The best upcoming events in Scotland for 2012 and 2013

  • Student Guide
  • 31 August 2012
A preview of unmissable events in Scotland over the next 12 months

The Guid Sisters

Featuring Alien Wars, Frankie Boyle, Anna Karenina and Edinburgh's Hogmanay

Over the coming year, Glasgow and Edinburgh are going to blow your mind with their incredible array of cultural offerings. Here are a handful of the events you cannot afford to miss.

Alien Wars

When virtual terror experience Alien Wars opened in London, the then prime minister Tony Blair allegedly showed up, desperate for the chance to be frightened out of his wits by a man in a scary latex costume. He reportedly left the interactive event, based on the Alien movies, a terrified, cowed man. Back to celebrate its 20th birthday by popular demand, this new, enhanced experience is inspired by HR Giger, designer of the Alien movie set, and the re-designed show takes account of the acclaimed horror franchise’s latest successful installment, Prometheus, with new scares, twists and turns at every step, making full use of the Arches’ dark and dank, claustrophobic caverns. You have been warned.
The Arches, Glasgow, open now until Sun 14 Apr 2013,

The Guid Sisters

Enjoy the opportunity to check out some of the country’s greatest acting talents in this revival of the acclaimed Scots translation of Michel Tremblay’s original Québecois play Les Belles-soeurs, which features a 15-strong cast of some of Scotland’s best-known actresses. When Germaine Luzon wins a competition, she calls on her family, friends and neighbours to help. A story about women and economic survival in collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland.
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 20 Sep-Sat 13 Oct; then touring.


A melange of musical styles, DJs and live acts. Django Django’s Dave Maclean spins ‘funky, neo-psyche sounds’ alongside live performances from PET and house band The Cosmic Dead. Excited much? You should be.
Third Door, Edinburgh, Sun 16 Sep.

Anna Karenina

Keira Knightley reunites with her Pride and Prejudice/Atonement director Joe Wright for yet another attempt on the frequently filmed Leo Tolstoy novel, a classic story of ‘girl-meets-boy, girl-loses-boy, girl-meets-train.’ This time around, heavyweight stage and screen scribe Tom Stoppard takes responsibility for the adaptation, hopefully injecting the romantic, tragic dalliances of 19th century Russian high society with the panache he brought to Shakespeare in Love.
On general release from Fri 7 Sep.

Frankie Boyle

Controversial, shocking and in poor taste? Perhaps, but bloomin’ funny with it. Frankie once again tries to heal the country’s fools on a final tour (apparently). No doubt he’ll have saved all his most terrifying material ’til now.
Dundee, Caird Hall, 14-15 Sep; then touring.


Scotland’s biggest celebration of queer culture spreads out from its Merchant City base in October and November, showcasing the finest in LGBT-themed multi-arts entertainment. At the time of writing, the programme was still under wraps, but given that recent years have hosted performers and artists such as Margaret Cho, Louise Welsh and Liz Lochhead, we’re confident there’ll be something that suits you.
Glasgow, Mon 15 Oct–Sat 3 Nov,

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

It’s easy enough to find a party wherever you go on New Year’s Eve, but the capital’s annual Hogmanay bonanza is the big daddy of them all. Aside from the world famous street party, there’s the concert in the gardens, the torchlight procession, the keilidh (it’s how they spell it, honest guv!) and the appropriately named Loony Dook (a freezing splash around the Forth River) on New Year’s Day.
Edinburgh, end of December,

Celtic Connections

Expanding upon its original remit of folk and world music, Celtic Connections now covers a broad range of musical genres, including jazz, blues, rock, electronica, Americana and more. It’s a chance to see some of the most respected musicians in the world come together to celebrate music that transcends national boundaries – and have a good old knees-up while they’re at it.
Glasgow, Thu 17 Jan–Sun 3 Feb,

Glasgow Film Festival

A more populist counterpart to Edinburgh’s annual film fest, the GFF has gone from strength to strength in recent years. In addition to the main programme, the Festival also incorporates several mini-festival strands, including FrightFest, Glasgow Youth Film Festival and the Glasgow Film & Music Festival. Keep your eyes peeled for the programme launch in January.
Glasgow, Thu 14–Sun 24 Feb,

Glasgow Comedy Festival

A collection of the world’s finest comedians descend on Glasgow in March, proving that you don’t have to wait for the Fringe to have your ribs tickled. Ardal O’Hanlon, Doug Stanhope, Frankie Boyle and Daniel Sloss were among the highlights in 2012, with Jimmy Carr already confirmed for 2013.
Glasgow, Thu 14–Sun 31 Mar,

West End Festival

A giant mash-up of film, music, theatre, comedy, art and whatever else you fancy, the West End Festival is Glasgow’s biggest arts happening, usually taking up the better part of June in order to fit everything in. Our perennial favourite is the opening Carnival Parade and Street Party, bringing some bombastic Mardi Gras glamour to Byres Road.
Glasgow, June,


The mountains surrounding Loch Ness form a stunning backdrop to one of Scotland’s finest music festivals. Expect a mash-up of rock and electronica, with Deadmau5, Biffy Clyro, Justice, Mylo and Friendly Fires among the acts who lit up the stage in 2012. Their comedy line-up (headlined by Tim Minchin in 2012) is pretty decent too.
Dores, near Inverness, Fri 7–Sun 9 Jun,

Edinburgh International Film Festival

After a slightly shaky year in 2011, the 2012 EIFF was heralded as a return to form for the world’s oldest continually-running film festival, with Hollywood stars Jim Broadbent and Elliot Gould walking the red carpet for screenings of Disney-Pixar’s Brave and William Friedkin’s Killer Joe. Here’s hoping it builds on this success in 2013.
Edinburgh, June,

T in the Park

The big, muddy jewel in Scotland’s music festival crown, T continues to attract big-name performers of every genre, with The Stone Roses, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, David Guetta and The Strokes rocking up in recent years. It’s also one of the best places to check out up-and-coming Scottish talent, courtesy of the T Break stage.
Balado, near Kinross, July,

Edinburgh Festivals
They’re barely in our rear-view mirror, but we’re already looking forward to next year’s Edinburgh festivals. The International, Jazz and Blues, Politics, Art and Book festivals, as well as the mighty Edinburgh Festival Fringe, make the capital the most vibrant place in the world for the entire month of August – make sure you’re part of it.
Edinburgh, August.

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