With so much to see and do across the country on 30 November, we round up a few of the events and charitable causes we're most excited about this year
As the rest of the world gears up for the consumerist feeding frenzy that is Black Friday, there is a different song to be sung here in Scotland, as community groups and creative minds throughout the nation prepare for St Andrew's Fair Saturday.
Taking place on the last Saturday of November each year, Fair Saturday originated in the Spanish city of Bilbao as a multi-arts movement that aims to promote empathy and togetherness in the face of growing isolation and xenophobia. Since its first edition in 2015, the movement has quickly spread across the world, and Scotland became the first to participate as a nation in 2018, tying it with the annual celebration of Scotland's patron saint.
In cities and towns across the world, artists and cultural bodies will host concerts, events and workshops in support of a social cause close to their heart, whether it be a refugee charity or a local hospice. Last year, over a million euros were raised by over 10,000 organisers in 180 cities.
As St Andrew's Fair Saturday is (unfortunately) only one day a year, and with such a diverse, exciting programme ahead, some difficult choices will need to be made. To help you in the decision-making process, we're here to shout about a few of the events that we're most keen to check out this year.
Aidan O'Rourke / credit: Genevieve Stevenson
Acclaimed folk musician Aidan O'Rourke is hosting a musical feast over at Queen's Hall, which will see him joined on stage by piper Brìghde Chaimbeul and the Soundhouse Choir, led by Heather Macleod of the Bevvy Sisters. The programme will feature a wealth of Scottish songs old and new, with all profits going towards the Soundhouse Organisation, which is currently raising funds for a live music venue and musicians' centre in Edinburgh.
Over at Summerhall, the multi-arts venue will be hosting their inaugural Fair Play gig, a live showcase featuring musicians SHHE, Little King, Harry Harris and writer Jenni Fagan. Each artist has taken part in Summerhall's various artist development programmes this year, and all proceeds from Fair Play will go back towards funding these programmes and the various forms of resources and support they provide to emerging creatives.
The Scottish Storytelling Centre is inviting everyone to put their dancing shoes on for their Family Ceilidh, an afternoon of social dancing that even the wee ones can take part in. Later in the evening, the centre will come alive with the Ceilidh House, in which everyone and anyone can come sing, dance, play music and share stories, or just sit back and soak in all the vibrant talent on display.
Jenni Fagan / credit: Mihaela Bodlovic
Over in Leith, Edinburgh Tool Library will be opening the doors of its Customs Lane workshop to host a range of festive maker sessions, wherein participants can come to grips with using lathes and bandsaws to create small, seasonal projects just in time for the holidays. Similarly, Edinburgh College's Granton campus will be supporting Stand Up to Cancer at their Creative Afternoon event, which will feature an exciting range of activities, workshops and live music.
Meanwhile, the Travelling Gallery will be rolling up to Chambers Street with their autumn exhibition Day of Access. Featuring works by activist Alec Findlay alongside a myriad of others, the exhibition explores themes of disability, accessibility and ecological remediation, whilst campaigning for better support and accessibility services for people living with disabilities. Just outside the city in nearby Roslin, the atmospheric Rosslyn Chapel will be hosting a performance of Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols by Heriot-Watt University's chamber choir, alongside harpist Sophie Askew. The concert is in support of the charity MYPAS, which works to help young people in Midlothian cope with issues around mental health, drug and alcohol use.
Drake Music Scotland: No Place Like...
Glasgow Caledonian University will be playing host to a wide range of events on St Andrew's Fair Saturday. First off is a performance by the Glasgow City Council Schools Concert Band in support of Drake Music Scotland, which helps people with disabilities create ground-breaking new music and musical technologies. This worthy charity will also be the recipient of profits from Heavy Sound's event in the foyer of the Hamish Wood Building, which will feature hip hop and rap performances from the young participants of their music outreach programmes.
Meanwhile in the George Moore Building, a staging of Ann Marie di Mambro's familial comedy-drama Rachel's Cousins will be raising funds for Breast Cancer Support, dovetailing with protagonist Rachel's attempts to reach out to her estranged family after she finds out she has a gene that carries an increased risk of breast cancer. The Glasgow Caledonian University choir will also be supporting the charity at their concert 'A Night at the Winter Movies', which will see them perform a festive medley of songs from popular holiday films.
In Dundee, the decks of HMS Unicorn will be filled with lively trad tunes from Shetland, Scotland, Ireland and beyond as Full Tilt take to the stage. Made up of acclaimed musicians Gemma Donald, Brian Nicholson, Alan Small and Manus McGuire, the talented quartet will perform songs off their new album and raise funds for the Unicorn Preservation Society, which works to preserve the historic venue for generations to come. The Dundee Rep will also be dedicating two stagings of their new musical Oor Wullie to the local social enterprise Uppertunity, which provides opportunities to adults with special needs.
Elsewhere across Scotland
Further north on the Isle of Skye, as part of the SEALL Festival of Small Halls, the Big Cèilidh promises a night of music, dancing and much merriment in support of Rosshire Women's Aid, which helps support women and young people who are or have previously experienced domestic abuse. Leading participants through the steps will be a star-studded ceilidh band, featuring the likes of Duncan Chisholm, Donald Shaw, Innes Watson, Jarlath Henderson, Su-a Lee, Hamish Napier, Lauren MacColl and Rachel Newton.
And last but certainly not least, the organisation Fèisean nan Gàidheal, which helps develop community-led Gaelic arts tuition festivals across Scotland, are spearheading a range of events in local halls and community centres across the Highlands in support of the Highlands Support Refugees and HiMRA (Highland Migrant and Refugee Advocacy), both of which work to help resettle and support refugees in local communities.
Folk accordionist Gary Innes will be playing a gig at Shielbridge Hall in Acharacle, while both Inverness' Spectrum Centre and Nairn Community Centre will be hosting rollicking ceilidhs. At the Aros Centre, Urras an Eilein will be hosting an evening of traditional song and storytelling that will feature appearances by artists Christine Primrose, Kathleen Macinnes, Stuart Jackson and more. Over at Strathy Village Hall, the trad music trio Project Smok — made up of Ali Levack (pipes and whistles), Pablo Lafuente (guitar) and Ewan Baird (bodhrán) — will be staging a performance of their trademark blistering virtuosity, joined by emerging musicians from Feis air an Oir.
So why sit on the sidelines this St Andrew's Day? Join the movement and help bring about a better, fairer and kinder world – simply by connecting with those around you.
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