Ayr is the largest town in Ayrshire, centrally placed mid-county on the Ayrshire coast. Most visitors head to neighbouring Alloway, birthplace to Robert Burns and a mecca for Burns fans visiting the Burns National Heritage Park. Ayr in fact makes a superb base for hopping onto the Burns trail in Ayrshire. With a work-a-day feel and a bustling town centre which makes for rather good shopping, Ayr has its feet firmly on the ground and offers good family holiday seaside fun entertainment in the summer months. See particularly the excellent family holiday amenities around Ayr's Haven Holiday Park (formerly Craig Tara).
Ayr is perhaps best known for its Ayr Racecourse, Scotland's premier horse racing track and home to the Coral Scottish Grand National held annually in April. All year round Scotland horse racing in on the menu here at Ayr Racecourse, with other key events including the Totesport Gold Cup Festival in September and a host of special events. They've even started holding rock concerts here!
The upgraded A77 direct link from Glasgow to Ayr (just a 35 mile journey) makes a day at Ayr Racecourse easiliy achievable even if you're based outside Ayrshire. In fact transport links into Ayr, via Glasgow Prestick Airport, excellent rail networks and ferry services into both Troon and Stranraer from Ireland couldn't be better.
Celebrating its centenary in 2007, the two big annual fixtures at Ayr Racecourse are April's Scottish Grand National and the Totesport Gold Cup Festival in September. The Saturday Gold Cup held here at Ayr Racecourse is one of the world's most famous sprint races. Ayr practically bursts at the seems during these two fixtures, so book accommodation well ahead if you're planning to stay during these races. It's certainly a moment, watching 28 horse and riders charging down the six furlong home straight at Ayr.
Ayr Racecourse has excellent corporate hospitality facilities, you can get married here and there's a banqueting service. Check the Ayr Racecourse weblink right for more details.
Ayr Racecourse, 2-6 Whitletts Road, Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland KA8 0JE. Tel. 087 566 5667.
Ayr makes a rather good central Ayrshire holiday base, especially if the weather's good! Promoted as a beach holiday resort, Ayr's promenade offers some good family holiday entertainment notably Pirate Pete's Activity Centre (weblink right) situated right on the Ayr seafront in what used to be Ayr's Pavilion dating from 1911. Ha ha though me Jim lads, it's all slides, climbs, tubes, play areas and walking the plank these days! There's a toddlers area too, with soft toys and cubs - ideal for tots under two. A kids treasure trove essentially and a nice treat after hauling them round the Burns Heritage Trail!
Around Ayr centre there's a selection of historic buildings and sites. Note the Wallace Tower at the southern stretch of High Street. The Tower was built in 1828 and is supposed to be situated on the site of Edward I's barracks which Wallace destroyed in 1297.
Grub and Grog is available on-site with tea-time specials from 5pm to 6pm. The Pavilion Building at Ayr has been wonderfully preserved (probably thanks in no small part to the activity centre being located here and the building finding a new and popular use). A short history is offered on the Pirate Pete weblink right. Ayr Pavilion was designed by J.K. Hunter and a particularly interesting point about the building is that part of the New Bridge which once stood in Ayr from 1787 but was replaced in 1877 is used here in the Pavilion balusters flanking the entrance forecourt. The Pavilion began life as an entertainments hall and it's still providing plenty of entertainment for the kids today! Pirate Pete's, The Pavilion, The Esplanade, Low Green, Ayr, KA7 1DT. Tel. 01292 265300. Check the Pirate Pete weblink right for opening times. Adults enter free!
Within Ayr town you'll find a wide choice of restaurants, cafes, more shops and a huge number of pubs - Ayr is always lively at weekends. Newer pubs include Suburbia situated on the High Street, or checkout the historic and thatched Tam o'Shanter pub also on the High Street. This is thought to be the old tavern in Ayr where Tam in Burns' poem sups his ale and enjoys the attentions of the Landlord's wife before getting into trouble.
Built on the Barony lands in 1760, Rozelle House and estate is now a cultural centre offering art galleries, social history, costume and textiles exhibitions and more. The Maclaurin Galleries are on-site, and Rozelle House will be of particular interest to Robert Burns fans on the trail - the Goudie Collection of paintings depicting Burns' poem 'Tam O'Shanter' are held here. (see the South Ayrshire Council's 'Museums & Galleries section linked right for examples of the Goudie collection).
Acclaimed Scottish artist Alexander Goudie pours all his imagination into the Tam O'Shanter paintings - the poem's been with him since childhood. More recently he's been working on a series of paintings depicting his life in Glasgow ' Goudie's Glasgow.
Rozelle House Galleries, Rozelle Park, Monument Road, Ayr, KA7 4NQ. Tel. 01292 445447. (As well as the galleries there's a craft shop and caf on-site. It's situated just a 5 minute walk awy from Burns Cottage just off Monument Road in Ayr. View examples of the superb Tam O'Shanter series by Goudie and more via the South Ayrshire Councl weblink right).
Ayr shopping is developing a reputation, with shoppers apparently coming in from far afield. The Ayr Central Shopping complex (website right with shop listings) is just a short walk from the station and offers a choice of big name shops and eateries/cafes including Debenhams and Costa.
Ayr Tourist Information Centre, 22 Sandgate, Ayr, Ayrshire, KA7 1BW, Scotland. Tel. 01292 290300.