A NATIONAL awards ceremony will open its doors to the public for the first time this year.

The Scottish Entertainment Awards, which celebrate the best of Scottish pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, venues, hotels and attractions, will host a ticketed variety show event as part of the prize ceremony on May 18. The Herald is media partner for the awards.

X-Factor star Nicholas MacDonald, comedian Lee Nelson and Britain's Got Talent duo Richard and Adam will be among the range of acts performing at the Armadillo in Glasgow.

Organiser Warren Paul said: "The public have never been involved in the event, it's always been hospitality trade only.

"This year for the first time ever, I think for any hospitality event, we are allowing the general public to come along and sample what it's like behind the scenes and get a feel for what it's all about."

Now in its third year, the awards celebrate the best of Scottish pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, venues, hotels and attractions which are nominated and voted for by the public.

After the public voting closes in April, a team of 18 judges will visit the five nominees with the highest number of votes in each category.

They will then be judged on a range of points including service, food, drinks, atmosphere and staff knowledge, before being given an overall score.

The venue with the highest score from each category will be crowned the winner.

This year, as well as the traditional categories including Scotland's best Italian, best family restaurant and best newcomer, organisers have introduced new groups Best Community Pub and Best Independent Hotel.

Warren said: "There were so many independently-owned pubs and hotels that were out with city centres last year and they were competing with city centre places or chains, which is difficult.

"We wanted to make it an equal playing field."

Glasgow Taxis, who are also one of this year's sponsors, launched a customised cab in celebration of the event, which displayed some of the country's famous landmarks.

Vice-chairman Stephen Flynn said: "We've been involved with the company who are hosting the entertainment awards for a few years now and last year we were involved with the Scottish Italian Awards.

"That was a great success so we're hoping this year's Entertainment Awards will be successful too.

"Everything is moving forward in Glasgow.

"In the next couple of years there are a lot of events coming and it's really positive for both the city and the taxi trade.

"It's these kind of events that keep the drivers ticking over too."

Last year, Glasgow-based venues scooped 14 out of the 19 gongs up for grabs, with eateries including Mother India, Celino's, La Lanterna and Cail Bruich all receiving awards.

Votes can be cast at http://entertainmentawards.co.uk/vote-now/

Tickets for the variety show, including a limited number of VIP tickets, are available from www.ticketsoup.com.