Events in Scotland 2024: 15 highlights of the year ahead in Scotland's arts and culture calendar
There is no shortage of arts and culture events and projects to look forward to in 2024. Films, TV series, stage shows, exhibitions and new attractions are among the early highlights of the year ahead.
Jekyll & Hyde, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, January 13-27
It is less than three years since the last major adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Victorian novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was launched in Scotland.
Last time round, Lorn Macdonald and Henry Pettigrew led a 13-strong cast of the theatre-film production the National Theatre of Scotland staged and shot at Leith Theatre.
Elsewhere in Stevenson’s home city of Edinburgh, the Royal Lyceum Theatre is preparing to turn his classic story “on its head” with stage-and-screen star Forbes Masson stepping out of the shadows and into a one-man production, written by Gary McNair and directed by Michael Fentiman.
Andy Warhol: The Textiles, Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, January 26-May 18
Recently discovered textile work by Andy Warhol, from his early career as a commercial designer and illustrator, will be going on display at the gallery.
His depictions of ice cream sundaes, apples, colourful buttons, cut lemons, pretzels and jumping clowns will all feature in the showcase. This exhibition is drawn for a period in Warhol’s life when his work was almost entirely devoted to the demands and deadlines of professional clients.
It is expected to demonstrate how textile and fashion design was a “crucial stage in Warhol becoming one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century”.
Poor Things, cinemas across Scotland, January 12
More than 30 years after Alasdair Gray’s much-loved novel was published, a big-screen adaptation has been one of the most-discussed new movies since its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September.
Emma Stone has won huge acclaim for her performance as Bella Baxter, a young woman brought back to life by a surgeon and scientist, played by Willem Dafoe, who puts a baby’s brain inside her head.
The dark comedy, which sees Bella head off on a globe-trotting odyssey with Mark Ruffalo’s slick and debauched lawyer character Duncan Wedderburm, has been hailed as a “feminist reimaging” of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Hamilton, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, February 28-April 27
It is nearly 20 years since Lin-Manuel Miranda performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Freestyle Love Supreme, with the New York hip-hop comedy improv group he formed during rehearsals for his first musical In the Heights.
It would be another ten years before Miranda launched the show, which would become one of the most successful stage musicals of all-time – based on one of America’s founding fathers. Alexander Hamilton, who was born in the West Indies to the son of a Scotsman, but was orphaned as a child, would go on to become George Washington's right-hand man during the American Revolutionary War in the late 18th century.
More than six years after the Broadway sensation arrived in London’s West End, the show is finally touring the UK and will have a nine-week run after a much-anticipated opening in Edinburgh.
Perth Museum, opening for Easter 2024
Less than a decade after a threat of demolition was lifted, Perth’s historic City Hall building has been undergoing a £27 million overhaul to turn it into a new “world-class cultural and heritage attraction bringing together historic objects drawn from the Perth and Kinross area going back centuries”.
The star attraction at the new Perth Museum will be the Stone of Destiny, the ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy, which was notoriously seized from Scone Abbey by King Edward I of England, stolen from Westminster Abbey by four Scottish students in 1950 and returned to Scotland in 1996.
Other highlights in the museum, which will have space to house temporary exhibitions, will include a sword made for Bonnie Prince Charlie, which will be returning to Scotland for the first time since it was made in Perth in 1739, a rare Jacobite wine glass and a 3,000-year-old longboat, which was discovered in 2001 in mudflats on the banks of the River Tay.
Nightsleeper, launching on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in early 2024
An array of Scottish screen talent will be appearing in one of the BBC’s big new drama series, the sleeper-train thriller Nightsleeper.
The six-part real drama, which will follow the events on board a Glasgow-London service targeted when Britain’s rail network comes under a cyber attack, will feature the likes of Alex Ferns, Sharon Small, James Cosmo, Daniel Cahill, Lois Chimimba, Katie Leung, Leah MacRae, Scott Reid and Sharon Rooney.
Alexandra Loach and Joe Cole play cyber security expert Abby Aysgarth and off-duty police officer Joe Roag, who is on board the train, as they work together to try to save the lives of hundreds of passengers.
Dear Billy, touring Scotland in May, Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August
Created to mark Sir Billy Connolly’s 80th birthday, the National Theatre of Scotland’s “love letter to The Big Yin” was seen by more than 8,000 people on its first outing across the country in 2023.
Theatre maker Gary McNair has been gathering stories about the legendary Glaswegian comic and entertainer for years, including on the tour of Dear Billy, which sees him joined on stage by two musicians, Simon Liddell and Jill O’Sullivan.
Dear Billy, the first production confirmed for the 2024 Fringe, will be staged at the event 52 years after a breakthrough run at the festival for Connolly with The Great Northern Welly Boot Show.
Before it arrives in Edinburgh for a Fringe run at a yet-to-be-confirmed venue, Dear Billy will be touring to Aberdeen, Glasgow and Inverness.
TRNSMT, Glasgow Green, July 12-14
Organisers DF Concerts turned to a host of sure-fire festival favourites in their initial line-up announcement for Scotland’s biggest outdoor music festival.
Previous TRNSMT headliners Liam Gallagher and the Courteeners are back, along with Calvin Harris, who will be topping the bill a decade on from his headline appearance at T in the Park.
Other TRNSMT favourites confirmed include The Snuts, Gerry Cinnamon, Declan McKenna and Blossoms. However, much of the intrigue over the weekend may come from rare Scottish festival appearances from Shirley Manson’s rock outfit Garbage, Rick Astley and the Sugababes.
Game On, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, June 29-November 3
Twenty years on from its launch by the Barbican arts centre in London, the celebration of the history of video gaming has been seen by more than five million people as it has travelled around the world to 43 venues in 28 countries, being constantly updated along the way.
The exhibition at the National Museum, which draws on more than 60 years of gaming history, will bring together more than 100 playable games under the one roof.
Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tetris, Minecraft, Pokemon, Street Fighter and Guitar Hero will be among the titles celebrated, while the exhibition will also explore how and when technology allowed gaming to be brought into the family home, the cultural influence of iconic characters and Scotland’s key role in the gaming industry.
Dundee Design Festival, Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc, September 23-29
Dundee's national and international reputation as a cultural and creative city has been transformed since it became the UK’s first – and so far only – Unesco City of Design in 2014.
Two years later the city launched its first design festival in a former DC Thompson printworks and after returning there in 2017, popped up in the Keiller Shopping Centre before it was spread across various sites around the city in a post-pandemic edition in 2021.
The fifth incarnation of the event will see the festival transform into a surviving industrial building at the site of the former Michelin tyre factory, which closed down three years ago with the loss of 850 jobs. More than 100 emerging and established Dundonian, Scottish and international designers will be showcased across a 100,000sqft site.
Women in Revolt! Art and Activism in the UK 1970–1990, Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, May 25-January 26, 2025
Powerful and provocative work by more than 100 female artists will be brought together for a Tate Britain show exploring the “radical ideas and rebellious methods” of feminist artists who took a stance on issues like reproductive rights, equal pay and race equality in 1970s and 1980s Britain.
The exhibition, which will feature many works unseen since the 1970s, will highlight the campaigns and networks which changed the face of British culture and paved the way for future generations of artists.
The impact of the women's liberation movement, punk rock music, the AIDS epidemic, the Greenham Common protests and the Section 28 campaigns will be recalled through painting, drawing, sculpture, performance, film and photography.
Maggie & Me, touring to Glasgow, Inverness, Cumbernauld, Dundee and Edinburgh, May 8-June 15
Damian Barr’s award-winning memoir of growing up, coming of age and coming out in 1980s Lanarkshire and Margaret Thatcher’s Britain was in development for several years as a TV series.
But now it is set to be adapted for the stage by Barr himself and James Ley, who has made his name in Scottish theatre with the plays Wild, Long Song to Lavender Menace and Ode to Joy.
The former prime minister will be depicted on stage in the new play, which is described as “a surreal yet so-real rollercoaster ride through Damian’s painful past rediscovering who he really is”.
The Outrun, due to be released in UK cinemas in 2024
Orcadian author and journalist Amy Liptrot scored a huge success with her first book, a memoir recalling her return to her childhood home after more than a decade away and a troubled lifestyle in London.
In German director Nora Fingscheidt’s feature film adaption, four-time Academy Awards nominee Saoirse Ronan plays a young woman who tries to come to terms with her past, and her experiences of drug and alcohol addiction, as she reconnects with the dramatic landscapes of her upbringing.
Stephen Dillane, Nabil Elouahabi, Paapa Essiedu, Danyal Ismail and Saskia Reeves star alongside Ronan in the adaptation, which will get its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January ahead of an expected UK release later in the year.
Rebus, streaming on Viaplay later in 2024
It has been nearly 17 years since author Ian Rankin’s John Rebus character was last adapted for TV, when Ken Stott stepped into the shoes of the Edinburgh detective for the final time.
The character looked as if he made his final appearance in print the same year as he reached retirement age, but has since returned for another seven books, and in two stage plays, most recently with Taggart star John Michie playing the lead role.
Now fans of Rankin and Rebus have a brand new TV series to look forward to, which offers the tantalising prospect of Richard Rankin playing Rebus as a 40-year-old in modern-day Edinburgh. Lucie Shorthouse, Brian Ferguson, Nesha Caplan and Amy Manson have also been cast in a six-part Viaplay series due to be launched in 2024.
To Save The Sea, touring around Scotland in autumn 2024
The climate crisis will inspire a new Scottish stage musical, recalling one of Greenpeace’s biggest ever protests, triggered by oil giant Shell’s decision to dump a defunct oil storage in the middle of the North Sea.
Theatre company Sleeping Warrior, who were behind the recent Britpop-inspired musical Battery Park, will be touring the country with To Save The Sea, which will recall the lengthy occupation of Brent Spar by activists who called for a ban on all Shell service stations.
The new musical, created by Andy McGregor and Isla Cowan, is said to be “about Scotland and the world, about saving the environment and standing up for what you believe in”.
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