th century onwards.

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The Castle Man's Top 3 Dungeon Experiences in Castles

There is something special about eating in a dungeon, especially when you have the keys to get out!

In the quiet village of Thornbury, beneath the stalwart walls of its Tudor castle, the 16th century dungeon plays host to a bonded wine cellar, now opened to adventurous diners who are seeking a very special & intimate ‘wine & dine’ experience. You can be imprisoned by candlelight with your favourite people around you, surrounded by an award-winning wine collection from some of the best artisan winemakers and estates in the world.

There are styles and regions to suit every palate and pocket – the castle's talented sommelier will help with your choices to create an enchanting evening. Alongside amazing wines, the chef will design an equally sensational menu to enhance your wine choices and ensure the perfect balance is created.

Thornbury Castle offers guests a rare and intimate opportunity to spend a decadent evening in a Tudor dungeon, to create lasting memories with friends, family or perhaps to impress your most prestigious clients. You may just wish to pop the question as romantic! A three-course meal and matched wines starts from £85 per person. Maximum party size of eight people. Available from May until September.

Heading across the border to Scotland, you come across one of the largest dungeon restaurants at Dalhousie Castle in Edinburgh. Situated in the bowls of the castle, this used to be the entrance to the castle and has high ancient barrel-vaulted rooms. Yes rooms; there is a lot of space in this area of the castle, and you can seat up 20 people in one of the vaulted areas. It is just as nice for individual tables for two and is a very romantic area in candle-light.

The rich ingredients and exquisitely presented creations are befitting of such an elaborate location, with dishes that include roast partridge with a purée soubise, served with creamed haricots blancs and pickled girolle mushrooms. Elsewhere on the menu, try loin of pork with crackling and apple and bramble compote, or the aromatic cod with pak choi, smoked mussels and lemongrass sauce. Dessert is the award-winning confection of white chocolate and vanilla parfait with pistachio sponge, meringue and griottine cherries. 

The dining experience fits the back drop of this 13th-century fortress on the banks of the River Esk. Following dinner you can climb the stone steps to the library and sit beside the fire for a coffee or liqueur before retiring for the night. Two courses from £42.50 / three courses from £49.50 per person.

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Lumley Castle Wedding for Two Package

Located in the North of England, with its stone walls, knights in shining armour and authentic historic feel, Lumley Castle is a truly special option for your big (or little!) day. The packages below are perfect for a wonderful intimate wedding.

The Feature Package 

Feature bedrooms are located both in the courtyard and castle and give you an opportunity to make yous stay extra special. Many of the rooms have four-poster beds, feature baths or you may find little surprises like discovering your bathroom behind the wardrobe door!

The package includes:

Room hire;

Private bar;

Order of the day;

Chair covers;

Use of CD player;

Bottle of Champagne and two engraved flutes;

Overnight accommodation in a Feature bedroom with dinner (allocation of £39 per person);

Full English breakfast the following morning.

Total Price: £850

The King James Package

The King James Suite offers a remarkable experience. The suite includes a magnificent 20ft high four-poster Queen Ann bed and reception room. Formerly the chapel of the castle, it boasts its own lounge area, en-suite bathroom and Jacuzzi bath.​​The package includes the following:

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The Castle Wine Cellars at Ashford Castle

Gone are the days when, if you were a servant at Ashford Castle, you would have to enter the castle near thebridge and walk through what was originally a coal bunker and walkway underneath the castle. As you passed through, you would fill up a coal bucket to take up to the rooms upstairs to heat the castle. Thankfully today thecastle has a modern heating system and staff no longer enter the castle from underneath!

These 16th century tunnels have now been transformed and they provide three unique private spaces with a cosy ambience and soft lighting. These are now the Wine Cellars at Ashford Castle and offer private wine tastings and wonderful wine dinners in the secret passageways of the castle, which were unearthed during recent renovations. You can enjoy what feels like a 'dungeon' dining experience. Do not mix this up with the airy Dungeon Restaurant on the lower ground floor of the castle, with its bistro-style menu focusing on traditional Irish cuisine beneath its historic curved stone ceiling.

The extensive wine list has been carefully selected by the castle’s knowledgeable sommelier, where you can sample a fine selection of vintages and a choice of new and old world wines in this remarkable setting. A Coravin system is used for tasting expensive bottles of wine, without having to take the cork out, keeping the wine fresh for longer. You can sample wines from €8 per glass up to €4,500 per bottle.

If you want to hear more about the Wine Cellars, make sure you speak to Robert Bowe, who has worked at AshfordCastle for over 30 years; it has been his dream to transform these since he first started working at the castle in the1980s.

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2017 Great Value Self Catering Castle Breaks

Belle Isle Castle (shown above) 

If you’re planning a break for 2017, one of our self-catering castles can provide an authentic castle experience, without necessarily breaking the bank!
Below are some of the best value venues to get your started…


Craufurdland Castle is located in Ayrshire, Scotland, south of Glasgow and ten miles from the west coast. The castle dates back to 1245, making it ones of the oldest in the area.

Craufurdland sleeps up to 16 people in 6 individual bedrooms and also features a barrel-vaulted hall, a fully equipped kitchen (with unusually shaped windows), utility room, drawing room and a dining room with a table to seat up to 16 adults. As an interesting historical feature, you can see the remains of a secret passageway in the Laird’s room.

Despite being within such easy reach of Glasgow, the castle is located within its own estate which is great for fishing, walks or mountain-biking. There are also a number of golf clubs within easy access.

At low season you can book a week long stay at Craufurdland for 16 adults for a mere £1970! That works out at a little under £16 per person per night! The weekly rate rises to £2740 during high season, but that still works out at superb value for 16 adults.

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Have you booked your 2017 vacation yet?

The presents have been unwrapped, Christmas chocolates have been eaten, the tree is all packed away, along with the obligatory Christmas jumper, and here we are at the start of a new year...

Happy New Year from all of the Celtic Castles team…..if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to start planning your 2016 holiday.

Did you know that you can stay in a castle every night of your holiday, from 1 night to a whole month or even longer? The Tours Team at Celtic Castles can tailor make a self-drive castle tour itinerary to suit your requirements. Just tell us your intended date of travel, where you’d most like to visit and we will do the rest. All you need to do is take care of the flights, car hire and insurance and then we will take care of all of your accommodation bookings.

We have a whole area of our site dedicated to castle tours, featuring 2-night mini-breaks to full castle tours. 

Tours can be tailor-made to your particular requirements, adding or reducing night/s, room upgrades and dinner add-on's to create your perfect vacation.

What’s more, our service is completely free. We’ll even give you a call to discuss your requirements before suggesting an itinerary best suited to you.

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