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10 things to do across Scotland this weekend

Red Bull Hill Chasers

The Mound, Edinburgh, Saturday

This biking event attracted 3000 spectators when staged in the capital's Grassmarket and Victoria Street last year. Back in a more central location for 2014, it's billed as the UK's only multi-discipline uphill cycling race, bringing BMX, trail, mountain, and road bikers together to compete for supremacy up a short but punishing stretch of The Mound. Mass-start knock-out rounds for amateur entrants begin in the morning, with the best 30 going through to compete against 10 professional stars from 7pm. www.redbull.co.uk/hillchasers

Glasgow Vet School Rodeo

Garscube Estate, Bearden, Saturday

This fun-filled family friendly show for animal lovers mixes displays of horsemanship with more off-beat entertainment such as duck herding. Among promised attractions are pony, horse and carriage rides, dog shows, falconry, dance workshops, and an animal tent. There's also farriery displays, and live magic and puppetry. Organised by the Glasgow University Veterinary Medical Association, all proceeds from the event are donated to animal charities. On from 11am-5pm, entry is £7 for adults and £3 for children, with family tickets £15. www.facebook.com/GUVMArodeo2014

National Learn To Play Day

Various venues, Saturday

This national initiative aims to encourage more people to take up music by offering free instrument taster sessions to people signing up at participating venues. The principle project of UK musical instrument industry charity Music For All, the day is aimed at inspiring more people to take up music-making and is suitable for children, beginners, and people who have played in the past but have subsequently given up. Scottish venues include retailers and commercial music academies in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Ayrshire. Full details are at www.learntoplayday.com

Something Bloody Awesome

Potterrow, Edinburgh, Saturday and Sunday

This two-day convention is worth a nod for east coast-based comic and sci-fi fans. Those attending can expect special guests, cosplay, and sessions with creators from companies such as Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse, while exhibitors range from publishers and artists to dealers of comics, collectables, toys and merchandise. Guests include Trevor Butterfield and Barry Noble - who respectively portrayed various rubber-suited nasties in the original Star Wars trilogy, and Cybermen in 1960s Dr Who. Entry costs from £10, with children under 12 free. www.heroconventions.com

British Gas Swimming Championships

Tollcross Swimming Centre, Glasgow, from today

Following on from last week's Scottish Championships, this week's water-based Commonwealth Games tie-in has an even higher profile, with around 600 swimmers from across Britain competing for personal glory and all-important national team spots for Glasgow 2014. Among Scots stars aiming to make a splash between now and Tuesday are Olympic Sliver medalist Michael Jamieson, fast-emerging rival Ross Murdoch, and Commonwealth Gold-winner Hannah Miley, on a winning streak after racking up five Scottish titles last weekend. Tickets are available from £4.50.

Bandstand Beer and Music Festival

Braeval Hotel, Nairn, from tomorrow

Beer enthusiasts can look forward to trying more than than 130 Scottish and English cask ales, ciders and beers at this week-long event declared to be the biggest independent beer festival in the Highlands. Stamina permitting, there's also the chance to take in live music, and meet some of the brewers responsible. The event has been going for six years, and organisers are clearly on to a good thing, with hosting venue the Braeval Hotel recently named as one of CAMRA's community pubs of the year. www.braevalhotel.co.uk/bandstandbeerfestival.asp

Sleepover Under The Stars

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Saturday

Suitable for children aged 7 to 11 (plus accompanying adults), this unique family event combines captivating after-hours activities with an overnight stay in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The night's entertainment will include espionage-themed games, workshops and exploring, before everyone settles down for the night in the Great Hall for bedtime stories and a midnight feast. Starting at 6.45pm on Saturday, and running through until 8.30am the next morning (hot breakfast supplied), tickets are £35. Booking on 0131 624 6560. www.nationalgalleries.org

Bring It All Home

Paisley, from Friday

The life and legacy of the late singer songwriter Gerry Rafferty is celebrated in his hometown this coming week with a series of concerts showcasing his music. Wednesday's Paisley Abbey centrepiece with the RSNO is sold out, but there are numerous other performances and music masterclasses to catch, including next Saturday's closing show featuring Karine Polwart, Midge Ure, James Grant, and Hamish Stuart. A free exhibition of memorabilia, hand-written lyrics, guitars, and original John Byrne album art runs at Paisley Art Gallery and Museum until May 17. www.bringitallhome.co.uk

Scotland's Time Lords

Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, now open

Edinburgh science attraction Our Dynamic Earth has just opened three new galleries after a refurbishment, forming an interactive installation called Scotland's Time Lords - the story of Edinburgh-born geologist James Hutton, whose pioneering theories were a key influence on Charles Darwin. Bringing his work to life is a Georgian-style classroom with magical talking wall art, a gallery showcasing a giant illuminated globe, and a 'time machine' exhibit focusing on the Big Bang and the Earth's early history. Tickets are available from £7.25 at www.dynamicearth.co.uk

McLaren 2014

Stirling, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, from tomorrow

Innovative Stirling-born animator Norman McLaren's career brought him Oscar recognition and the admiration of storied contemporaries such as Francois Truffaut and Pablo Picasso. Having spent most of his professional life in Canada, his work is less well known here. Aiming to change this, 100 years on from his birth, is a series of events, screenings, workshops and performances, kicking off tomorrow in his native city with the unveiling of a heritage plaque, screenings of his work and an exhibition on his early Scottish roots. www.mclaren2014.com

Don't Miss

Coral Scottish Grand National

Ayr Racecourse, April 11-12

One of the biggest weekends in the UK horse racing calendar, the Scottish Grand National has 15 races, loads of the sport's top jockeys, owners and horses, and a prize pot of more than half a million quid - plus plenty of entertainment, lashing of fizz, and a veritable bounty of crazy-looking hats. www.ayr-racecourse.co.uk

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