Summer Festivals 2014: the five best fests for culture vultures
Featuring Solas, Yestival, Bloody Scotland and the Edinburgh Mela
A 10-minute drive from Perth, the picturesque Bield at Blackruthven hosts the fifth Solas Festival this summer. With events for all ages, Solas is a breeding ground for exciting political and cultural debate – Alasdair Gray and Liz Lochhead will both attend this year. King Creosote, Rachel Sermanni and RM Hubbert are on the bill too, along with comedians Josie Long and Robin Ince. Hector Bizerk and Stanley Odd will even host a hip-hop workshop for younger revellers.
The Bield at Blackruthven, Perth, Fri 20–Sun 22 Jun.
National Collective's profile has grown rapidly of late. Founded in 2011, this creative community of Yes-voters now has over 2000 members in Scotland. It's set up a range of cultural projects to inspire alienated audiences and last year, its lively, politically engaged website was even threatened with legal action by controversial No campaign donor Ian Taylor.
This summer, they're hosting Yestival – a grassroots touring festival that will bring Scottish arts and cultural events to communities around the country.
'Too many people feel alienated by polemic debate, and understandably so,' says National Collective director Ross Colquhoun. 'We want to make politics exciting again – make it colourful and relevant to people’s everyday lives.
'Yestival will be colourful, exciting and unpredictable. We will work with local communities, make use of local spaces creatively, take over village halls, create pop-up libraries, invite local speakers and performers to contribute as well as bringing a touring band of National Collective performers with us as we travel.'
Precise details are yet to be revealed but Colquhoun promises a range of surprises. But he can divulge that the Edinburgh leg of Yestival will feature a wide range of events, including lectures, interactive art-works, comedy and club nights at Summerhall. Several prominent Yes voters in the arts community are already on board too, including writer Alan Bissett, theatre-makers David Greig and Kieran Hurley, and musicians RM Hubbert and Julie Fowlis.
Colquhoun explains: 'Yestival is like holding up a mirror to communities with an imaginative vision of what Scotland could be: a country that celebrates diversity, creativity, tolerance, aware of where we have come from and not afraid of where we are going. If people feel a part of that, if they can believe in that, we believe that they will feel compelled to vote Yes for Scotland’s future.'
Nationwide, Mon 30 Jun–Sun 3 Aug.
Culture 2014 may be entertaining the whole of Scotland this year, but Festival 2014 is Glasgow's very own Commonwealth Games-time celebration. There'll be four key festival hubs around the city: Glasgow Green Live Zone, the Merchant City Festival, the historic Kelvingrove Bandstand and pop-up festival BBC at the Quay. The full programme launches in early June, but among the events already revealed are Classical Marathon Day, led by Nicola Benedetti, and the return of the Vintage Festival.
Glasgow, Sat 19 Jul–Sun 3 Aug.
Now in its 20th year, the Edinburgh Mela transforms Leith Links into a riot of colour, dance, music and food over the last weekend of August, bringing together the city's diverse communities for a celebratory couple of days. There's world music on the main stage and exhilarating international dance performances at the Mela World Dance Feste, while the tantalising stalls at the World Food Village mean it's a good idea to arrive with an empty stomach.
Leith Links, Edinburgh, Fri 29–Sun 31 Aug.
Stirling's Bloody Scotland festival – which celebrates the flourishing Scottish and international crime fiction scene – is only in its third year but is already one of the country's best-loved book events. Last year's line-up included local favourites Val McDermid, Denise Mina and Alex Gray, plus Scandi superstars Arne Dahl and Jo Nesbo, not to mention crime royalty Lee Child. It also awards the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award. This year's programme is revealed on Wed 4 Jun.
Stirling, Fri 19–Sun 21 Sep.