This year our great events and festivals are conquering the online world to bring to you the best virtual, digital and hybrid events, so you don’t have to miss out.
Throughout the year Scotland’s cities, towns and villages host eclectic and welcoming events of all genres, interests and themes that everyone can get involved in and enjoy. From adrenaline pumping sporting events, and captivating storytelling pop-ups, to toe-tapping music festivals, and educational talks and workshops, there’s plenty to explore.
Here are just some we know you’ll love, but keep checking back for more additions.
Yep, you heard right! The renowned Edinburgh Festivals are making a return to the capital city this summer, with a whole host of online events and even some interactive in-person shows to get involved in.
- Edinburgh International Science Festival – 26 June – 11 July. This year’s festival explored how we are all connected – to each other, to Planet Earth and to the wider Universe – with the captivating theme of ONE WORLD: Science Connects Us. Online, there was 160 digital events and experiences for all ages, which delivered an exciting mix of exhibitions, presenter-led workshops, science shows, discussions and downloadable family activities. The festival also focused on outdoor experiences too, such as walks, tours, trails, exhibitions and installations.
- Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival – 16 – 25 July. The festival featured over 40 different concerts – 20 live-streamed in front of a small, live audience at Assembly Roxy and 20 pre-recorded, including seven specially-created EXPO projects. The programme saw performances from established acts from across the spectrum of jazz and blues and brilliant opportunities to explore a range of music from the two scenes.
- Edinburgh Art Festival – 29 July – 29 August. This festival’s 17th edition will see over 35 exhibitions and new commissions come together in visual art spaces across the city, as well as an online programme of events and digital presentations. The programme will also feature important retrospectives and major survey shows, and see the return of Platform, the annual showcase supporting artists in the early stages of their careers.
- Edinburgh Festival Fringe – 6 – 30 August. The Fringe is back and prepared to put on an outstanding show this August, whether it’s in person, or online, you won’t be disappointed with the array of shows, performances, talent and more that will be on offer. Stay tuned for more updates and browse the exciting line-up so far.
- Edinburgh International Festival – 7 – 29 August. Live and outdoors, the EIF returns in 2021 with events that are diverse, inspiring, and joyful in some of the city’s most historic locations. Over 170 different shows and productions will be staged at 10 indoor and outdoor locations across the city. There is also an incredible digital programme which can be enjoyed online too.
- Edinburgh International Book Festival – 14 – 30 August. Taking place in the beautiful indoor and open, grassy outdoor spaces of the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh College of Art on Lauriston Place. The event is working hard to host a range of live online author talks, workshops and readings and, if circumstances allow, some events for in person, socially distanced audiences. There will be many live events, as well as online, with authors including Douglas Stuart, Maggie O’Farrell, Alexander McCall Smith, Val McDermid, Salman Rushdie and more set to make an appearance.
- Edinburgh International Film Festival – 18 – 25 August. This year the festival will feature physical screenings and events indoors at the Filmhouse Cinema, and outdoors with Film Fest in the City in St Andrew Square. The festival will also host an online element through Filmhouse at Home, where, alongside the films, viewers can access Q&As and hear first-hand the insights, experiences and passions of directors, filmmakers and actors. Full programme will be released on 28 July.
Year of Coasts & Waters 2021
- RowAround Scotland – 4 June – October. A relay in open rowing boats around the coast of Scotland, organised by Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, whose 70 member clubs will all take part, joining up their communities and promoting Scotland’s wonderful coastline and waters along the way.
- Culzean by the Sea – until 26 September. The National Trust for Scotland’s spectacular cliffside castle of Culzean will be host to new art this summer as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters. A new sculpture trail has opened this month around Culzean Castle and Country Park in Ayrshire – each creation linking to a distinctive aspect of Culzean’s relationship with sea and waterways.
- Defend Fife – 10 – 11 July. This World War II Festival explored Dunfermline and East Scotland in the early-mid 20th century as people prepared for possible invasion during the Second World War.
- Royal Highland Show – 14 – 20 June. The Royal Highland Show hosted their livestreamed ‘behind closed doors’ event. The first of its kind in the UK, the event showcased livestock judging, equestrian, food & drink and rural skills streamed live and in high definition from the Ingliston showground in Edinburgh.
- DolphinFest – This event celebrated the amazing marine wildlife in Aberdeen, with a special focus on the bottlenose dolphins that you can see from Torry Battery. Thes event aimed to raise the profile of the threats marine life face and encourage everyone to help protect it. Keep up to date with future events on their Facebook page and head out to the coast to see if you can spot dolphins yourself.
- MarineFest 2021 – 31 May – 13 June. In 2021, Scotland continues to celebrate its coasts and waters with a programme of activities and events which will shine a spotlight on these vital elements of our landscape. As part of the year, Marine Fest celebrated of Scotland’s amazing coastal habitats and wildlife.
- Cymera Festival 2021 – 4 – 6 June. Over 50 events, more than 70 speakers, workshops, book groups, a quiz and more, which showcased Scotland’s science fiction, fantasy and horror writing.
Arts & Culture
- Gather around the virtual ‘campfire’ with Marjolein Robertson, a comedian, storyteller and Edinburgh Festival veteran. Join her on Monday and Tuesday at 7pm, or Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm as she live streams Shetland folktales and shares hilarious stories about her experiences performing.
- Join in with the Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s online series featuring poetry, storytelling, music and children’s workshops.
- Settle down for a cosy night in with Scottish Opera, who have a growing collection of films available to watch for free on their website. From romantic comedy, to gripping workplace drama, there’s something to suit all tastes.
- Scottish Chamber Orchestra – Tune in to the digital concert of Nicola Benedetti performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra recorded at Perth Concert Hall. Head over to their YouTube Channel, or Facebook, to watch.
- Bloody Scotland – 17 – 19 September. Scotland’s crime writing festival is back and is bringing to you an online programme of various events, including their biggest ever panel of 27 authors across 5 continents.
- StAnza – This digital festival featured live exhibitions, readings, round table events, interactive poetry installations and more which celebrated Scotland’s magnificent culture and artistic talent.
- Chinese New Year – 2021 marks the Chinese Year of the Ox – and in a unique Scottish twist – the Year of the Coo. To celebrate the Chinese New Year, a selection of virtual events, including a Chinese New Year Concert from Edinburgh’s Usher Hall was shown, and is available on YouTube.
- Spring Fling – 29 May – 6 June. The Spring Fling returned in 2021 and took to the online world to showcase the best contemporary visual arts and crafts Dumfries & Galloway has to offer through digital exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations, live talks and more.
- Dundee Women’s Festival – On 8 March International Women’s Day was celebrated all over the world, to recognise women’s rights, their qualities and their achievements. Dundee went the extra mile this year by holding a two-week long festival, showcasing women from other cultures to expand understanding and friend circles, and being more informed about women of the past who have achieved great things.
- Scott 250th Launch – In 2021-22, Scotland celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott, the launch saw four nights of film created on the theme of ‘Young Scott’ being projected onto Scott’s childhood home of Smailholm Tower in Kelso. Find out more about the man behind the legacy.
- Perth Festival of the Arts – 10 days of concerts and events broadcasted from venues around Perth and a Festival Drive-in Cinema at Scone Palace.
- Glasgow International – 11 – 27 June. In 2021, the festival comprised over 70 exhibitions and events, performances and talks over 30 spaces across the city and online, to showcase work by over 100 artists.
- Scottish International Storytelling Festival – 15 – 31 October. Returning in 2021 to showcase the rich, culture scene of Scotland, featuring stories, tales, traditions and more. This year the festival will see the theme of Imagine where visitors will be encouraged to imagine something different, to imagine pasts, futures, or a timeless other. Stay tuned for a full programme of events released in September.
Food & Drink
- Paisley Food & Drink Festival – This year the event embraced a different approach, with an online mouth-watering menu of interactive experiences, including online cooking demonstrations, virtual tasting sessions, music and cocktail making events, interactive workshops, offers from local businesses with Paisley Eats app and much more!
- Crail Food Festival – 2021’s festival featured online events, a virtual market and food trucks in the street over the festival weekend adhering to social distancing rules.
- The Neighbourhood Market – Wed – Sun until 11 July. The first of its kind, a fully contactless open air market created to provide a safe and vibrant environment that creates a platform for local businesses and retailers to return to normal trade after Covid-19.
- The Scottish Chamber Orchestra have recorded their planned programme of concerts in the Queens Hall in Edinburgh and Perth Concert Hall. From Bach to Beethoven and Mozart to Milhaud, a feast of wonderful music will is available to view through the Orchestra’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
- The Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s first ever digital season offers ten glorious concerts film live in the RSNO’s Glasgow studio. Featuring acclaimed artists such as superstar violinist Midori, the series is available on a pay per concert or subscription basis.
- Fly Live & Direct – After a massive success in taking on the online world in 2020 where the broadcast amassed over 50,000 views across multiple platforms, and was nominated for UK’s ‘Best Virtual Festival’, Fly Live & Direct returned for 2021.
- Glasgow Jazz Festival – 18 – 20 June. St Luke’s and the Blue Arrow venues were used to film events, with one event featuring Scottish musicians who are based in London that were filmed at Guildhall School of Music. 4 new pieces of music premiered at the festival, as well as filming a series of “Scottish Women in Jazz” interviews that ran each day.
- St Magnus International Festival – 18 – 23 June. 2021’s festival used primarily outdoor venues within Orkney’s magical landscape to bring Scottish artists and audiences back together to rediscover the joy of live performance at midsummer. In addition to live performances, there was a suite of online content filmed in venues across Orkney during May and June.
- Vinicombe Street Gala – 19 June. The annual Vinicombe Street Gala featured festival fun with live music, street theatre, samba bands, circus performers, children’s activities and more!
- Mansfield Park Street Festival – 26th June. A day of festival fun at Partick’s Mansfield Park! Live music, street play, samba bands, circus performers, stalls and more were featured!
- HebCelt Survival Sessions – 14 – 17 July. HebCelt returned in 2021 with their Survival Sessions that were guaranteed to fill that HebCelt gap in your hearts, albeit in a virtual sense. The weekend event ticket offered a wide range of music, celebrating Scotland’s local language and culture within an exciting programme, brought to you in the comfort of your own home.
- East Neuk Festival – 1 – 4 July. In Fife, Online and On Air; the digital aspect of this festival saw the release of specially recorded performances by festival favourites, including The Tallis Scholars, The Castalian Quartet, Sean Shibe, Ben Baker, and Llŷr Williams, all filmed in the East Neuk of Fife, in a variety of venues, and in some unusual spaces too.
Film & TV
- Hippodrome Silent Film Festival – Fans of HippFest say that the Festival was more than a trip to the cinema, it was an experience – distinctive, eye-opening and enjoyable. The event saw a cocktail of screenings with music, workshops, events and activities that swept you up in the marvellous magic of early cinema.
- Cinescapes 2021 – 1 July – 16 October. This touring film festival is making its way across Scotland, bringing to you some of the best Scottish-themed films ever produced. Starting off with Trainspotting in Leith on 4 July, stay tuned for more coming throughout the year.
- Green Well of Scotland Photography Exhibition – 27 June. This outdoor, Covid-friendly photography exhibition told the story of Carsphairn’s local community and rich heritage.
- Argyll Rally – 25 – 26 June. From forests to closed public roads, this event featured 13 stages, with five stages on the Friday night, and 8 stages on the Saturday. The first two stages on the Friday night were around Dunoon Town Centre, and the remaining 3 stages stretched around the Cowal Peninsular.
If you fancy getting into the great outdoors to explore some of Scotland’s stunning scenery and learn about how the land has been shaped by the elements over the millennia, why not get involved in the Scottish Geology Festival?
Explore more virtual and live streaming events of all genres and topics to keep you busy with The List.