Things to do in Scotland when it’s dead

  • The List
  • 12 August 2010
Things to do in Scotland when it’s dead

part of Gourmet Glasgow

Kirstin Innes puts together a Festival experience without setting foot in Edinburgh

So, apparently there’s some sort of small gathering happening in Edinburgh, and that means the rest of the country is effectively closed for business? Er, wrong. Here’s our essential guide to getting yourself a festival experience without going to the capital.

Rather than paying through the nose to sit passively in a darkened room with 12 uncomfortable strangers while some bloke who almost appeared on Mock the Week runs through a hastily shoehorned set of Raoul Moat jokes, why not express yourself? In Glasgow, Bar Bloc’s rather lovely interactive orchestra (yes, it’s called Blochestra) is carrying on regardless – bring any sort of instrument you’ve got hanging around the house (we suspect they may even accept a comb and paper) for a combination workshop and jam session led by Craig Grant from Union of Knives (Mon 9 Aug, Bloc, Bath Street, 9pm). More music-making at the Arches, where Scottish bhangra outfit Tigerstyle are running two workshops in creative music-making (Arches, Argyle Street, Thu 5 &12 Aug, 6pm, call 07811 097821).

Welcome Home on Keith Street are running a Zine Workshop, led by Marceline Smith, who writes Asking For Trouble and Jen Collins (hellojenuine) for those who reckon this magazine publishing business looks pretty easy (Welcome Home, Keith Street, Sun 8 Aug, 2pm, call 0141 334 9598), while artists can either work their easels at GOMA’s potraiture workshop (Sun 8 Aug, 1pm) or at that hardy perenium —– sorry, we mean perrenial – Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, where burlesque dancers and drag artists reveal themselves for the pleasure of your pencil (Arches, Sun 8 Aug, 4pm, 0141 565 1000). Incidentally, Dr Sketchy’s ought to fill your exhibitionist-in-eyeliner quota for this year too – see, no need to go anywhere near the Royal Mile!

Foodie types in Glasgow should take advantage of the slightly quieter restaurants to pick up special offers: Gourmet Glasgow is a culinary festival with dining deals in restaurants across the city, including Red Onion, Alla Turca and Café Andaluz, as well as a number of special events throughout August (look out for the Sunday afternoon teas with string quartets in Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery). Full details at

Finally, if you’ve sworn off Edinburgh but still need a bit of a Fringe in your life, take a wander down to North Berwick, where the Fringe By the Sea (Tue 10–Sun 15 Aug) will be recreating the Fringe atmosphere in a slightly more relaxed fashion. So, out with the screaming street performers, Dizzee Rascal, bloated stand-up programme and high falutin’ Book Festival, in with wandering Pavement Poem-Catchers, lo-fi folk gigs featuring Eddi Reader and Julie Fowlis, a select Scottish comedy programme and talks from Quintin Jardine and Simon King, OBE. We particularly like the look of the film festival programme, and the historical walking tours of the town. They’ve even got a Spiegeltent, and the fish and chips are guaranteed to be better. Probably no salt and sauce, though.
See for details.

Fringe by the Sea

With a spot of sea air and an entertaining line-up of music, comedy, theatre, film, author and children’s events, North Berwick's multi-arts festival offers a respite from the madness of Edinburgh in festival season. The 2019 acts will be announced in due course.

Various venues: North Berwick

Fri 2 Aug 2019

Times & prices vary / 07721 910982

Sat 3 Aug 2019

Times & prices vary / 07721 910982

Sun 4 Aug 2019

Times & prices vary / 07721 910982

…and 7 more dates until 11 Aug 2019

Gourmet Glasgow

Themed and fixed price menus, wine tastings and demonstrations all across the city. For details of participating restaurants, and to book, go to Part of Piping Live!


Creative music making programme headed by Scottish bhangra outfit Tigerstyle.

Blochestra/ Block Jam

Bring along any instrument you might have (from tubas to triangles) for an open door orchestra jam from 12pm followed by an open mic at 9pm.

Zine Workshop

A chance to learn about the wonderful world of zines with Marceline Smith (Asking For Trouble) and Jen Collins (hellojenuine). Have a go at making your own and browse a selection of classics and future classics from the last 20 years. Drop-in event.

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