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10 things to do across Scotland this weekend

Mammoths of the Ice Age

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, from tomorrow

A major new exhibition opening in Edinburgh this week and running until April examining the lives and eventual extinction of the enormous furry beasts of yore. On show are a range of fascinating fossils, interactive displays and detailed models - including the exact replica of Lyuba, an exceptionally well-preserved 42,000-year-old baby mammoth discovered in Siberia. Look out for a series of related talks, art, music, and storytelling events, as well the latest in the after-hours Museum Lates series next month. www.nms.ac.uk

War Horse

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, until Feb 15

Another blockbuster arrival in the form of the acclaimed stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's novel about the friendship between a young man and his horse in the trenches of the Somme. Adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford, the production has won a clutch of awards, thanks in no small part to its innovative use of life-sized puppets to bring the animals in the story to life. Tickets for the run have sold out - but keep an eye on www.facebook.com/festivalandkingstheatres for updates on returns.

Glasgow British Athletics International Match

Emirates Sports Arena, Glasgow, Saturday

The first international sporting event of the year, this high-profile indoor track and field meeting offers an early chance to catch some of the biggest names in UK and international athletics ahead of the Commonwealth Games. A Scottish squad led by 400m hurdler Eilidh Child will face off across 20 disciplines against GB and Northern Ireland, Commonwealth Select and USA teams. Among those confirmed to appear are London 2012 gold-winning long jumper Greg Rutherford and pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale. Tickets start at £15 from britishathletics.org.uk

Penguin Awareness Week

Edinburgh Zoo, until Sunday

Monday's international Penguin Awareness Day celebrations have been extended over the whole week to tie in with the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Zoo's first penguins. As ever, there's the famous daily Penguin Parade, but there are also extra talks on revealing how they became home to the first ever colony in Europe and more. Exclusive footage from the team behind BBC documentary Spy in the Huddle is on show all week as well, capturing penguins up close with cunningly disguised spy cameras. www.edinburghzoo.org.uk

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Saturday and Sunday, across Scotland

Spend an hour outdoors over the weekend counting the birds in your own garden or at any local green space to help the RSPB monitor threatened indigenous species such as starlings, house sparrows and greenfinch. There are also a number of Big Garden Birdwatch events open to the public across Scotland at locations including Balloch Country Park, Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow, and Hazelhead and Duthie Parks in Aberdeen. Register online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch before Saturday for a free guide.

Zombie Science: Worst Case Scenario

Glasgow, today and tomorrow

Discover how to how to survive in the event of impending zombie apocalypse by attending one of these handy lectures about the real science behind the undead. Hosted by Doctor Austin from the Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies, the spoof seminar has previously graced both Glasgow's Science and International Comedy Festivals. Held at Community Central Hall in Maryhill Road tonight and at Govanhill Baths tomorrow, the interactive tutorial will include a multi-media presentation, practical demonstrations, and audience participation. Better safe than sorry. www.zombiescience.co.uk

Alloway 1759

Alloway, Ayrshire, until Sunday

Named after the place and year of his birth, this week-long programme celebrating the life of Robert Burns continues in Ayrshire until Sunday. Along with a variety of events at the Robert Burns Birthplace museum, there's a chance to explore the darker side of local history with Burns-inspired Ghost Walks tonight, tomorrow and Saturday. There's also a traditional Burns Supper at the Ayr Gaiety and two Celebration Days at Rozelle House, co-incidentally built in 1759 and now home to a series of paintings by Alexander Goudie depicting the tale of Tam O'Shanter. www.alloway1759.com

Big Burns Supper

Dumfries, Friday to Sunday

Billed as the world's biggest Burn's Night celebration, highlights of this three-day programme of music, theatre, comedy and spoken word events include Saturday's Homecoming Carnival in the Town Centre, Sunday's live stand-up show from Fred MacAulay, and gigs from stadium rockers Big Country, folk guitar master Dick Gaughan, and indie folk favourite Colin MacIntyre, aka Mull Historical Society. £20 family tickets are available for selected shows, and there's the choice of several different ways to enjoy a Burns Supper - including at burlesque-inspired Spiegeltent supper club Le Haggis. 2014.bigburnssupper.com

Celebrating the Work of Burns

Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle, Friday to Sunday

More ways to explore the life and work of the man of the hour at two of the country's best known historic monuments. Stirling Castle is laying on specially-designed tours incorporating recitals of Burns poetry and prose, as well as a pop-up Poet's corner and junior castle tours designed to fire the imagination of younger visitors. Edinburgh Castle has Burns For Beginners, a series of short performances offering a light-hearted introduction to the poet's work, along with a Scots-language quiz, whisky tasting, and a Burns-themed cafe menu. www.historic-scotland.gov.uk

Up Helly Aa

Lerwick, Shetland, Tuesday

It's not on until early next week - as is customary, Shetland's annual fire festival always falls on the last Tuesday of January - but there would certainly be no harm in setting out early. Celebrating the archipelago's unique Nordic heritage, the day includes numerous parades and a spectacular torchlit procession through Lerwick in the evening. With no street-lights and up to a thousand participants led by an armour-clad Jarl Squad, the procession culminates in the ceremonial burning of a replica long ship, followed by a long night of festivities in halls across the town. www.uphellyaa.org

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