NICEVILLE — Strolling the Cliffs of Moher while enjoying its views. Walking, shopping and sightseeing on the Royal Mile. Ogling the soaring viaduct over which Harry Potter’s “Hogwarts Express” chugged. And planting a wet one on the famed stone at Blarney Castle.
These are just some of the experiences awaiting participants on Northwest Florida State College’s “On the Celtic Fringe: Legends and Landscapes of Ireland and Scotland” adventure in May 2018.
It's the third educational and cultural tour of Europe led by David Simmons, professor of humanities and film at the college, and is the group's first to venture to the northern United Kingdom.
“Explore with us the history, people and culture including medieval castles, landscapes, art and architecture, music and contemporary visual culture of Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland,” Simmons said, inviting students, faculty and friends of the college on the excursion.
Sights and landmarks on the May 14-26, 11-night experience include:
• Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle; St. Mary’s Close; Rossyln Chapel, made famous in “The Da Vinci Code”; and Mary Queen of Scots’ birthplace, Linlithgow Palace, among other castles and sites
• Loch Lomond, the Kelpies, Stirling Castle and Sir Walter Scott’s Trossachs National Park, which inspired his celebrated poem, “The Lady of the Lake,” which he set in what became Scotland’s first national park.
• The Glenfinnan Viaduct, the landmark arched bridge featured in four Harry Potter films as the route of the “Hogwarts Express” steam train; Fort William; Glencoe and Glen Etive, filming locations for the James Bond film “Skyfall,” “Braveheart,” “Rob Roy,” Harry Potter films, and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
• Belfast: Kelvingrove Park, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum; the Necropolis; Glasgow Cathedral; and the Peace Wall with its political murals, commemorating the end of “the difficulties” that plagued Catholics and Protestants for more than a century
• Dublin: The Giant’s Causeway natural rock formation; dramatic Carrick-a-Rede Bridge; Castle Ward, which was “Winterfell Castle” in the HBO series “Game of Thrones”; and Newgrange, a prehistoric site predating Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Egypt
• Cork: Trinity College Library, where participants will behold the ninth-century illuminated manuscript, “The Book of Kells”; Blarney Castle, where stone-kissing is optional but assures the smoocher of good fortune, legend says; English Market, one of the UK’s best covered markets; and the Cliffs of Moher, which Condé Nast Traveler calls “the best cliff view in the world.”
Though seemingly packed with activities, sights, lectures and insight from local landowners, historians and farmers, “On the Celtic Fringe” also offers a surprising amount of free time for hiking, exploring, walking and shopping, a rarity on most package tours but expected on NWFSC’s Humanities explorations in which participants are encouraged to set out and explore further at their own pace.
Contact Simmons, email@example.com, 729.6074, or visit Facebook.com/groups/celticfringetour/ for more information on the event.
Space is limited to just 28 participants to assure a personal experience.