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Some Things for the Weekend

Last chance to enjoy the festival of lights

Vlad headI know we are now in the second week of November, but surely it is still too early for us to be looking forward to Christmas. 

However, up and down the UK on my travels last week, plenty of shops had their Christmas lights up before we’d even had Bonfire Night.  In fact, The Dome on George Street in Edinburgh has had its lights up for over two weeks now, when it was still October, before it was even Hallowe’en.  It should be illegal to have any Christmas decorations lit up before 30 November. 

know most people in Scotland don’t give a monkey’s about St Andrew’s Day, but perhaps it could have a purpose after all. The onset on the Festive Season also heralds the onset on the Pantomime Season, so take the chance to get out now in November when there’s still some decent entertainment to be had.  Here are some recommendations:

Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh  Until Saturday 22nd Nov  Several shows daily

What better way to take advantage of the long winter evenings can there be than this outdoor festival of light at Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens ?  Back for a second year after 2014’s outstanding success, Botanic Lights promises to be bigger and better this year. The gardens re-open after dark, and visitors are able to follow a trail of magical light, accentuating the park’s stunning natural autumn colours. A unique evening experience not to be missed.

 Botanic lights

National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh  Until 24th April  9 am – 5 pm (7 pm Thursday)

This exhibition of the work of a group of Scottish photo-journalists looks at Scotland and the Scots, one year on from the Independence Referendum.  A series of images of the nation and its people, which touches very subtly on the political landscape of the time without banging a drum for either viewpoint.  Definitely worth a viewing.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre  Until Saturday 14th 8 pm (Saturday matinee 2 pm)

The autumn is an ideal time to take a weekend break in Pitlochry, as the Perthshire country is breath-taking at this time of year.  Nestled by the river in its own picturesque parkland, the Festival Theatre is worth a trip in itself. This high-energy production of Our Man in Havana will make the journey particularly rewarding, as the cast of four actors re-create Grahame Greene’s hilarious 1950’s political comedy.

The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow  Thursday 12th-Saturday 14th  8.30

Markus Birdman is one of the most consistently-inventive acts on the UK comedy circuit.  A regular performer at the Edinburgh Fringe, his writing is intelligent, and thought-provoking yet always accessible.  He is supported in Glasgow this weekend by the gloriously deadpan Suzie McCabe.  The show is hosted by the ball of comic energy that is Billy Kirkwood.

Usher Hall, Edinburgh   Saturday 14th   7 pm

My friend Pauline used to have a Saturday job at Miss Selfridges in Hanover Street working alongside Shirley Manson, so she would doubtless recommend this gig, as Garbage return to the UK for the first time in years with a tour entitled Twenty Years Queer.  It really doesn’t seem that long since they started out, which is definitely a sign of my ageing.

The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen   Saturday 14th, 8.30

Local bands often struggle to get stage time in Scotland’s cities, so credit to the Lemon Trees for promoting this showcase night, featuring some of the North-East best and rawest musical talent.  Four of the regions most promising up-and-coming bands Min Diesel, Hjearts, Wendell Borton and Fawn Spots, bring an eclectic and enigmatic mix 80’s punk, melodic pop and youthful attitude.

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh  Until Saturday 14th 7.30 (Matinee 2.30 Saturday)

Oscar Wilde’s classic farce comes to Edinburgh direct from London West End, with both a stellar cast and a novel twist to the production.  Sian Philips, Nigel Havers, Martin Jarvis head up a host of familiar names who, we are led to believe, are involved in an amateur dramatic production.  Sounds fun.

Dundee Rep, Friday 13th November 8 pm
New County Hotel, Perth, Saturday 14th  8.30

Scottish Comedian of the Year Bruce Fummey hosts this monthly comedy night , both in Dundee and his home town of Perth.  This month’s show probably boasts the strongest comedy line-up in Scotland this weekend, matching the laconic, surreal Chic Murray-esque musings of David Kay, the dark one-liners of Londoner David Haddingham, and up-and-coming young English comic Jack Campbell.

Vladimir McTavish is appearing at YesBar in Glasgow on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th and at Enterteasement in Glasgow on Saturday 14th November

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