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Art Night Blog – Andrew Batchelor

Sitting on the banks of the Firth of Tay on the east coast of Scotland, Dundee is arguably the most central city in the country.

Within just 90 minutes, 90 percent of Scotland’s population is accessible from the city making it an ideal location for tourists.

Historically, the focus tends to be on Edinburgh and Glasgow, so Dundee is prone to be overlooked. Thankfully, times are changing and Art Night happening in June is a fantastic example.

Dundee has gone through major changes in a short space of time. The waterfront has had a complete overhaul and as old industries have fallen away, new, and exciting ventures have surfaced. Creativity, design, and innovation have taken the place of jute, jam, and journalism.

Discover Dundee’s maritime legacy.

Dundee’s maritime history is remarkable. 

Hundreds of ships were built in the city, from the likes of the Telamon, which later became a shipwreck turned landmark in Lanzarote, to the SS Californian, which infamously failed to act during the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912.

But the one ship Dundee gave to the world, which sits at the heart of its waterfront, is the stunning RRS Discovery, the first purpose-built polar research ship in the world. This ship brought Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton to the untouched continent of Antarctica – and you can literally walk in their footsteps! 

Close to the Discovery, in the city’s Victoria Dock, sits HMS Unicorn – one of the oldest surviving ships in the world. This is an absolute gem with so much history you will love exploring.

The Dundee Maritime Trail links RRS Discovery and HMS Unicorn. This fantastic trail takes you past the newly installed Tay Whale at Waterfront Place, the Telford Beacon and the North Carr Lightboat, which also permanently resides in Victoria Dock.

An up-and-coming cyclist’s paradise

Dundee is fast becoming a cyclist’s paradise, boasting several of Scotland’s most stunning views. The Dundee Cycle Hub recently opened at the waterfront. It acts as a gateway to Dundee’s Green Circular route, which has been considered as one of the best cycling routes in Europe.

Stop off for a coffee at the Cycle Hub before – or after – you set off on your journey exploring Dundee and the local area.

On the Green Circular you can cycle past the city’s most stunning landmarks, from the infamous Tay Rail Bridge to Broughty Castle which sits on the banks of the Firth of Tay near the North Sea. 

Ride past the stunning Trottick Nature Reserve to see the resident swans or have a peaceful time travelling through Camperdown Country Park. There is so much to see and do on this cycle route.

A design industry on the rise

Dundee’s UNESCO City of Design status was awarded in 2014 and, ever since, the city’s design industry has boomed! 

The V&A Dundee, Scotland’s first design museum, opened its doors in 2018 and has welcomed millions of visitors from across the world. Having experienced it, I can say the current Tartan exhibition is absolutely stunning! The other V&A exhibitions are equally worth viewing.

Located at the heart of Dundee is the McManus, Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum, which celebrates the history of the city. There’s a wealth of artefacts on show which will appeal to all ages. The café at the McManus is the perfect place to go for a relaxing bite to eat before or after your journey exploring this magnificent building. 

Dundee also has over 600 pieces of public art scattered around the city, from Oor Wullie and his bucket in Albert Square, to the Penguins and Lemmings statues in the Nethergate.

Open Close Dundee, an art project, aims to bring tourists into the inner parts of the city. There are fantastic art pieces scattered throughout the city’s neighbourhoods, from Stobswell to St. Mary’s and Douglas to Downfield. 

A trip to the Dundee Law

To get the best view of Dundee, the Dundee Law is definitely the place to go. This beautiful hill is visible from all over the city and makes up our skyline. With the beautiful war memorial at the summit, you get a stunning 360-degree view of the City of Discovery!

There are a lot of interesting facts about the Law.

It was once used as an Iron Age hill fort and there used to be an old tunnel, which is now sealed off, that ran through the centre of the hill. The tunnel used to carry the Dundee and Newtyle railway and was later used as a war bunker. The Dundee Law is also often referred to as an ‘extinct volcano’ but it is, in fact, a volcanic sill.

It’s one of the best places to view Dundee in all its glory and it holds a place in my heart because it helps give Dundee its unique identity.

So, if you are planning to come to Dundee during Art Night – definitely visit the Dundee Law!

Dundee has so much to offer for people to enjoy. I would definitely recommend booking a visit, so you don’t miss out on an amazing experience! 

Art Night