Free Gaelic audio tours launched at Holyrood


Gaelic speakers can now take a free tour of Holyrood while listening to an audio guide in their preferred language.

From today, Gaelic speakers who participate in guided tours will be able to use hand-held audio guides to learn about the Scottish Parliament.

The tours give visitors a behind-the-scenes insight into some of the Holyrood building’s unique architecture and art collection, and visitors will learn all about the role and work of the Parliament and its 129 MSPs.

The tours include visits to the Debating Chamber, committee rooms, the garden lobby area and to historic Queensberry House.

The Parliament introduced free tours in English in September – the final step to making all aspects of visiting and engaging with the Parliament free to the public. Audio tours are now available in a range of languages including Gaelic.

Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP said: “We pride ourselves as a Parliament on being open and accessible and removing the last existing charged-for service for visitors to Holyrood is something to celebrate.

"We hope this move will encourage even more Gaelic speakers to come and experience the Parliament for themselves.”

A group of students from Portree High School in Skye last month became the first people to take a free tour of Holyrood with a Gaelic-speaking guide. These free tours are also available at the Parliament to Gaelic speakers.

Last month the Scottish Parliament welcomed the two millionth visitor to Holyrood since its official opening in October 2004.

The launch of the Gaelic guides adds to the range of services available for Gaelic speakers which currently includes the provision of printed publications in Gaelic, outreach sessions for schools and the community in Gaelic, and arranging interpretation and translation services to support the Parliament’s business processes for debating and publishing in Gaelic.

The languages now available for audio tours are:

  • Arabic
  • Bengali
  • Cantonese
  • Mandarin
  • Polish
  • Punjabi
  • Urdu
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Spanish.

The new audio guides are also available in British Sign Language to enable deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors to participate in tours.

Free visitor tours are available for the general visitor on non-business days and for Members’ guests on business days during Parliament terms. 

Tours operate regularly throughout each day, from 10am to 5pm on weekdays and 11am to 4.30pm on Saturdays, subject to availability, offering up to 48 tours each week.

The Parliament will use audio guides from Acoustguide’s Opus Series which include state-of-the-art multimedia capabilities. The same guides are used at range of major worldwide tourist attractions including the British Museum, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

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