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Disney collaborator signed up for ‘world class’ Highland castle attraction

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Construction work started in April 2022 and is due to be completed in December 2024, with the attraction on target to open in summer 2025.

Highland Council said Spider Entertainment will be responsible for developing and delivering the specialist training required to open and operate the attraction.

The firm has more than 30 years of specialist experience running attractions around the world including Madame Tussauds in Sidney and Centre Parcs and Legoland Windsor in the UK and has also previously worked with Disney.

The Herald:

Visitors to the castle and its grounds will step into an “immersive adventure” following the Seanchaidh (storyteller) through the South Tower as tales of Highland landscape, heritage, culture and the spirit of its people unfold towards an “unforgettable finale”.

Up to 80 local jobs will be created with recruitment due to get underway in the coming weeks.

In a progress report, the local authority said financial support has been sought from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to secure £100,000 to provide training to young people identified as potential candidates by the University of the Highlands and Islands and a youth employability scheme.

Up to 30 permanent and 15 seasonal jobs will be available to those who complete the training.

The council is also exploring if there is potential to create a specialist training programme for the operation of other visitor attractions through the Inverness Castle development.

It is hoped the new attraction will boost international and domestic tourism as well as providing a “high-quality leisure and cultural amenity” for local people.  A new restaurant will open with a top level platform offering panoramic views of the city.

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The stories and exhibition content has been sourced from communities across the Highlands and Islands.

The Herald:

A major tapestry has been created involving stitching groups from communities across the whole of the Highlands and Islands, which will form part of the first exhibition in the new North Tower gallery when the attraction opens in 2025.

Mathers & Co have been appointed as designers, a firm that has previously worked on the Gretna Green Experience; Downton Abbey – The Exhibition and the R&A World of Golf Museum in St Andrews.

The Herald:

Inverness Castle occupies the site where the original mediaeval fortification once dominated the burgh.

In its long and tempestuous history, the previous castle was set ablaze more than once by the mighty MacDonald Lords of the Isles, saw entry refused to Mary, Queen of Scots and endured a number of sieges. 

The castle, having been reinforced in the early 18th century to accommodate British Government Troops, was finally destroyed by Jacobites at the command of Charles Edward Stuart, prior to the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

The original well from the mediaeval fortress can be found in the grounds of the current castle, and a statue of Flora MacDonald, completed in the 1890s by Inverness sculptor Andrew Davidson, looks over towards the River Ness from Castle Hill.

Inverness Castle comprises of two castellated buildings. The first dates from the 1830s and was built for purpose as a courthouse.  The second, completed in the 1840s, served as the prison,

Council arms-length firm High Life Highland will run the new attraction with 50% profit restricted to supporting the development of leisure, cultural and tourism infrastructure throughout the Highlands.

Highland Council was awarded Levelling Up funding of £19.856m for the project and two other connected schemes including a new energy centre to supply Inverness Castle.

The local authority said that while the project remains within budget, work is ongoing to attract funding from public and private sources.

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