Kilmarnock is located in the heart of East Ayrshire, Scotland, literally. It’s the largest town in the county of Ayrshire and the administrative centre. There are many interesting attractions & things to do in Kilmarnock whether you’re a lover of art, history, whisky or nature.
This bustling town in Ayrshire is well-known for its friendly locals, art galleries, golf courses, and vibrant shopping scene. Many independent retailers have brought incredible industry and local property redevelopment to this historic county. This guide looks at some of the best things to do in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.
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Things to do in Kilmarnock
Visitors are spoiled for choice when visiting Kilmarnock. Whether you are looking for a quiet weekend away where you can enjoy stunning Scottish parks & scenery or a weekend of exploring historical sites or golfing — there is something for everyone here.
Located on the west side of Kilmarnock, take a wander around the buzzing town centre and get to know the cobbled streets and niche boutiques in the city’s historic core. You’ll be surprised at how many sights, smells, and services are available in this town in East Ayrshire, Scotland.
Grand Victorian architecture isn’t hard to come across in the West of Scotland, and John Finnie Street is a prime example of this ornate design.
The Dick Institute
Looking for cultured things to do in Kilmarnock? The Dick Institute is the place to be if you are a culture vulture! This building opened in 1901 and attracts over 120,000 visitors each year.
This four-star attraction houses the largest museum in the county of Ayrshire, Scotland, art galleries, a museum, and many cultural spaces. Visitors can also stop by its on-site cafe for a snack and drink while exploring this Kilmarnock museum.
This stunning museum hosts an impressive programme of exhibitions and display collections for its art galleries, including work by contemporary artists from Ayrshire county.
Whether you are looking for rock and roll, an evening of drama, or something for the whole family, you will find it at the Palace Theatre.
This spectacular venue is popular amongst Ayrshire locals, and many people travel here to see some of the biggest names in comedy in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and the rest of the UK. The venue is also one of the top locations for theatre productions in Ayrshire.
It’s worth checking out their website to see what shows and events are taking place while you’re here!
Dean Castle and Country Park
This friendly tourist attraction is an excellent day out for the whole family. Dean Castle and Country Park run a superb programme of events, art galleries, and exhibitions.
Surrounded by beautiful West Scottish nature, Dean Castle is one of the best-preserved parks in this part of Ayrshire, Scotland. Many visitors come here to search for wildlife while on woodland walks in the parks around this 14th-century castle.
The Urban Farm Paddocks is also located on the country park grounds and is home to Hebridean sheep and lambs, Eriskay ponies and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. The farm animals make this a great attraction in Kilmarnock if you have children. The East Ayrshire country parks of Dean Castle cover over 200-acres and are free to enter for anybody.
The Burns Monument Centre
Did you know that Kilmarnock is home to some of the most prominent monument sites dedicated to Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns? The centre is in the heart of Kay Park, one of the finest parks in the East Ayrshire region.
The link between Burns and Kilmarnock began when the famous poet decided to print his poems in the town in 1786. Ever since Burn’s first collection of poems was printed in Kilmarnock, it has reached the ears of England, Scotland, Wales, and beyond! Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, was put on the map when his notoriety eventually reached the West.
This collection of poems printed here is entitled “Poems, Chiefly in the West Scottish Dialect, by Robert Burns, Kilmarnock”, but became known as the “Kilmarnock Volume”. Its exclusivity draws visitors from all around who want to admire the Burns monument and poems right here in Kilmarnock.
Trace your family tree
If you are interested in genealogy and are visiting West Scotland to trace your family’s history, Kilmarnock in Ayrshire is certainly the right place to be.
At the Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, visitors can access Scottish records that are almost 500 years for a small fee of £15.
The Centre uses software that holds the old Ayrshire Parish Records, wills, testaments and other minor forms to fill the gaps in your family tree.
Search your past in this historic county and unearth the mystery of your ancestors.
The Kay Park
Covering 30-acres in the town centre of Kilmarnock, Kay Park is one of Kilmarnock’s most beautiful parks to enjoy with the family on a beautiful day in Ayrshire. The location is lush and green and also contains the Burns Monument Centre.
Located in the eastern section of Kilmarnock, you can spy on some local wildlife while sitting next to the pond with your children on the shores of this verdant site. Why not bring along a picnic blanket and make a day of enjoying what Kilmarnock parks have to offer?
Kay Park is a prime Kilmarnock location to explore with your kids and will undoubtedly leave you wanting to come back to enjoy the fresh air and atmosphere.
Laigh Kirk is a stunning church in the heart of Kilmarnock town centre and acts as the prime location of worship for the town.
You will often see live performances of children singing choir on Sunday mornings at this grand church. Its stained glass windows are breathtaking and diffuse the light into brilliant nativity and Biblical scenes.
If you’re interested in attending their services but also appreciate beautiful architecture, the Laigh Kirk is a fine example of architectural craftsmanship.
Kilmarnock War Memorial
Kilmarnock War Memorial commemorates the tragedy of those lost in the wars Kilmarnock residents have fought over the ages.
This Memorial contains walls adorned with names along with a beautiful statue that captures the atmosphere of the Memorial. The building resembles a mausoleum, with stone pillars and engraved crenelations that inform you about which wars Kilmarnock fought in.
The Kilmarnock War Memorial is not one of the most flashy sites in the city, but its importance to the residents of Kilmarnock makes it an important place to visit.
Morris Equestrian Centre
Equestrians will lose their saddle when they see the state-of-the-art facilities and parks of the Morris Equestrian Centre. There is no better place for your children to try a riding lesson or visit the livery in Kilmarnock than this centre.
If you’re more interested in the competitive side, the Equestrian Centre hosts various events like dressage and showjumping at their racing parks.
Bask in the countryside air of Kilmarnock while you learn the basics of riding a horse at one of the most prestigious centres in Ayrshire, Scotland.
Just outside Kilmarnock lies one of the most spectacular castles that Ayrshire offers. Sitting on the edge of the River Irvine and its parks, the beautiful Caprington Castle is nestled amongst immaculate landscapes and woodlands.
The castle, built in 1425, was home to the Cunningham families but now stands as a shining beacon to all who visit the castle’s grounds.
Caprington Castle is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the magnificent castles of Kilmarnock and the surrounding East Ayrshire parks and forests.
Edward VII Memorial
Presented by James Craig to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII, this Memorial is a beautiful Victorian water fountain that marks this momentous occasion within one of Kilmarnock’s most beautiful parks.
The Memorial itself is a sight to behold, with lions and intricate designs interlaced throughout the copper foundation of the fountain. Unfortunately, the Memorial no longer spouts water as it did in 1902.
The Edward VII Memorial is a great attraction to pop by while exploring the town parks of Kilmarnock.
The Swimmer Sculpture
Throughout the streets and parks of Kilmarnock, you can find many statues by famous West Scottish artist, Shona Kinloch. The most well-known of these statues is the Swimmer Sculpture. This statue depicts a swimmer emerging from the concrete sea in a pair of goggles and a swimming cap.
There are hidden statues on almost every corner of Kilmarnock’s streets and in its parks. Stumbling upon these will make you smile as you explore the town.
The Swimmer Sculpture is an excellent opportunity to take a picture while travelling and experiencing East Ayrshire, Scotland.
Kilmarnock Rugby Park
You won’t experience a more lively 80 minutes than a game at the Kilmarnock Rugby Stadium. The locals of Kilmarnock are avid supporters of the physical sport, and it’s not uncommon to see the community gathered in face paint to show their Kilmarnock pride.
Search through the local newspaper, the Kilmarnock Standard, or check out their website for information about upcoming matches.
Cheer with the locals as they dominate the Ayrshire competition and immerse yourself in the spirit of the sport at one of its most beautiful sports parks.
Catching a game at this sports park is an excellent representation of the culture of Kilmarnock.
Johnnie Walker Gravestone
Whisky fans worldwide are aware of the name Johnnie Walker, and those who visit Kilmarnock can pay a visit to the grave of the person behind this prolific brand. The company of Johnnie Walker announced plans to restore the Gravestone in 2021 and aim to reopen the location in 2022.
The Gravestone is behind the Kilmarnock graveyard and holds a piece of whisky history within its engravings. Learn about the personal life and history of the man behind every bottle of Johnnie Walker.
This Gravestone is truly a hidden gem waiting for you to discover as you travel through Kilmarnock.
Just west of the town centre of Kilmarnock, Howard Park is one of the most tranquil parks you can enjoy while in town. Revel in the world-class amenities the park offers, like a bowling club, kids playground, and grand monuments.
Howard Park offers you and your loved ones the opportunity to spend a day under the warm sun and fulfil your picnic fantasies while your children play in the playground.
Howard Country Park is the perfect location in Kilmarnock to sit back and read a book of your choice. Relax and stay a while!
The Garage Leisure Centre
The Garage Leisure Centre on the west side of Kilmarnock has something adventurous for everyone! They offer tenpin bowling, go-karting, a function suite, and more fun activities & services.
The Centre provides all the entertainment you need under one roof and encourages you to let your inner kid out to explore. The Centre also has an active nightlife, with a thriving club and bar scene that hosts many of Kilmarnock’s youths on weekends. Search through their website for more details on events and functions!
Embark on a journey of fun-filled activities while at the Garage Leisure Centre; you certainly won’t regret it.
A river of many names, the Kilmarnock Water flows through Kilmarnock before joining with the River Irvine.
The river is the perfect way to explore Kilmarnock and its parks as it flows past many city landmarks. It offers a splendid opportunity to walk along its flowing banks and allow the river to guide you through the sights and sounds of Kilmarnock.
The Kilmarnock Water is also a great location to take pictures at, especially when the sun reveals the gorgeous sparkling waters of this notable river.
Kilmarnock Football Club
If you’re in the mood for some local Kilmarnock cheer and spirit, this stadium is where you want to be whenever a match is on.
Kilmarnock FC is a fantastic and relentless team to watch as they face down teams from London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the greater region of England, Scotland, and Wales. The points don’t stop coming!
Attending a match at Kilmarnock Football Stadium is one of the best things you can do while in town, so don’t miss out. You can see when they’re playing on their website or online.
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