Tourism springs into action

Weekly snake handling sessions take place on Saturdays at Butterfly World
Weekly snake handling sessions take place on Saturdays at Butterfly World

With an early Easter, tourism in Midlothian steps up a gear this month, writes Ian Gardner (Midlothian Tourism Forum).

Easter marks the start of the visitor season at Crichton Castle, home to the Earls of Bothwell.

Easter weekend is also the start of longer opening hours at Butterfly and Insect World which, from March 25, will be 9.30am to 5.30pm. Opening times at Rosslyn Chapel extend from April 1, with a 6pm closing time, Monday to Saturday.

New for 2016 at Ryze is a brand new area, exclusive to aged two to six-year-old jumpers, mirroring the open jump linked trampolines and foam pits.

If the prospect of better weather encourages you to get out and about, you can enjoy great walks – and the signs of spring – at Vogrie Country Park, Roslin Glen Country Park or Dalkeith Country Park. If you are inspired to get cycling, look out for the North Esk Cycle Loop leaflet to keep you on the right track.

A number of events are planned in the local area in the coming weeks. Melville Castle Hotel will hold an Easter egg hunt in the grounds at 2pm on March 26, the Ranger Service at Penicuik House will have an Easter event on Easter Sunday, and on April 2 Rosslyn Chapel will host a day of medieval activities to enjoy from 11am to 4pm.

Looking further ahead, Stewart Brewing is holding a beer festival at its brewery in Loanhead on April 16 from 3pm to 11pm with discount tickets for Midlothian residents.

Still on food and drink, there is plenty of time to cast your vote in the Midlothian Food and Drink Awards. If you are out for coffee in the coming weeks, or eating out for lunch or dinner, you can vote for your favourites before April 24.

Make the most of spring in Midlothian and enjoy the wide variety of things to do on your doorstep. There are more ideas on the Visit Midlothian website –