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Top Ten Autumn Events in Scotland
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Top Ten Autumn Events in Scotland

Picture of Rebecca Jagoe
Updated: 9 February 2017
The legendary Fringe Festival may be ending and Hogmanay a long way off, but that’s not to say that Scotland’s cultural calendar is drying up. Far from it, in fact; as this selection demonstrates, autumn and winter are the key time in Scotland’s cultural calendar, with everything from film festivals to storytelling, taking place across the country, all the way to the Hebrides.

Literature | Nairn Book and Arts Festival

Nairn: 3 – 8 September

In 2013, Nairn Book and Arts Festival is celebrating 10 years of promoting arts and culture in the Highlands of Scotland. The wide-ranging festival takes in literary talks, art exhibitions, music and theatre, with an emphasis on Gaelic arts and heritage. The popular festival is a firm favourite for both locals and those who travel to Nairn especially for the event. All across the ancient fishing port and seaside town, participating venues play host to the festival, ensuring the excitement permeates throughout the town. This year, highlights include comedian Sara Pascoe, and James Naughtie, of Radio 4’s Today Programme.

Learn more about Nairn Book and Arts Festival here

Literature | Bloody Scotland

Stirling: 13 – 15 September 2013

We all know the works of Arthur Conan Doyle and his legendary detective, yet Scotland’s heritage of crime fiction does not stop there, and many writers from the country have been drawn to the darker side of storytelling. Bloody Scotland is a celebration of Scottish crime writers both past and present, with a number of contemporary authors converging to take part in the manifold events around the festival, including readings, talks and workshops. Authors for the festival this year include Jo Nesbo, Val McDermid and Lee Child, who will be talking at the finale of the festival about the phenomenal success of his character Jack Reacher.

Learn more about Bloody Scotland here

Jazz | Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival

Islay: 13 – 15 September

Organised by Jazz Scotland, Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival is a celebration of jazz and blues in the beautiful setting of Islay, the southernmost Hebridean Island. For one weekend in September, visitors have the chance to appreciate live music from international contemporary jazz artists in unique and stunning surroundings, and performances take place in some of the seven whisky distilleries across the island. Headliners include Wednesday Gray, Colin Steele, Magnus Öström and Trio LIbero. With tickets sold to individual concerts, guests can make up their own itinerary, and in the interim appreciate the many other attractions of Islay, from its beaches and golf courses to its scallops, and of course, whisky.

Learn more about Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival here

Architecture | Doors Open Day

Edinburgh: 28 – 29 September 2013

Organised by the Cockburn Association, Edinburgh Doors Open Day is an event that celebrates the capital’s arts, architecture and heritage. For one day only, a number of historical buildings that are usually closed to the public or charge entrance, are open for free for visitors to come and explore. Tours, activities, talks and exhibitions to tie in with the event are held in various venues, and many of the participating sites hold additional activities for families and children.

Learn more about Edinburgh Doors Open Day here

Arts | Glasgay!

Glasgow: 9 October – 9 November 2013

Glasgay! is Scotland’s leading festival showcasing LGBT talent and promoting the discussion of LGBT rights and issues, across theatre, comedy, visual arts and film. Now in its twentieth year, the hugely popular festival will celebrate this milestone with the theme of ‘Legacy’, focussing particularly on the legacy of many of the homosexual artists who have participated in past events, many of whom have — with the progress of LGBT equality — emerged from the sidelines to the mainstream. Headlining acts and contributions include Maw Broon Monologues, a brand new musical from Jackie Kay, MBE; Motherson, a commissioned collaboration between writers and performers Donna Rutherford and Martin O’Connor; and Cured, a commissioned piece by Stef Smith.

Learn more about Glasgay! here

Literature | Scottish International Storytelling Festival

Edinburgh: 18 – 27 October 2013

The 10 day Storytelling Festival is a celebration of live storytelling and oral tradition, inspired by the Gaelic notion of Ceilidh and its sense of ‘togetherness’. With the title this year of ‘Once Upon a Journey’, the festival looks at travelling and travellers’ tales, encompassing both metaphorical and literal journeys. There are readings, workshops, tours and — of course — storytelling events geared for adults and for younger audiences, led by a number of international storytellers and musicians. Although the festival is centred in the Scottish Storytelling Centre, events from international storytellers take place in venues across Edinburgh, including the National Museum of Scotland, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and the National Library of Scotland. This year, too, Calton Hill story walks take in science, history, philosophy and technology whilst telling tales of monuments encountered on the way.

Learn more about the Scottish International Storytelling Festival here

Music | Sound Scotland

Aberdeen: 23 October – 21 November

True to its name, Sound is a festival that brings together a wide number of differing musical genres and types, with the aim of promoting experimental and contemporary music and encouraging visitors to abandon preconceptions and widen their tastes. This year, 79 artists are participating, from new opera to folk, contemporary classical to jazz. With each performance engineered to become truly something unique and boundary-pushing, audiences are guaranteed to see something unforgettable, and with the festival this year exploring how sound and image interact, every piece promises to be a multi-sensory spectacle.

Learn more about Sound here

Film | Africa in Motion Scotland African Film Festival

Glasgow and Edinburgh: 24 October – 1 November 2013

Each year, Africa in Motion aims to expose Scottish audiences to African cinema, an industry that has been grossly underrepresented and marginalised beyond the continent. Hoping to expose Western viewers to a perspective on Africa that breaks away from the standard and outdated stereotypes, the festival screens a number of contemporary films from across the continent that demonstrate the wealth and breadth of talent that is so unjustly ignored. The theme for this year’s Africa in Motion Film Festival is ‘Twende!’, a swahili word meaning ‘Let’s go!’; a summary, as the organisers state, of the continent’s ‘beauty through movement.’. Films selected may fall into the theme literally or metaphorically: they might address social change, or the translocation of peoples across borders; take sports as their subject, or look at contemporary street life in certain African countries.

Learn more about Africa in Motion Film Festival here

Film | Document 11: International Human Rights Documentary Festival

Glasgow: October 2013

The only dedicated human rights documentary festival in Scotland, Document 11 takes place each October with the aim of raising crucial concerns, leading issues and contemporary debate around national and international human rights. Each year, the films selected to be screened address polemic issues in a wide range of styles from experimental to documentary essay to reportage. Each address what it means to live in the 21st century and the many international human rights issues and violations taking place today, including immigration and asylum, social exclusion, LGBT rights, racism, unemployment and mental health care.

Learn more about Document 11 here

Art | Louise Bourgeois: I Give Everything Away at Edinburgh Fruitmarket

Edinburgh: 26 October 2013 – 23 February 2014

The French-born, American Louise Bourgeois is perhaps one of the most important and influential artists of our time. This autumn, Bourgeois’ work is being celebrated in Edinburgh with a vast retrospective at the National Gallery of Modern Art. To tie in with the show, Edinburgh Fruitmarket are holding an exhibition of her works on paper, curated by Frances Morris, Head of Collections (International Art) at the Tate Modern. Louise Bourgeois: I Give Everything Away is a wide ranging show of 220 of her works on paper, taking at its centre her ‘Insomnia Drawings’, a suite of drawings and writing created between 1994 and 1995; intense, psychological works that demonstrate the crucial role that drawing and writing play in her practise.

Learn more about Louise Bourgeois: I Give Everything Away here

By Rebecca Jagoe