Everything you ever wanted to know about


Taking in a history lesson in your spare time might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but the people at Edinburgh's latest high-tech, interactive attraction aim to

change that.

Shaping A Nation is an interactive exhibit where the emphasis is on fun, getting involved, and most of all challenging your perceptions about Scotland. Once inside, the exhibits are all informative, inviting and most importantly interesting. The displays range from ’Great Scots’, which highlights the amazing contributions Scots have made to the world (where would we be without stamps, microscopes, and TVs?), to a ’Celebrity Scotland' tunnel (and yes there's even a place for honorary Scot, Rod Stewart), and an entire section devoted to Dolly the Sheep. The real highlight of this section is the hands-on, interactive features. Children can amuse themselves making brass rubbings, playing the bagpipes or even learning the basic principles behind bridge construction, whilst the adults take a virtual tour of Edinburgh Castle or pit their wits against each other in the ’Discovery

Scotland’ quiz.

Following on from this is a room with a wall of TV screens, bombarding the audience with different people's views of what it means to be Scottish, set to stirring Scottish music against the backdrop of some spectacular Scottish scenery - an experience which is sure to move even the most staunch opponents of Scottish


By far the most exciting attraction comes at the end: a virtual helicopter ride across Scotland on a motion simulator. The massive screen completely dominates your field of vision, the seat swivels, judders, swoops and slides in time to the film. You lose awareness of everything around you and feel that you really are in that helicopter - an experience which has to be seen to be believed. Of course, the ride was tame compared to the Turbo Rides, but those should be reserved for adrenaline-junkies only, and that’s another story altogether. (Maureen Ellis)

Fun Factor 4/5 Informative 5/5 Value for money 3/5

How you get there Shaping A Nation is located within the Fountainpark complex, Dundee Street. From Princes Street, turn onto Lothian Road, and then right onto Fountainbridge which takes you along to the complex.

How much does it cost? £5.50 (£4) for Shaping A Nation only; £7.50 (£5.50); +1 Turbo Ride; £9 (£6.50); +2 Turbo Rides. Group discounts available.

When it's open Mon—Thu 12pm—7pm, Fri—Sat 12pm—9pm, Sun 2pm—9pm.

I Shaping A Nation, Fountainpark, Dundee Street, 229 1706.

SPECIAL EVENTS Festivals Change Travel Week Mon 18—Fri 22 Sep, Various venues, 467 7905. Improve your fitness and help conserve the environment by leaving the car at home and trying out alternative modes of transport.


Terry Wogan Thu 7 Sep, 1pm. £3. Festival Theatre, 13—29 Nicolson Street, 529 6000. The talk show stalwart and Radio 2 DJ discusses his new autobiography Is It Me ?.

Ringu Tulka Rinpoche Mon ll—Wed 13

Sep, 7.30pm. St Mark’s Church, Castle Terrace, 668 2019. The Tibetan Lama stops off in Edinburgh as part of his world-wide teachings on the Tibetan culture and Buddhism.

The Press, The Parliament Or The People: Wha Wears The Troosers? Thu 14 Sep, 7pm. Free. Edinburgh City Chambers, High Street, 556 2944. Your chance to grill members of the press, local government and academics on the people’s role in a democratic Scotland. Speakers at the event include the Daily Record’s Tom Beattie, MSP Cathie Peattie, and John Mclnnes of Edinburgh University.

Jimmy Logan Wed 20 Sep, 1pm. £3.

Festival Theatre, 13—29 Nicolson Street, 529 6000. The hardy perennial of the comedy world reads from his poignant autobiography, It’sA Funny Life.

Other Events

Geology Walks Until Sun 24 Sep, 3pm. £5.50 (£2.50—£4.50). Holyrood Palace Car Park, 555 1859. Discover the secrets of Edinburgh’s landscape, from the volcanoes and glaciers that have shaped the land to the people who have used it, in this informative walk on Arthur’s Seat. Edinburgh Farmers Market Sat 9 Sep, 9am—2pm. Castle Terrace. Fresh produce on offer from over 30 stalls in the very heart of Edinburgh with food ranging from the traditional to the exotic.

Craft Exhibition Tue l2—Thu 14 Sep, Tue 2—6pm; Wed 9am—6pm; Thu 9am—12.30pm. Festival Theatre, 13—29 Nicolson Street, 529 6000. Displays of embroidery, needlework, paintings, sculpture, knitting, floral art and toys. Record Fair Sat 16 Sep, 10am—4pm. Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street, 226 2428. Record fair.

Book Fair Tue 19—Sat 23 Sep, Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street, 226 2428. Book fair.


Caledonian Brewery

42 Slateford Road, Edinburgh, 623 8066. Open all year. Tours are Mon—Fri 11am, 12.30pm & 2.30pm. The award-winning Caledonian Brewery, still going strong after 100 years, will let you into the secrets behind the crafting of their fine ales. The tour takes you through the brewing process, from crushing the malt to brewing in the open coppers, culminating in a free beer of your choice in the sample cellar. Private evening and weekend tours available, call for details. City Of The Dead's Haunted Graveyard Touts

Meet by St Giles Cathedral, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, 556 1601. £5 (£4). Join this spooky tour if you dare, and you‘ll be guaranteed all manner of paranormal frights, including the infamous McKenzie Poltergeist. You have been warned. Tours run Thu, Fri, Sat at 8.30pm.

Dynamic Earth

Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, 550 7800. Mon—Sun 10am—6pm. £5.95 (£3.50—4.40); family ticket £16.50. With volcanoes erupting beneath your feet, a tropical rainstorm pouring down, earthquakes and tidal waves at every turn, the history of the earth has never been more interesting. Edinburgh’s latest visitor attraction uses stunning new developments in interactive technology to piece together the history of the planet, creating a thoroughly modern way to step back in time.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh, 225 9846. Daily 9.30am—6pm. £7 (£2—£5). Although much of the castle‘s medieval character was lost when it was converted into barracks in the 19th century, continuing excavations aim to redress this. Other attractions include James [V’s famous cannon, Mons Meg, the One O‘Clock Gun with its own exhibition, lots of military silverware and, of course, The Stone Of Destiny, used to crown Scottish kings since time began. Last admission 5.15pm.

Edinburgh Zoo

Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, 334 9171. Daily 9am—5pm. £6.80 (£3.80—£4.80); family Ticket £19-£23.50 Widely accepted as one of the finest zoos in Britain, there’s plenty here to while away an afternoon, or even a whole day if you take your time. The penguin parade at 2.15pm is a must and the newly-built African plains afford a fantastic view of the city.

Midlothian Ski Centre

Biggar Road, Ilillend, Edinburgh, 445 4433. Mon—Sat 9.30am—9pm; Sun 9.30am—7pm. £6 for a one hour session (under 18s £4). Europe’s longest artificial


ski slope is the perfect place to learn or hone ski-ing and snowboarding skills. Mountain bikers can take the chairlift before enjoying the new 600 metre downhill mountain bike trail. The centre also houses a competitively priced ski repair and maintenance facility. Museum Of Scotland

Chambers Street, Edinburgh, 247 4219. Mon—Sat 10am—5pm; Sun noon—5pm; Tue 10am—8pm. £3 (£1.50); children under 18 free. Devoted solely to the history and heritage of Scotland, the building contains five thematically- arranged exhibitions, moving from pre- history, through the Industrial Revolution, to the present day, at which point national heroes such as Billy Connolly and Elaine C. Smith et involved.

Palace 0? Holyroodhouse

Royal Mile, Edinburgh, 556 1096. Daily 9.30am—6pm (last admission 5.15pm). £5.50 (£2.70-£4); family ticket £13.50. Starting life as a 13th century abbey, the palace has evolved into a sumptuous regal residence crammed full of paintings and artefacts dating back primarily to the 17th century. The tower apartments housed a sad and lonely Mary Queen of Scots’ for a time, but with a spectacular view of Arthur’s Seat, and magnificent gardens to look at, it’s hard to feel too sorry for her.

Royal Botanic Garden

lnverleith Row, Edinburgh, 552 7171. Daily 9.30am—6pm. Free. A sea of tranquillity in the hubbub of the city, the Botanic Garden is home to a wealth of flora from all over the world. The glasshouscs give you the opportunity to check out tropical plants as well. The site also hosts art exhibitions, horticultural courses and various countryside events, including daily guided walks in the

Royal Yacht Britannia

Ocean Drive, Leith, Edinburgh, 555 5566. Daily 10.30am—6pm. £7.50 (£3.75—£5.75); family ticket £20. The former royal yacht has opened its doors to members of the public after a £25 million refit. The on-shore visitor centre contains historical information on the boat and its furnishings while, on the yacht itself, members of the public can have a good nosy round the royals‘ former quarters. Last entry 4.30pm.

Shaping A Nation

Fountainpark. Dundee Street. Edinburgh, 229 1706. Mon—Sat 10am—5pm: Sun 11am—5pm. £5.50 (£4); family ticket £16. The newest addition to the Fountainpark complex provides a fresh look at Scotland’s heritage. Interactive displays and computers give a ‘hands-on’ feel to the attraction. exploring the inventors and innovators who have made Scotland great. The finishing touch is a themed journey on the Turbo Ride.

St Giles' Cathedral

Royal Mile, Edinburgh, 225 9442. Mon—Sat 9am—5pm; Sun 1—5pm. Founded in the 1100s, this church has witnessed executions, riots and celebrations. With spectacular stained glass windows. ornate stonework and guided tours it‘s a good starting point for exploring the Royal Mile, or if you’re feeling in need of spiritual rejuvenation go along to one of their regular services or music events.


Living History Display Sun 10 Sep, 11am—4pm. £3.50 (£2.50). Vikingar, Barrfields, Greenock Road, Largs, ()1475 689777. Travel back in time to learn how the Vikings lived over 500 years ago and learn about their clothes, the games they played and even the cooking utensils they used.

Stirling Castle Extravaganza Sun 10 Sep, 12.30—4.3()pm. £4.50 (£1.20—£3.50). Stirling Castle, Stirling, 01786 450000. Combat re-enactment, falconry, music, drama and lots more are on show during this spectacular event.

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