New venue for Scotland’s Big Nature Festival

Musselburgh Lagoons is a birding hot-spot near Edinburgh which will host this year's Big Nature Festival. Photo: www.rspb-images.com.
Musselburgh Lagoons is a birding hot-spot near Edinburgh which will host this year's Big Nature Festival. Photo: www.rspb-images.com.
Scotland’s Big Nature Festival, which includes the Scottish Birdfair, returns in 2015 to a new venue at Levenhall Links and Musselburgh Racecourse, just east of Edinburgh.

The two-day event – now in its fourth year – is expected to draw in some 6,000 wildlife lovers from across Britain and beyond when it is held on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 May.

Organised by RSPB Scotland, the festival boasts more than 100 exhibitors, with everything from bush crafts and bird ID, to artisan foods, wildlife walks and nature talks on offer. The event is extremely popular with families, with lots of specialist content for enthusiasts. Proceeds raised by the event will go towards conserving and protecting Scottish wildlife.

Nearby Musselburgh Lagoons are a haven for wildlife and migratory birds, and are located in a well known area which is already popular with birders and nature lovers. The site has been sensitively restored from ash lagoons from Cockenzie Power Station, and was landscaped and returned to East Lothian Council to create an SSSI-quality nature reserve, which now occupies 331 acres of land.

The shallow pools are home to waders like Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Common Redshank and Northern Lapwing, while ducks nest on the grassy banks and the meadows attract butterflies and Brown Hares. The grassland is a great open space enjoyed by the local community, cyclists and people following the John Muir Way.

RSPB Scotland Director, Stuart Housden, said: “The Big Nature Festival is an exciting celebration of Scotland’s wonderful wildlife, where people can learn more about our natural world and how to protect it. We’re holding the event in a great new location next year, which not only provides the ideal opportunity for a family day away from city life in a wildlife-rich green space, but is also a conservation success story, having been transformed from pulverised fuel ash waste from a power station into a vibrant nature reserve. With all the funds raised at the event going towards conservation efforts, you can’t need many more reasons to join in the fun.” 

Ian Thomson, from RSPB Scotland, added: “Musselburgh is one of south-east Scotland’s best birding sites. Visitors to the Big Nature Festival will, as well as visiting all the exhibitors and catching up with friends, have the chance to see a wide selection of bird species, from waders and terns to ducks and warblers. This site has also attracted a number of rare species like Marsh Sandpiper and Citrine Wagtail in spring over the years, and you just never know [what will turn up] ...”

If you would like to find out more about Scotland’s Big Nature Festival as well as to buy tickets, please visit: www.bignaturefestival.org.uk. Tickets are priced at £12 per adult per day or £20 per adult for the weekend. Children under 18 pay £2 per day, while those under 5 go free; concessions are available for RSPB members and some other groups.