We're well and truly into the Winter season here in Caithness. The dark nights are here and the temperature has dropped. Some folk are surprised to see us open during the Winter but trust us, there's lots to do!
The Museum welcomes visitors all year round and is the perfect place to learn about our area if the weather is a little more blustery than you'd like it. Caithness has something special to offer tourists and locals all year round, it's one of the many reasons we love our area so much. At this time of year nature really comes alive. The waves at Thurso east leap into action and are known for being one of the best cold water surfing spots in the world. Our skies are huge and the long, dark nights provide an amazing screen for a natural show-The Northern Lights. On a clear evening, you can be lucky enough to see the spectacular display from your front room and if you venture out in the car for a better look you'll soon see photographers and star gazers in laybys and car parks along the country roads.
Back in the office, we use the Winter months to regroup and finish off jobs that don't quite get finished in the busy Summer. We then plan for the next tourist season. We negotiate changing exhibits within the permanent displays and work out the new temporary exhibition calendar and look at where we can run educational workshops for young people, schools and adults. Our Young Curators Club events are planned out and our talks programme is carefully considered depending on what events are coming up both locally and nationally. This doesn't include all the cleaning required after a busy Summer season so that we can retain our 5 Star VisitScotland grading and the paperwork required to maintain Museum Accreditation of course!
Usually first on the 'to-do list' is Christmas. Halloween comes along to officially mark the end of the tourist season, kids are back to school and the clocks have gone back plunging us into darkness in the late afternoon. That's when we know it's time to prepare for what has been the busiest day of the year every year since we opened in 2008, Christmas Market Day!
We host a Christmas Market on what's known locally as 'Traders day' or 'Fun Day' where the traders in the town take the opportunity to get into the festive spirit. Many dress up and offer mulled wine and sweet treats to customers on the first Saturday in December. The Thurso Town Improvements Association co-ordinate a Santa's Grotto which they run from our conference room. We donate the use of the room to the organisation as they are fundraising towards improvement projects within our town. By working together with TTIA, both organisations see the benefit of the hard work that goes into the Christmas in Thurso celebrations. At our market we'll see more than 25 stand holders showcase their handmade items so people can pick up those special Christmas gifts locally. We're firm believers in shopping locally so are very proud that we can provide a selling opportunity to local makers and producers.
In addition to our annual Christmas Market, we host a Christmas Exhibition too. Local artists have the opportunity to submit up to four pieces for display in the Gallery and Cafe exhibition spaces. All the pieces are for sale and make wonderful Christmas treats for loved ones or simply for yourself. In 2017, the exhibition runs from 1st December until mid January with an opening event from 5pm-7pm on Thursday 7th December.
The Christmas celebrations generates income for the Museum too which is an added bonus! As a registered charity, we can struggle to make ends meet sometimes so events like these can really make a huge difference for us. If you'd like to support the Museum this Winter, here's a couple ways you can do so:
Come along over the Winter months and browse the Museum exhibits. Information on tickets can be found by clicking here.
Treat yourself to coffee and cake in our cafe.
Purchase items from our gift shop.
Purchase an item from our Christmas Exhibition.
Become a Museum member. Memberships last one year from purchase date and allow unlimited access to our displays. You can purchase one as a gift too if you like and we'll present it in a beautiful gift card. Family memberships are £25 (two adults and up to four children) individual memberships are £15. We can date gifted membership cards to suit your needs.
Adopt an object. If you've got a favourite piece from our collection, let us know! You can sponsor a specific object for £35 for one year or a whole case for £150 for one year. Again, we can create a special gift certificate for your loved one.