Christmas 2021 Preview!

Christmas Bells are Ringing!

It’s wonderful to be writing this preview piece looking at the biggest and best of what’s on around Scotland this coming festive season. Christmas 2020 for the first time in history saw every single Scottish Theatre and Venue closed to audiences, there was no pantoland or magical festive musical to add sparkle to our festive season.  We approach this festive season with a new sense of thanks for having back what we have all missed so much. So, lets head around the country.


Festival Theatre: 

Scottish Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker

Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker Returns

Costumes plucked from the most gorgeous chocolate box; Tchaikovsky’s score to transport you to a land of dreams; and a story lifted straight from the pages of a classic fairy tale.

We follow Clara on a journey through the worlds of her imagination, as she drifts off to sleep on Christmas Eve. She meets the dashing Nutcracker Prince, takes on the larger-than-life Rat King, and is whisked into the luscious land of sweets by the Sugar Plum Fairy!

Original scheduled for Christmas 2020 with the full Scottish ballet Orchestra this promises to be the ultimate festive treat.

Scottish Ballets The Nutcracker Wed 1st Dec 21 – Fri 31st Dec “1

For tickets go to:

Kings Theatre: 

Crossroads pantomimes present: Sleeping Beauty

Legendary Dame Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and Jordan Young Return to the King’s

The pantomime of your dreams finally arrives at the King’s with legendary Dame Allan Stewart and Edinburgh’s Favourite baddie Grant Stott both returning to the hallowed stage. It what promises to be a special tribute to Andy Gray, the boys are promising the biggest and best Kings panto to date with laughter, music and magic in overdrive it promises to be a very special panto. Joining them once more is Jordan Young and Andy Gray’s daughter Clare Gray.

Sleeping Beauty Sat 27th Nov 21 – Sun 16th Jan 22

For tickets go to:

Edinburgh Playhouse: 

Concord Theatricals Ltd Present Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

from the west end to the Playhouse this Christmas!

A tale of love and friendship, White Christmas features the dazzling songs Blue Skies, Sisters, Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep, The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing, I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm and the most famous festive song of all, White Christmas.

The all singing, all dancing classic musical comes to Edinburgh following a critically acclaimed run at the Dominion Theatre in London’s West End and promises to be the ultimate festive treat.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas Tue 14th Dec 21 – Sun 2nd Jan 22

For tickets go to:

Royal Lyceum Theatre:

The Lyceum presents: Christmas Dinner

The Royal Lyceum Invites you to Christmas Dinner!

After a horrible year, stage hand Lesley has decided that Christmas should be cancelled. The only festive joy she wants is the turkey sandwich in her lunch box. So she is shutting down the theatre, turning off the lights, packing up the glitter curtains, the giant beanstalk, the fake snow and going home to have dinner alone. But as the bells of St Cuthbert’s strike twelve, it seems the theatre has other ideas… from the back of the costume cupboard, a troupe of festive spirits emerge with an absolute sack full of festive cheer. Is this the last thing Lesley needs? or can this strange Christmas Gang and their stories help her feel the magic of Christmas again?

This festive treat is produced by the Royal Lyceum Theatre in association with Catherine Wheels Theatre Company

Christmas Dinner Mon 6th Dec 21 – Sun 2nd Jan 22 

For tickets go to:

The Traverse Theatre:

The Traverse Presents: WILF

The Traverse offers a treat for the adults this Christmas.

This riotous and heartfelt new play from James Ley (Love Song to Lavender Menace), directed by the Traverse’s Artistic Director Gareth Nicholls (Ulster American, Crocodile Fever), takes audiences on a hilarious and unapologetic ride through Scotland as Calvin and Wilf attempt to escape loneliness, cope with mental illness and learn to love themselves, with the help of one another. The Traverse welcomes back its in person audiences this Christmas with an LGBTQI+ treat for adult audiences.

Strong language and adult themes throughout. Frequent graphic references to sex and drug use.

Wilf: Wed 8th Dec 21 – Fri 24th Dec 21

For tickets go to:


Glasgow SEC Armadillo

Crossroads Pantomimes Present: Aladdin

Aladdin flies into the SEC this Christmas!

Glasgow is the only city in the UK to host two Crossroads pantomimes, The 3000 seat Armadillo welcome Aladdin Staring Gary: Tank Commander, River City’s Leah MacRae and Boabby the barman himself Gavin Mitchell. With lashing of comedy, music and sprinkling of  magic it promises to be a true festive treat.

Aladdin Sat 11th Dec 21 – Wed 29th Dec 21

For Tickets go to:

The King’s Glasgow

Crossroads Pantomimes present: Cinderella

The Fairy Godmother of Pantos is back at the Glasgow King’s

Not only does Glasgow have two Crossroads Panto’s this year it also has two Cinderella’s! The Glasgow King’s has been the traditional home of panto for generations blending spectacular sets, costumes, comedy, music and out of this world special effects. The King’s also welcomes back panto royalty in Elaine C Smith and Johnny Mac for the Fairy Godmother of all pantomimes!

Cinderella Sat 27th Nov 21  – Sun 2nd Jan 22

For Tickets go to:

The Pavilion

The Glasgow Pavilion Presents: Cinderella

its only been a couple of years but Cinderella is back at the Pavilion!

The Pavilion panto returned to spectacular form in 2018/19 season with Cinderella so it’s interesting that its back so soon, especially with Cinderella also on stage at the King’s. The Pavilion specialises in family Panto filled with comedy. There also fielding a 9 strong principal cast including Liam Dolan, Scott Fletcher, Alyson Orr with pro wrestler and actor Grado and the ever-cute Stephen Purdon throwing on the stockings and high heels once more as the ugly sisters! Should be rip roaring fun!

Cinderella Fri 3rd Dec 21 – Sat 8th January 22

For tickets go to:

The Theatre Royal:

Cameron Mackintosh Presents: Les Miserables

Storm the barricades this Christmas!

This brilliant new staging has taken the world by storm and has been hailed “Les Mis for the 21st Century”. With scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, the magnificent score of Les Misérables includes the songs I Dreamed a DreamOn My OwnBring Him HomeOne Day MoreMaster Of The House and many more. Seen by over 120 million people worldwide in 52 countries and in 22 languages, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular musicals and makes its return to Glasgow due to public demand this Christmas. 

Les Miserables Tue 23rd Nov 21 – Fri 31st Dec 21

For tickets go to:


His Majesty’s Theatre:

Crossroads Pantomimes Presents: Beauty and the Beast!

its a tale as old as time this Christmas in Aberdeen!

HMT reopens with the most romantic of pantomimes as Beauty and the Beast takes to the stage, with a charming story, music, comedy and special effects that will truly show this is a tale as old as time.

starring River City’s Joyce Falconer, Call The Midwife’s Laura Main, Aberdonian actress Danielle Jam and returning favourites Alan McHugh and Paul‐ James Corrigan. This promises to be a spectacular family treat

Beauty and The Beast, Saturday 4th Dec 21 to Sunday 2nd January 22

For tickets go to:


Eden Court Theatre:

Imagine Pantomimes Present: Cinderella

Pantomime returns to the heart of the Highlands with Cinderella!

Will the Ugly Sisters succeed in ruining Cinderella’s dreams of happiness or will her Fairy Godmother and loyal friend Buttons be able to thwart their wicked plans? Come and join us at the ball and find out! Eden Court and Imagine pantomimes promise a show packed full of side-splitting slapstick comedy, spectacular scenery, breath-taking costumes, stunning special effects and fabulous song and dance routines.

Cinderella – Friday 10th December 21 – Saturday 8th January 22

For tickets go to:


The Brunton Theatre

The Brunton Presents: Hansel and Gretel The Pantomime

The Brunton have the only Hansel and Gretel this Christmas!

The Brunton’s fabulous traditional pantomime – fun for all ages! Produced by The Brunton, written and directed by John Binnie with musical direction by Tommie Travers. The traditional tale of Hansel and Gretel as they escape from the witch and realise the value of true friendship. Presented in full pantomime style with songs and slapstick and audience participation. Featuring the returning stars of the Brunton and a kids chorus drawn from the local community. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a trip to The Brunton.

Hansel and Gretel The Pantomime, Tuesday 7th December 21 – Friday 31st December 21.

For Tickets go to:


Pantomime and Christmas Shows will be back up and down the country, the only known postponement to date is Kirkcaldy’s Adam Smith Theatres Cinderella produced buy Imagine pantomimes. This is due to a delay in refurbishment work to the venue, so Cinderella will appear at the Rothes Halls in 2022.

So from Galashiels to Portree there is festive fun for all, and it’s more important than ever that we support live theatre and spread the magic this Christmas.


Captivate Theatre Presents Sunshine on Leith, Edinburgh Fringe 2021, Preview:

Renown Edinburgh based company Captivate theatre last seen on stage in their Scottish tour of “Annie” in March 2020, normally produce upwards of 10 productions in a normal Fringe year from their base at the Rose Street Theatre. However, following the cancellation of the 2020 Fringe and amid the ongoing restrictions which will impact the entire festival the company have decided to make their return to the Fringe which just one production. 

That production is their critically acclaimed and smash hit! Sunshine on Leith. Originally staged in 2014 the show opened at Broughton High Schools theatre before transferring to the Famous Spegieltent in St Andrews Square. Enjoying a total sell out success, the production returned in 2015 and 2016 both runs receiving the sellout charter mark from the Fringe society. 

Written by Stephen Greenhorn, and featuring the hits of “The Proclaimers” sunshine on Leith tells the story of two Leith Lads, Ally and Davy who sign up to the Royal Scots and find themselves fighting for Queen and country in the middle east. Returning home, they discover life has gone on without them and battles on the front line are replaced with battles on the home front as family, careers and discovering that the journey through life can be littered with bumps and love often hurts the most. It captures the vibrancy of Leith and the heart of its people with a plethora of characters brought to life by this talented company.

Once again directed by Sally Lyall with musical direction by Caitlin Morgan the 2021 production will draw together the very best of the companies performing talent including some of the original cast of 2014 joined by full live band.

To add to the magic of an Edinburgh based show the company will perform every night of the Fringe at the brand new “Multi Story” a newly constructed outdoor venue on castle terrace directly below Edinburgh Castle it truly promises to be a magical musical experience. 

Company Director Sally Lyall speaking to Scotsgay arts said “Captivate is a local company that brings together local actors, musicians and performers from across Edinburgh and beyond and offers opportunity for all ages. This is an exciting opportunity to get back onto the stage as part of the MultiStory programme and we’re thrilled to showcasing some of the immense talent that Edinburgh has to offer.”

As theatre companies and venues battle back following a 16-month closure it’s wonderful to see local companies from both Edinburgh and around the country returning to the Fringe offering in person live theatre experiences and it’s a brilliant move by Captivate to return to its most commercially and critically successful production to date. 

Seating will be in bubbles, so a sell-out run is already on the cards, this is truly a production worth walking 500 miles for! Book those tickets now to ensure a most memorable evening of Musical theatre 

Captivate Theatre Presents “Sunshine on Leith”, Friday 6th – Sunday 29th August 2021 @18:30. Main Theatre, Multi Story for tickets go to:


Edinburgh International Festival 2021, Preview:

The International Festival returns:

Edinburgh International Festival, the world’s leading performing arts festival, pioneers the return of live performance in Scotland from 7th – 29th August with a diverse programme of UK and international artists. The return of live performance marks a significant turning point for Scotland’s cultural sector by providing a platform for artists to return to the stage after over a year. The Festival’s ambition is to pave the way for other organisations to rebuild their own live performance programmes and to re-establish Edinburgh as a global celebration of culture.  The 2021 programme features over 170 classical and contemporary music, theatre, opera, dance and spoken word performances, including 15 new commissions and premieres. Audience safety is central to the planning of the 2021 Festival, with measures including outdoor venues, social distancing, shorter performances with no intervals, audience members seated in bubbles and, in a first for the International Festival, online access to 21 free full-length performances.

specially constructed outdoor venues feature in this years festival

Venues being used for the 2021 Festival include especially constructed outdoor venues at Edinburgh Academy Junior School, Parabola’s Edinburgh Park development and the University of Edinburgh’s Old College Quad, alongside carefully planned performances at the Festival Theatre, Traverse Theatre, The Royal Lyceum Theatre and Dance Base.

Highlights of the programme include:

• Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Night Light – A free large-scale fire night-walk, created by French artist collective Compagnie Carabosse, that combines elaborate fire sculptures and live traditional Scottish music against the backdrop of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

• Two operas-in-concert featuring two of the world’s most celebrated sopranos. A new concert staging of Ariadne auf Naxos stars Dorothea Röschmann in the title role alongside David Butt Philip as Bacchus. Composer Errollyn Wallen continues the story of Dido and Aeneas in Dido’s Ghost, interweaving the music of Purcell’s original tragedy within her own new opera which stars South African soprano Golda Schultz.

• The world premiere of Medicine, Enda Walsh’s latest play featuring star of stage-and-screen Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, Brooklyn, The Revenant, Star Wars VIII & IX, Harry Potter series), which examines society’s relation with mental health.

• Nicola Benedetti in residence across two weeks at the Festival, appearing with the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra, with a specially selected ensemble in Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale and in a solo performance The Story of the Violin.

Alan Cumming returns for the 2021 Festival

• Alan Cumming returning to the Festival for the first UK performances of his new show Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age, an evening of story and song which celebrates ageing.  Alan returns to the festival following his sell out success with Alan Cumming sings sappy songs in 2016.

• A contemporary music line-up including London-based guitar bands black midi and Black Country, New Road; new jazz from Kokoroko, The Comet is Coming and Moses Boyd; iconic female voices including Laura Mvula, Nadine Shah and Kathryn Joseph; Anna Meredith’s return to the International Festival; West Lothian indie band The Snuts; and Damon Albarn performs tracks from his extensive back catalogue, including current project The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows. Visiting international artists include Fatoumata Diawara, Sona Jobarteh, Tune-Yards and Caribou.

• Scottish Opera returning to the International Festival with a new production of Falstaff by Glasgow-born director Sir David McVicar.

• Leading orchestras from across the UK including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vasily Petrenko and featuring Isata Kannah-Mason, the London Symphony Orchestra led by Sir Simon Rattle, the Chineke! Orchestra with William Eddins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Dalia Stasevska.

• Global figures in classical music lead and perform with Scottish orchestras, including two concerts with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, one conducted by Valery Gergiev and featuring Daniil Trifonov and another led by Elim Chan with Argentinian cellist Sol Gabetta. Marin Alsop conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in a programme including Beethoven’s Fifth and Kazushi Ono leads the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

• Dance includes a new filmed version of Akram Khan’s Chotto Xenos, four dance films from international choreographers Omar Rajeh, Gregory Maqoma, Alice Ripoll and Janice Parker for Dancing in the Streets and Curious Seed’s Field – Something for the Future Now.

• Thomas Quasthoff featured in three performances across the Festival, appearing in Ariadne auf Naxos as the Major Domo, leading his jazz quartet for an intimate evening of vocal classics and hosting two public masterclasses with outstanding young singers.

• The Royal Lyceum Theatre plays host to live audiences for the first time in over year, with a programme including the National of Scotland’s Lament for Sheku Bayoh and rehearsed readings of Hindu Times by Jaimini Jethwa and You Bury Me by Ahlam.

A Grand Night for Singing

A Grand Night for Singing – a staged musical revue which showcases the iconic songs of classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. Staged by musical theatre performer Kim Criswell and conducted by Wayne Marshall, the handpicked cast features Criswell alongside Danielle de Niese.

• The Old College Quad series of intimate recitals including performances from piano masters Elisabeth Leonskaja, Mariam Batsashvili, Ronald Brautigam and the much-loved Scottish pianist Malcolm Martineau celebrating the 250th anniversary of Sir Walter Scott’s birth. Vocal recitals include Norwegian lyric soprano Mari Eriksmoen in her International Festival debut, Gerald Finley and Renée Fleming with chamber music from Chineke! Chamber Ensemble, Zehetmair Quartet and more.

In the Tradition – a programme of traditional Scottish music and interconnected folk traditions which features leading artists and ensembles such as Rura, Talisk, the Kinnaris Quintet, Karine Polwart and Siobhan Miller

As part of the International Festival’s ongoing commitment to accessibility, the 2021 programme includes audio described, captioned and British Sign Language interpreted performances, free tickets to classical music concerts for 200 young people and a free, large-scale opening event.

General booking for the 2021 International Festival opens on Friday 11 June.

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director, Edinburgh International Festival said:

“The programme we are announcing today represents a carefully organised return to live performance. It is a collaborative effort between those who live in our city, our artists, the team at the festival, our donors and stakeholders and all who will be coming along to our performances.

“While so much has been written and said about the challenges of the past 15 months, it is now time to look to the future and to the brilliant musicians, actors, dancers and poets who are getting ready to perform Edinburgh this August.

“I would like to pay tribute to everyone involved in the Festival who has worked tirelessly in extraordinary circumstances and to thank our many partner organisations and stakeholders who have contributed to this programme. None of us can be certain of what the coming months will bring but we are committed to working together on returning to the joy of live performance.”

The 2021 festival promises a diverse plethora of artists across the programme drawing heavily on home grown talent. Following the cancellation of last year’s festival, it’s vital this year’s event re-establishes itself as the bench mark for the arts thus ensuring Scotland continues to lead the arts world. A programme of this calibre ensures we are now well on our way to achieving that.

So check the programme for yourself and get booking those tickets.

 The Edinburgh International Festival will run from the 7th – 29th August across the capital for full details and tickets (box office opens 11th June) go to:


Glasgow Film Festival 2021

Glasgow Film Festival 2021 Preview:

Although Cinema’s the length and breadth of the country remain closed under covid restrictions, cinema and film is enjoying a boom period especially in streaming and online services.

As we make our way through March the Glasgow Film Festival has announced their programme for 2021 and have also confirmed the entire event will be held digitally. The 2021 festival will run from Wednesday 24th February to Sunday 7th March inclusive.

The festival itself will feature a strong LGBTQI+ strand and festival Co-Director Allan Hunter spoke to Scotsgay arts saying “The Glasgow Film Festival is happening entirely online this year so there is no excuse not to stay home and watch films. The Festival always reflects the wide range of LGBTQI+ stories being told around the world and this year is no exception. I would particularly recommend Marley Morrison’s Sweetheart in which a teenage lesbian experiences a bittersweet family holiday. It is sharp, funny and features a star-making performance from Nell Barlow . Poppy Field is a real nail biter. Inspired by true events it follows a closeted Romanian police officer in a work situation that threatens to out him. The documentary Steelers celebrates the 25th anniversary of the world’s first gay rugby club and is full of personal stories that will definitely bring a tear to the eye.”

So lets take a look at the pick of the LGBTQI+ offerings coming up at the 2021 Glasgow Film Festival!

Sweetheart – World Premiere

Billed as a nostalgic coming of age tale for a new generation, Marley Morrison’s debut feature Sweetheart is a story inspired by her own teenage battles with gender identity and sexuality. The film follows AJ (Nell Barlow), a socially awkward, environmentally conscious teenager who is dragged by her mum to a holiday park in Dorset. She is determined to have the worst week of her life, but her plan comes unstuck when she meets flirty, free-spirited lifeguard Isla (Ella Rae Smith) who might just be the girl of her dreams.

Steelers, The World’s First Gay Rugby Club – UK Premiere

The Kings Cross Steelers were the world’s first gay rugby team, created in 1995 when legal same sex marriage was decades away and very few straight teams would even agree to play them. Twenty-five years on, they are heading to Amsterdam for the world gay rugby tournament – The Bingham Cup. Eammon Ashton-Atkinson’s uplifting documentary focuses on the individual stories of those whose lives have been changed by the club. From lesbian head coach Nic Evans who still has to fight to be recognised as a senior official on the pitch, to a player who is as fierce in drag competitions as he is on the pitch.

Poppy Field – UK Premiere

Cristi (Conrad Mericoffer) is an officer with the Romanian police. He has a long-term, long-distance relationship with Hadi (Radouan Leflahi) who lives in Paris. An oppressive, macho work culture convinces him to remain in the closet. One evening the police are called to a cinema where protesters have stopped the screening of a queer film. Tensions are high, tempers are fraying. One man in the audience clearly recognises Cristi. How far will he go to prevent himself from being outed? Inspired by true events, this is a taut, compelling tale of prejudice and the cost of living a lie.

Cowboys – UK Premiere

Anna Kerrigan’s award-winning debut shows a rare understanding of the complexities and challenges of modern family life. Troy (Steve Zahn) is on a camping trip with his transgender son Joe (Sasha Knight), an 11-year-old with a passion for cowboy yarns and the great outdoors. As they travel through the majestic beauty of the northern Rockies, television news reports emerge claiming that Joe is missing. As detective Faith (Ann Dowd) investigates we see a bigger picture involving Joe’s conservative mother Sally (Jillian Bell) and her inability to let go of the little girl she loves.

Truman and Tennessee – UK Premiere

Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams were friends for the best part of 40 years. Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s poignant documentary captures the complexity of a relationship that journeyed from fond regard to bitchy disdain and back again. A wealth of archive material confirms the two literary giants as central to American cultural life in the 20th century. Jim Parsons (Capote) and Zachary Quinto (Williams) voice their words in a celebration of what the two men achieved and what it cost them.

The LGBTQI+ strand makes up a small proportion of the films on offer, films that challenge, inform and entertain in equal measure, and while we wait for cinemas to fully reopen supporting independent cinema and our film festivals has never been more important. So grab the popcorn and settle down on the sofa!

For full details on the films we have selected and all the films across the festival and to book your screening tickets go to: