Edinburgh Castle tops Scotland's visitor attractions

Edinburgh Castle The castle's executive manager described the site as a "living, breathing monument"

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Edinburgh Castle has been confirmed as Scotland's number one visitor attraction.

Last year, more than 1.2 million people crossed the castle threshold - the highest number of visitors to a paid or free visitor attraction in the country.

The castle saw a 12% increase in visitors for September alone.

Glasgow's Kelvingrove Museum remains the top free attraction with more than one million visitors, but the figure is down 21% on last year.

The fall in numbers is blamed on poor weather and industrial action.

Edinburgh Castle visitors rose by 1% over the year, according to the figures released annually by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

In December, Historic Scotland, which runs the castle along with 77 other attractions in Scotland, reported its best April to September period on record.

'Enduring appeal'

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop said: "The castle has sustained its numbers in the face of two unprecedented events - the ash cloud at the beginning of the year and the extreme weather at the end of the year, and on the back of a very strong season the year before.

"This illustrates the enduring appeal of the castle as a brand and the hard work of staff to provide a world-class visitor experience."

The castle will hold a number of events this summer, from the Tattoo in August to a concert by Arcade Fire on the esplanade in September.

The castle's recently appointed executive manager, Nick Finnigan, said he was keen to attract more local visitors to the castle and encourage them to become members.

He said: "Membership is a great way to come to the castle throughout the year and enjoy many of the costumed events which are designed to bring the past to life - as well as providing access to all our other sites throughout the country.

"This is a living, breathing monument and we want people to return again and again at different stages throughout their lives."

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