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Here are 9 magical highlights of the Oban Winter Festival

We highlight the best attractions for visitors and residents planning on attending the popular event.

McCaig's Tower will be lit up during the festival.
Oban will be full of light as the winter festival gets under way. Image: Markus Lange/imageBROKER/Shutterstock.

If you want to get into the festive spirit, Oban’s Winter Festival has something for everyone.

The festival starts on November 18, and, with so much on offer, we have gone through the programme for the spectacular 10-day event and selected nine top picks.

A spokeswoman for the Oban Winter Festival 2023 organising team thanked everyone who was taking part.

She said: “The support from the community for the Winter Festival is amazing.”

“Anyone can be involved. We put out a note to everyone and advertise that we are putting a programme together.

“This year it is some 40 pages long.

“One of our founder members, Eleanor MacKinnon, sent me the first year’s programme and there was one page.

“What an achievement.”

The event was set up to help people who were not able to get to the bigger light shows and Christmas markets in Glasgow and Edinburgh experience the festive season.

Storm the giant sea goddess.
Storm, the giant sea goddess, brought spectacle and an urgent message to the people of Scotland. Supplied by Vision Mechanics /Murdo Macleod.

The spokeswoman added: “Oban Winter Festival is on a smaller scale in Oban, but it is just as spectacular.

“It also brings many people to the town and helps drive spending in the area out of season.”

1. Breeze – the ‘little sister of Storm’ – and Opening Parade

The organising team have even scooped the little sister of  “Storm”, a large-scale puppet that delighted watchers across the north in 2021.

Makers have named the puppet “Breeze” ahead of her first big event, as she heads the festival’s opening parade on Friday.

She was created from recycled rubbish during two workshops held in the town in October.

She will lead off the parade as a “light bringer” as she moves through the town from 4.45pm business and householders on the route will light up their buildings.

Breeze is made from recycled items and was designed by Vision Mechanics.

Obana Samba Band will also be taking part in the parade.

Everyone attending is being asked to bring a torch.

There will be an adult and child dress-up competition for the best costume made from
recycled/upcycled items. Judging starts at 4.15pm.

Following a short stay at Station Square, Breeze will be transported once
around the town and then be taken to Glencruitten Woods where she will
remain for the Winter Woods events.

2. Bring your wellies for the Winter Woods

Glencruitten Woods will be lit up for an event that draws together storytelling with an impressive light show.

The organising team said there will even be a “secret” surprise in store for visitors.

Visitors will be able to marvel at the amazing installations made from upcycled/recycled
materials created by individuals, community groups and schools, turning the woods into a gallery of imagination, light and sound.

Ticket numbers are limited for the event that takes place in an ancient woodland to the east of the town.

Everyone participating is taken to the woods by minibus.

The event is on this weekend and next, and you need to book in advance.

You and your family will be whisked to the woods from Oban Town Centre by volunteer mini-bus drivers. There is no parking at the woods.

Organisers reminded anyone attending that they will need to wrap up warmly, and given the rainfall over the last few weeks to remember to wear wellies or other suitable footwear.

Tickets, costing £7 for adults and £4 for children over two, can be booked online.

3. Christmas Markets ‘highlights’ of Oban Winter Festival 2023

Get your reusable carrier bag at the ready, there are a few Christmas Markets that are a must-see during the festival.

Oban Distillery building, where Oban Winter Festival 2023 Markets will be held.
The Oban Distillery is the venue for Christmas Markets in the town. Image: Sandy McCook/ DC Thomson.

Saturday November 18  and Saturday November 25

Markets are held between 10am and 4pm. Venues that are often not seen by the public are opened up to visitors.

The markets can be found in Oban Distillery – which also features a food market –
the Bank Garage on Stevenson Street, and in the Corran Halls where soup is being served.

4. Oban Fire Station celebrating 20 years

It seems like yesterday that it was officially opened, so there is cause for celebration that Oban Community Fire Station is hosting an open day during the winter festival.

On Saturday November 18, from 1pm to 5pm, local crews will be putting on demonstrations alongside Oban’s other emergency services.

But the big draw for kids, and grown-ups, will be the chance to “meet” Diesel the Fire Service and the area’s urban search and rescue dog.

Grown-ups should be aware that they might go for fun, and leave with a job as police, fire and other services are hoping to recruit into their ranks.

5. Time for a big tune?

The Big Tune is back for its winter edition.

Bring your instruments and join in at the Rockfield Centre’s second all-day session celebrating the best of Scottish cèilidh music.

Every room will be filled with incredible musicians sharing a tune.

The exterior of the Rockfield Centre, where many of the events in the Oban Winter Festival are being held.
The Rockfield Centre in Oban is the venue for the Big Tune. Image: Oban Community Trust.

There will be a sign-up sheet for those wanting to perform.

Otherwise, meet a musical friend or two and start playing together in the cafe.

If you are not a musician, then simply come along and enjoy the atmosphere on Saturday November 18 between 2pm and 9pm.

6. Clothes swap for winter clothes

Embracing the environmental theme of the winter festival – there will be a chance to move on clothing gathering dust.

Anyone who wants to be part of the winter clothes swap should bring any items of good condition winter clothes along to the clothes swap.

Then you will be able to leave with something new (to you) to keep you dry and toasty over the cold, dark months.

Everything is free and all ages and genders are welcome.

And if you have nothing to swap, you can still head along as organisers have built up a good quantity of stock.

The swap shop is on between 1pm and 5pm on Monday November 20 in the Rockfield Centre.

7. Chill out and relax with yoga and swimming at sunset at Ganavan

For those who want to clear their head, there is a wild bathing event followed by sunset yoga.

From 1pm people are being invited to take part in a “cool” dip before they warm up at a fire pit and beach games.

People who do not want to take part in the beach activities can simply turn up to take part, otherwise, there is a £10 fee, with half donated to Adventure Oban.

The event will be followed by a sunset yoga session.

Described as a “gentle approach to movement and breathwork” that is suitable for all levels, from 3.15pm.

And to warm you up as the sun goes down, there will be a campfire and cocoa to heat up those muscles after exercising.

The event costs £8 per session.

8. Yes, please, the town’s first doughnut day

For the first time, Oban Winter Festival is hosting a doughnut day.

Yes, an actual doughnut day on Wednesday November 22.

Donoughts on a plate covered in icing and sugar.
Oban Winter Festival 2023 will include Doughnut Day. Image: Shutterstock.

Run by Taste of Argyll, from its shop on Airds Crescent, townsfolk will be able to delight in crispy doughnuts filled with a host of flavours, or simply sugared or iced.

The day will run from 9am-5pm and organisers say booking is advisable on 01631 358160 but not necessary.

For anyone not in town on Wednesday, the cafe will be making doughnuts on Tuesday from 3.30pm, and will have some to share.

9. Remember to thank all the volunteers at Oban Winter Festival 2023

While Scotland’s major festivals have full-time employees, the remarkable thing about Oban Winter Festival is that the entire programme is drawn together by a small team of volunteers.

They gather together the programme and come up with themes for the event, as well as countless hours digging in and organising and helping set up.

This year it is an environmental theme focusing on upcycling, recycling and reusing.

Organisers praised the community for backing the event – which started in 2011 – saying people come to them with ideas for the festival.