The “Fair City” of Perth has regularly been among the winners in the Beautiful Scotland awards, and its streets and public gardens are filled with colour throughout the tourist season.
Shopping, eating out, entertainment, culture and leisure facilities are all within close proximity in the city centre which is surrounded by splendid public parks and the Tay Street promenade.
Perth Concert Hall is a superb venue for arts events with a diverse programme including music, comedy, dance and children’s entertainment.
Perth Museum and Art Gallery is one of the oldest museums in the UK with more than half a million objects. Permanent displays explore the artistic, social and natural history of the Perth area, with regularly changing exhibitions that cater for all tastes.
Nearby the Fergusson Gallery houses the world’s largest collection of artworks by the celebrated Scottish Colourist John Duncan Fergusson.
Perth has been a royal burgh since the 13th century and was a royal residence throughout the Middle Ages. Indeed it served as capital of Scotland for a century up until 1437.
Scone, just outside Perth, is the ancient coronation site of Scottish monarchs and here you can tour the imposing Scone Palace with its collections of fine French furniture, porcelain, clocks and ivories acquired by the earls of Mansfield through the generations.
Kenneth MacAlpin, the first king of a united Scotland, brought the Stone of Destiny to Scone. King Edward I removed this treasured item – a large sandstone block – to Westminster Abbey in 1296, and it remained there for almost 700 years as part of the throne on which all sovereigns sit to be crowned.
The Stone of Destiny was stolen from Westminster on Christmas Day 1950 by a group of nationalist students, and was later found deposited in Arbroath Abbey. The students’ exploits were featured in a 2008 film starring Robert Carlyle.
The Stone of Destiny was gifted back to Scotland on St Andrew’s Day 1996 and can now be seen in Edinburgh Castle.
Elsewhere on the outskirts of Perth you can visit the ruins of Huntingtower Castle, once called House of Ruthven. It has two fine towers, built during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The House of Ruthven was home to the ruthless earls of Gowrie during the 16th century. They were responsible for the murder of David Riccio, the secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots. They helped imprison the Queen on Loch Leven, near Kinross, and then kidnapped the young James VI while he was on a hunting expedition and held him as a prisoner at the castle for almost a year.
After his escape, James initially pardoned his captors. But the House of Ruthven paid for its scheming when one of its later plots turned sour and James hunted them down. As well as executing the plotters, he had the name of Ruthven abolished and all its property was forfeited. Consequently the House of Ruthven was changed to Huntingtower Castle.
Also on the outskirts of the town is Perth Racecourse which quite literally lets you feel the hooves on the track. The racing season runs from April to September and, as the UK's Best Small Racecourse, it is well known for attracting the top trainers, horses and riders.
In addition to first class racing, Perth Racecourse also offers excellent private or corporate hospitality. With its ideal, not to mention idyllic, situation in the heartland of Scotland, the racecourse makes a stunning location for any event. Weddings, conferences and exhibitions can all be catered for.
Photos: Alan Hendry