Say what you will about this silly little island, we know how to put on a festival. In Scotland, as the days get longer and taps come aff in sweltering 18-degree heat, it means one thing. Festival season. There’s almost a festival for every day, for every occasion and for every flavour of person, which can err on the side of overwhelming, so here’s a wee selection of the festivals we are daydreaming about while we’re looking out our window at the dreich weather.
30th March till 1st April
What’s that sound? Oh, it’s just the experimental live art performers humming in the distance, preparing for this year’s BUZZCUT festival. Expect dance, sculpture, ritual, cabaret, durational performance and soundscapes from Scotland and beyond. All shows are pay-what-you-can apart from the end party, which really looks worth the £ and queer as heck, with Mavi Veloso and Chardonnay Emerald (and so many more) performing into the wee hours. Are you buzzing? We are.
19th till 28th May
Talks, workshops, readings, books, books, and more books!
We’re impatiently waiting on the line-up, but we’re certain there’ll be plenty on offer for those who love books and want to celebrate the people who make them. Everything you’d expect from Glasgow’s Book Festival, aye, right?
PERTH FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
Various Locations, Perth
18th till 27th May
No sleeping on Perth when it comes to festivals. The arts festival always hosts a variety of events, and our interest is piqued by the billed performance of The World of the Gods with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers, which explores the tumultuous and ethereal elements through sound. There’ll also be a Festival Comedy Night starring Iain Stirling and ‘Scotland Trending’, showcasing up-and-coming singer-songwriters in Scotland. If one of your ideal dinner party guests is Richard E Grant, you’re going to want to get yourself a ticket to an evening with him, stat.
Various Locations, Dumfries & Galloway
27th till 29th May
A festival for nosy art lovers, Spring Fling is a visual art and craft open studio event. Peek inside the workshop and processes of artists practising in Dumfries & Galloway, and if you’re lucky they may even share some creative secrets with you. Can’t think of many better ways to spend a May bank holiday weekend than snooping around in artists’ offcuts and picking their brains.
3rd till 4th June
Happy 10th Birthday, Riverside Festival! Ten is probably too young to attend Scotland’s premier electronic music festival. Less cake and pass the parcel, more vodka Red Bulls and relentless rhythms; the line-up includes Denis Sulta, Gloss, Junglehussi, Mall Grab, Paula Temple, and much, much more.
Raehills Meadows, Dumfries & Galloway
8th till 11th June
Get lost in music at this year’s Eden festival, with Sister Sledge headlining (sorry, had to do it). Eden is a relaxed, all-age friendly music festival nestled in idyllic meadows with paddling opportunities for the brave. Line-up highlights include Glasgow African Balafon Orchestra and Rum Shack residence Glitch41.
GLASGOW JAZZ FESTIVAL
Various venues, Glasgow
14th till 18th June
Glasgow Jazz fest has been going since 1987 and has been serving stacked line-ups (starting with Miss Sarah Vaughan and Benny Carter) ever since. They’re committed to nurturing new talent while also showcasing the greats, so we wait with bated breath alongside you fine readers to see who they’ve got this year.
Errol Park, Perthshire
16th till 18th June
A midsummer festival miles away from Midsommar (no ritual sacrifices on offer). While devoted to providing an entertaining weekend of global music and art practices, the weekend is peppered with ethical and voice-enhancing practices, such as debates with activists and thinkers of various disciplines. Food for the soul, the community, the earth, and the mind.
REFUGEE FESTIVAL SCOTLAND
16th till 26th June
The theme of this year’s festival is Hope – and lord knows we could all do with a bit more of that in our lives – in celebration of all the beautiful, enriching contributions refugees have made and continue to make to Scotland. The festival provides people with refugee backgrounds with a platform to share their art in whatever form it takes, be it music, poetry, film, art, dance, or food. Expect a full belly, heart, and mind.
7th till 9th July
TRNSMT needs no introduction. Even those who’ve never been to the festival have heard the dulcet tones of Gerry Cinnamon emanating from Glasgow Green, wondering if it’s TRNSMT time again or if maybe Cinnamon is a friendly Scottish banshee calling you to the grave. On a cheerier note, our line-up highlights include cover stars Uninvited (check the interview in this issue), Joesef (whose new album really does slap as much as the people are saying), and of course Cloth (is SNACK a Cloth stan magazine? Maybe). Catch them plus Pulp, Royal Blood, The 1975, Warmduscher, The Big Moon, Hamish Hawk, Swim School, Dream Wife and more.
EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL
The Book Festival Village,
Edinburgh College of Art
12th till 28th August
If there’s something Edinburgh does well it’s international festivals, and the book festival is no exception. Last year’s line-up boasted contributions of over 550 writers, illustrators, politicians, thinkers and all-round interesting folk from all over the world, with events both in person at the specially installed Book Festival village and online. We expect this year’s instalment to be no exception.
KELBURN GARDEN PARTY
Kelburn Castle & Estate
30th June till 3rd July
Previous punters often use the word ‘magical’ to describe Kelburn Garden Party. A versatile festival that is as laid-back or as full-on as you make it. You may start to mistake yourself for a fairy from the glen, surrounded by sounds (dance music, folk, funk, disco, dub, jungle, alt pop etc.) from all over the world. We’re excited for Rival Consoles, Sacred Paws, AiiTee, Comfort, Kobi Onyame, and Oceanallover.
DUNDEE WOMEN’S FESTIVAL
Various venues, Dundee
4th till 19th March
Dundee Women’s Festival is an annual fortnight of grassroots events inspired and programmed around International Women’s Day (8th March). All events are free (though most require advance booking) and are run by local groups and organisations overseen by the festival committee, programmed around this year’s theme of ‘Women Emerging Stronger’. There is a raft of uplifting activities celebrating women’s history and gender equality, hosted in exciting venues such as the city’s museums, galleries, libraries, and Dundee University.
Various venues, St Andrews, online
9th till 12th March
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the annual St Andrew’s poetry festival StAnza has taken wildness as this year’s theme, subtitled intriguingly as ‘WILD: forms of resistance’. With in-person readings, round-table discussions, and open mics programmed alongside 40+ online sessions, there’s something for everyone to pique an interest in poetry. This year’s newly announced festival poets-in-residence are JJ Fadaka and Gabriela Milkova. These residencies, supported by the Edwin Morgan Trust, promise to increase diverse voices in poetry.
HEBRIDEAN DARK SKIES FESTIVAL
An Lanntair, Various locations, Isle of Lewis
9th till 21st March
Now in its fifth installation, the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival, run by arts hub An Lanntair, is a beacon of creativity for Stornoway and the surrounding isles. Spanning the intersection of arts and astronomy, festival highlights include planetarium shows, stargazing trips, and live music, art, and theatre inspired by the cosmos. Two of the major shows are run by Edinburgh-based organisations – Dynamic Earth and design studio Ray Interactive – showcasing the capital’s talent to an island audience.
Ovo Hydro, Glasgow
10th till 12th March
This year marks a decade of C2C: Country to Country festival, Europe’s biggest country music festival, a three-day arena event which tours major cities. It showcases exciting emerging talent from Nashville alongside world-class country stars. One to watch out for on the bill is Australian singer/songwriter Morgan Evans, whose debut self-titled album earned him recognition at the American Country Music Association Awards.
GLASGOW INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL
Various venues, Glasgow
15th March till 2nd April
The 20th annual Glasgow International Comedy Festival has something to put a smile on everyone’s faces, with more than 20 diverse genres and venues, including a prison, alongside the usual suspects of bars, pubs, clubs and theatres. Susie McCabe presents new material in her show Femme Fatality, as does another familiar face from TV, Fern Brady, with her fifth tour of Autistic Bikini Queen. The Sir Billy Connolly Spirit of Glasgow Award is to be announced at the Closing
GLASGOW SHORT FILM FESTIVAL
Various venues, Glasgow
22nd till 26th March
Glaswegians are spoiled for choice for film, with the city hosting Scotland’s largest competitive short film festival as an annual showcase that champions cinema talent. Through its programme of international and Scottish short film competitions, GSFF has earned an international reputation for quality curation since its inception in 2008. This year the festival opens with a screening of OMOS, directed by Rhys Hollis, accompanied by live performances from Hollis and opera singer Andrea Baker. Check out our review of OMOS – a homage to Scotland’s untold Black history – in this issue (page 59).
The Hippodrome, Bo’ness
22nd till 26th March
Short for Hippodrome Silent Film Festival, HippFest is a unique annual cinematic event based at its namesake cinema, Scotland’s oldest purpose-built picture house, lovingly restored by prominent local architect Matthew Steele. Here, across five days, filmgoers can experience the best of international silent film accompanied by live music from world-class musicians. Highlights include the UK premiere screening of Ukrainian avant-garde film In Spring (1929) and an accompanying cultural event with traditional pysanky Easter egg decoration.
Read our interview with Bryony Dixon, silent film curator at HippFest, for more.
Various Venues, St Andrews
14th till 16th April
This year heralds the second instalment of Sands: International Festival Film Festival of St Andrews, which debuted with its inaugural event last year, making waves in the cultural calendar for the coastal Scottish town. St Andrew’s University alumna Ania Trzebiatowska is directing the festival (and she programmes Sundance Film Festival, so expect impeccable curation). Sands takes cues from the theme of ‘Beginnings’, curating exciting work by promising early-career filmmakers worldwide.
The Royal Highland Centre & Showground, Edinburgh
8th till 9th April
Named for its proximity to Edinburgh airport, Terminal V is a destination for techno and house fans from Scotland and beyond. The line-up boasts some of the finest electronic music talent around such as Chippy Nonstop, Eclair Fifi, Ida Engberg, Charlotte de Witte, TAAHLIAH, acclaimed beatboxer SK Shlomo, and producer Jayda G.
25th till 28th May
We’ve previously described Knockengorroch as a festival where ‘you will be plied with more smiles, more glitter, more hugs, more music, more offers of victuals, more warmth than ever before in your life.’ What else could you want? This year’s festival theme is ‘silver’, citing the Celtic mythology of whoever possesses the silver branch is granted passage into ‘the otherworld’. Lined up to take you by the hand to the other world is Mungo’s Hi Fi Soundsystem with Marina P And Solo Banton, Rokia Koné (we’re excited to see her solo performance after her gig as part of Les Amazones d’Afrique in 2018), violin master Akram Abdulfattah, and more. What’s more, the Knockengorroch site lies within Galloway and Southern Ayrshire’s UNESCO Biosphere. The Knock bus is the eco way to travel from Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Various venues, Glasgow
6 till 9th April
The always-inspiring festival of boundary-pushing performance returns for its 11th year, with a bill of artists ranging from improvised noise to club bangers and all points in between. A slate of venues around the city will host international artists like Lebanese free improv group “A” Trio, as well as some of the best of the Scottish underground: Proc Fiskal’s bass-heavy breaks, genre-leaping madness from Boosterhooch and a very special 75th birthday tribute to improvised-music matriarch Maggie Nicols.
26th till 27th May
From the producers of Juniper Festival and Summerhall comes a new and expanded festival of spirits. Taste everything from hyper-local gins, international rums and highland whiskies, alongside quirky food pairings, music, and more. Welcome summer with a drink, a bite and a good day out.
COLONSAY FESTIVAL OF SPRING
Various locations, Colonsay
24th April till 8th May
The Colonsay Festival of Spring is a well-established event in the island’s calendar. Visitors and locals come together to enjoy this magical season and learn more about the rich natural heritage of the island through a whole host of guided walks, activities and events. From discovering archaeological heritage, wildflowers and birds, to foraging and dry stone walling, they have a number of outstanding experts in their fields to lead the various walks, talks and activities.
ALCHEMY FILM AND MOVING IMAGE FESTIVAL
Various locations, Hawick
27th till 30th April
The thirteenth edition of Scotland’s festival of experimental film returns to Hawick for an international programme of cinema screenings, moving-image exhibitions, live performances – and, importantly, the Festival Ceilidh!
The line-up for ‘23 includes the world premiere of a new commission by Natasha Thembiso Ruwona; a suite of new films by Alchemy artist-in-residence Julia Parks; and live performances from Maxime Jean-Baptiste and Alchemy residents Jules Horne and Miwa Nagato-Apthorp. Cinema screenings include new work by current Margaret Tait Award nominees Rhona Mühlebach and George
Various Venues, Edinburgh
28th April till 8th May
Edinburgh Tradfest returns with a fantastic line-up of live music, talks, and new commissions, at the Traverse and various venues across the city. Opening the festival is two-time winner, and six-time Grammy nominee Rhiannon Giddens performing with multi-instrumentalist, pianist and composer Francesco Turrisi. Over the 11 days of the festival more than 100 artists and musicians will perform. From Scotland there will be Shetland pianist Amy Laurenson – recently crowned BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Musician of the Year 2023.
There will be spell-binding vocals and harmonies from Orcadian powerhouse FARA; trailblazing cellist Juliette Lemoine (who counts SAY-award winning pianist Fergus McCreadie among her A-list backing band); nu-folk singer-songwriter and ukulele musician Zoë Bestel; and, to close the festival, Ross Ainslie (Treacherous Orchestra, Salsa Celtica) and Tim Edey (The Chieftans) playing an unmissable festival finale of foot-stomping tunes topped with great banter. We can’t miss mentioning ‘Two For Joy’ composed and arranged by award-winning harpist Ailie Robertson, which explores the use of birdsong in music and folklore, and the positive impact that listening to birdsong has on our mental health. Sounds bliss.
City Halls, Glasgow
29th till 30th April
Tectonics, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s festival of new and experimental music, celebrates ten years of ground-breaking music this April. Conceived by the orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor, Ilan Volkov, and co-curated by Alasdair Campbell (Counterflows) the festival has blurred the lines between musical genres since 2013 and continues to question what music can be.
This year’s line-up includes the Colombian musician Lucrecia Dalt, the ‘king of sampling’ Carl Stone, and pianists Aki Takahashi and Cory Smythe.
Packed into the programme you’ll find world premieres of compositions by Somei Satoh, Linda Buckley, Rufus Isabel Elliot, Ian Power, Scott McLaughlin and William Dougherty: inspired by topics as varied as pagan rituals, Julia Kristeva, quantum physics, and an antique wax cylinder recording of ‘Home Sweet Home’. Sold! There’s also the UK premiere of works by Ingrid Laubrock and the late Dutch composer Margriet Hoenderdos. Japanese-Korean artist Ryoko Akama takes up residence in the City Halls’ Recital Room for an installation created uniquely for that space. If you can’t make it to an event in-person, many performances will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 with some available to watch online.
Dundee Contemporary Arts Cinema
11th till 14th May
Hosted and run by DCA, Dundead promises a programme that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The programme is still to be confirmed but they’ve let slip that they will be showing Pearl, a 2022 slasher film directed by Ti West, co-written by West and Mia Goth reprising her role as the title character. Whatever the programme, you can be sure horror classics will sit side by side with some of the best contemporary scares. Boo!
SHETLAND FOLK FESTIVAL
Various locations, Shetland
27th till 30th April
Scotland’s most northerly folk festival is often regarded as the grandaddy of folk festivals. For performers, locals and visitors alike, the festival’s sessions are often sighted as amongst the best in the world. Visiting artists, local talent and a warm welcome are all guaranteed. Volunteer run, rather than hotels, visitors stay in the homes of Folk Festival supporters. How about that for hospitality? Gigs are held all over Shetland and, on the final night, audiences in three large venues are treated to a marathon concert in which everyone has a chance to see all the 15 or so visiting bands.
HIDDEN DOOR FESTIVAL
15 Dalkeith Rd, Edinburgh
31st May till 4th June
Hidden Door will again reach under the surface of Edinburgh’s architectural landscape and this year will host an ambitious series of immersive performances – Environments – specifically designed for the unique venue, along with music from Porridge Radio, Hot 8 Brass Band, Max Cooper, NiNE8, and Pillow Queens.
The Complex at 15 Dalkeith Road (architect John Hardie Glover’s Scottish Widows building) will also host a diverse poetry and spoken word programme and a collection of visual art from Scotland’s best emerging artists over the course of the week.
Much of the programme centres on the theme of Environments, responding to the world around us and the impact we’ve had on it. Environments will run on all five nights of the event, creating a structured journey for the audience to explore The Complex, with several surprises along the way.
Responding to the vast interior spaces, Hidden Door has commissioned stand-out artists from last year’s festival to create a series of Environments for the audience to explore as they venture deeper into the former office building. Featuring live music, dance, film projections, set design and even opera, each Environment is a unique collaboration bringing together visionary emerging artists to talk about our natural world in a unique and imaginative way.
These Environments include a post-nuclear wasteland, a mountain environment inspired by neighbouring Arthur’s Seat, an Anthropocenic Garden (exploring themes of extinction), and a forest of moveable trees. As the audience explore deeper into the venue, they will encounter the Sea Bed, courtesy of artist Alliyah Enyo before ending up deep in the geological depths of the earth and its distant past, curated by Edinburgh electronic music producer Exterior.
SNACK favourites corto.alto, Berta Kennedy, Dinosaur 94, Sweaty Palms, Free Love, Bemz, Rozi Plain, Billy Got Waves, Goodnight Louisa, Peplo, Blush Club, and Josephine Sillars will also be performing.
Sounds perfect, don’t you think?
Get your tickets at hiddendoorarts.org
BY: Lara Delmage, Yasmin Ali, Chris Queen and Kenny Lavelle