Pop up festival Scot:Lands takes over Edinburgh on New Year's Day
Free music, theatre, art and dance across Edinburgh's Old Town on 1 January 2016
‘The perfect way to nurse a hangover,’ is how Vic Galloway describes his experience of attending Scot:Lands last year, and he’s not wrong. Not that the BBC Radio Scotland DJ and go-to champion of young Scottish bands tends to wake up with a sore head on the 1st of January, because he’s generally working the night before; this year, hosting the Waverley Stage at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. In 2016 he’ll be presenting one of the many pop-up arts spaces bringing life to the city on the first day of the year.
Now going into its third year, Scot:Lands already feels like a welcome and exciting tradition in a city which was previously inert on New Year’s Day. An afternoon-long pop-up festival, it features various curated arts events in locations around the city centre, each reached by meeting at a designated starting point and selecting the next stop by chance. It’s a bespoke experience for locals, tourists, families and arts lovers, and it makes full use of Edinburgh’s hidden spaces for an engaging winter’s day out.
Beginning this year in Edinburgh’s Old College rather than the National Museum, the lineup will include a Chemikal Underground showcase with musicians RM Hubbert, Emma Pollock and Miaoux Miaoux, music from Blazin’ Fiddles with guests Adam Holmes and Rachel Sermanni, a diverse art and music fusion from Skye’s Atlas Arts, and a presentation of Dalziel + Scullion’s installation ‘Tumadh is Turas: Immersion & Journey’ live-soundtracked by the Aidan O’Rourke trio. There will also be dance, film, a kids’ area and a closing ceilidh at the National Museum of Scotland.
‘I’m fairly ambivalent about New Year’s Eve, in all honesty,’ says poet Rachel McCrum, Broad in the Rally & Broad partnership, who are bringing their celebrated spoken word night to Scot:Lands. ‘Fireworks and all that. Maybe a small brandy. I do, however, really love New Year’s Day. All that fresh start nonsense, a swoosh of the slate. I love the ritual of it.’ She enjoyed last year’s event. ‘It was kinda wonderful. The lighting was incredibly dramatic, and the music loud, which was appropriate on a strange, otherworldly kind of day. January the 1st is a weird old day. It felt good to be moving in crowds of other bleary-eyed, excited, discombobulated folk.’
She and Rally (Jenny Lindsay) have programmed a bunch of R&B regulars for the cosy-sounding Coorie-In:Land, including Biff Smith and Caroline Evens from the band A New International, poets Colin McGuire, Calum Rodger and Rachel Amey, performance artists Rose Ruane and Rebecca Green, dancer Skye Reynolds ‘and the pair of us, spraffing on’. Galloway’s Lyrical:Land, meanwhile, welcomes Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble, fresh from his Concert in the Gardens performance the night before, the Mercury-nominated C Duncan, SAY award 2015 winner Kathryn Joseph, Supermoon (formerly known as Meursault) and poet and Neu! Reekie! founder Michael Pederson.
‘The lyrical theme focuses on words and music,’ says Galloway, ‘and I hope each performer will perhaps concentrate on stories they have of "home" and life in modern Scotland. The venue’s a secret just now, but it’s in central Edinburgh and rarely, if ever, used as a music or spoken word arena throughout the year. All the acts will be acoustic, or as near to it as possible, so the shows will feel intimate, personal, stripped-back and relaxed – perfect for January the 1st, I hope. The sheer quality of the artists involved and the environs will be very special indeed.’
‘Special’ is a good word. Scot:Lands is a lovely, inspiring day out which puts Edinburghers and visitors in touch with the city on a day which is built up to feel like something special is happening; it would be a small tragedy were reported cuts to Hogmanay funding to affect this ingenious advert for Edinburgh. ‘I had a stoic Hogmanay in 2014, staying in, writing some verse and saying goodbye to a tumultuous year,’ says Lindsay. ‘I then did my tax return on January the 1st, but I felt like a bit of a sad bastard. This will be much more fun.’
Scot:Lands is at various venues around Edinburgh on Fri 1 Jan.