But with the Scottish Government pencilling in a date for small-scale events to return in May and promising help for major events to return this summer, there have been a flurry of optimistic announcements
Capers in Cannich
With the majority of the festivals normally staged across the Highlands and Islands falling victim to the pandemic for a second year, a brand new event has been earmarked for a farm in Inverness-shire.
The “Highland glamping experience,” which is due to be launched at the end of May at Invercannich Farm, at the foot of the Glen Affric hills, is billed as the first festival in Scotland to be created in response to Covid.
Organisers are hopeful that there will be enough demand for the event, which will see festivalgoers stay in their bubbles in luxury bell tents, for it to run throughout the summer.
East Neuk Festival
Classic, folk, jazz and roots concerts for live audiences are planned to be staged in locations along the villages of the Fife coastline over the first weekend in July.
Other highlights of the event, including the return of the festival’s famous sand drawings to Elie Beach, the creation of a vast labyrinth in the grounds of Kellie Castle in Pittenweem, and a “Band in a Van” touring around and putting on pop-up performances.
The festival, which was first staged in 2004, has also lined up full audio and online programmes, with oud player Rihab Azar, violinist Benjamin Baker, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, guitarist Sean Shibe and pianist Llŷr Williams appearing in specially-commissioned films.
Arbroath Festival 2020+1
A huge programme of events had been put in place to mark the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath in 2020. But, rather than abandon them, the Angus town has instead reinvented them.
Two and a half months of events and artistic projects are expected to transform the former royal burgh and surrounding areas.
Highlights include an art trail through the streets of Arbroath, pop-up performances and musical recitals, a festival flags project for its high street, and an open-air show to be performed in the dunes of Lunan Bay.
It’s just over a year since all of Edinburgh’s festivals were forced to pull the plug on their usual programmes for 2020 and 12 months on there is still uncertainty over how they will go ahead this year.
However the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe and the city’s celebrations of books, film and jazz are all expected to return with in-person events this summer if everything goes according to plan with the vaccine roll-out and efforts to keep Covid under control.
Expect more events to be staged outdoors than in previous years, while Edinburgh’s year-round cultural venues are also likely to be deployed as part of efforts to reunite audiences and performances. Two new festival hubs could emerge at the Johnnie Walker visitor centre at the west end of Princes Street and the St James Quarter in the east end, both due to open before August.
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
While this year’s Edinburgh Festival is unlikely to look anything like it has been in recent years, organisers of the Tattoo very much planning for the show to bounce back in style.
Ticket sales were launched back in October for the event, which is expected to go ahead with a limited capacity even if social distancing is still in place in August.
The first Tattoo to be overseen by new chief executive Buster Howes and new creative director Michael Braithwaite is expected to be staged before a largely Scottish and UK-wide audience due to the prospect of international travel restrictions remaining in place.
Delayed by six months by the pandemic, V&A Dundee’s celebration of nightclubs and club culture will open in May against a dramatically different backdrop due to the lengthy and ongoing closure of every venue in the country.
Scotland’s legendary club nights will be recalled alongside showcases of the world’s leading venues, as the history of nightclubbing is charted from the 1960s to the pandemic, when DJs and dance music fans had to adapt to live streams and living room clubbing.
As restrictions are eased during the run of the exhibition, which will be at V&A Dundee until January, expect the museum to start to host its own unique Night Fever events.
Fringe by the Sea
Fringe by the Sea, the annual cultural celebration hosted by the East Lothian coastal town North Berwick, is billed as Scotland’s freshest festival and it’s already shaping up to be one of the most eclectic in the country this year.
Musical acts include disco diva Candi Staton, Fun Lovin’ Criminals frontman Huey Morgan, Hebridean rockers Peat & Diesel, British electronica stars Basement Jazz and Scottish folk favourite Rab Noakes.
However other big names will include stand-up star Janey Godley, author Irvine Welsh and broadcaster Gail Porter.
Scotland's biggest music festival appeared to be hanging in the balance a few weeks ago due to huge uncertainty over whether the Scottish Government’s reluctance to follow the UK Government and lift social distancing restrictions at the end of June. An announcement by Nicola Sturgeon about the return of live events in the middle of May, the same day as south of the border, came with the crucial caveat that they would only be permitted on a small scale initially.
TRNSMT’s organisers DF Concerts have bought themselves more time by delaying the festival till September, in the hope that a full-capacity festival can go ahead on Glasgow Green.
Although the majority of its planned line-up has remained intact, including appearances from Liam Gallagher, Courteeners, Snow Patrol, Twin Atlantic and Amy Macdonald, headliner Lewis Capaldi pulled the plug on his appearance to concentrate on a new album, with The Chemical Brothers replacing him as Sunday night headliners.