The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands – what is it?

Looking west along Loch Affric to snow topped mountains

Is it the landscape? The community? A favourite memory? How would you interpret it?

The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project is being delivered by High Life Highland, on behalf of The Highland Council, and aims to create and promote compelling and sustainable visitor experiences that celebrate the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands, past, present and future.

Through the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project, we will create assets including an interactive map and story archive to inspire greater exploration of the region. These will also establish authentic connections to local communities through their stories, engaging people with our rich natural and cultural heritage.

We asked people to contribute their story responding to the prompt, ‘What story sums up the Spirit of the Highlands for you?’ In doing this, the aim is to create a legacy of engaged communities and co-curated content which will showcase the natural and cultural heritage of the region. This is an opportunity for the people of the Highlands and Islands – those who live, work and travel here – to represent their area. Community stories will also inspire and inform the new visitor attraction currently being developed for the transformed Inverness Castle site. 

The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project will be delivered in partnership with VisitScotland. It is supported by a grant from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund (NCHF) led by NatureScot and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Reflecting the Spirit of the Highlands theme, it will encourage people to visit all parts of the Highlands in a sustainable way.

Sophie Gartshore, Digital Project Officer for Spirit of the Highlands and Islands, said: “This is a great opportunity for people who love the Highlands to make their mark on the content for Spirit of the Highlands and Islands online and within the transformed Inverness Castle building in future! We are really looking forward to working with other projects and heritage sites to promote the natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands in unique ways.”

Stories submitted to the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project will be used to inspire people to visit areas across the region and develop authentic connections with local communities. They are inspiring the creation of a Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands and Spirit:360, an artist commissioning programme supported by Creative Scotland, giving local artists an opportunity to showcase their work capturing the ‘spirit’ of the region. 

We would love you to get involved! Do you have a story you want to share about what the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands means to you? Tell us at https://www.spiritofthehighlands.com/get-involved/.

There are many opportunities for museums to be involved with the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project! We are looking for local people to be involved in the stitching of the Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands, as well as events and craft workshops surrounding this to showcase community stories and collections. We are excited to involve local museums and organisations at these events to highlight important aspects of regional culture and heritage.

We also want to support museum events and projects, especially during Scotland’s Year of Stories. If you would like to be featured on our story map or promote your event/project through our social channels please email info@spiritofthehighlands.com.

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