The new year is for hunkering down with a good book or, if you are venturing out, for sitting in a warm cinema enjoying the latest releases.

Come spring and perhaps thoughts turn elsewhere – to the theatre for drama or dance, to comedy clubs, to concert venues. Or maybe you enjoy all those things whatever the weather. However you take your culture, there’s something for everyone in our survey of the year ahead.

Two Sisters

A new play by David Greig artistic director of Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre, and his first entirely new work for five years.

The plot turns on the siblings of the title – sisters Emma and Amy, who return as struggling adults to the seaside caravan park which was a perfect paradise to their 16-year-old selves.

The Herald: David GreigDavid Greig

Will it still seem like it today? Acclaimed director Wils Wilson joins Greig in the creative team for a co-production with Malmo’s Stadtsteater.

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh (February 10-March 2)

This Is Memorial Device
Based on sometime Sunday Herald writer David Keenan’s acclaimed novel about a great, lost post-punk band from Airdrie, this equally lauded theatre production stars Paul Higgins of The Thick Of It and Slow Horses fame and returns to Scottish stages after a successful 2022 run – at Edinburgh Art College’s legendary Wee Red Bar where it was part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

It includes filmed segments from actors including Mary Gapinski, Sanjeev Kohli and Julie Wilson Nimmo, was adapted by Graham Eatough and features music by Stephen Pastel.

Tron Theatre, Glasgow (March 28-30); Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh (April 3-6)

La Traviata
Scottish Opera’s acclaimed 2008 production of Verdi’s classic Paris-set work returns to Scottish stages with Hye-Youn Lee performing Violetta and Ji-Min Park as her lover Alfredo.

Theatre Royal, Glasgow (May 8-18); Eden Court, Inverness (May 23 and 25); His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen (May 30 and June 1); Festival Theatre, Edinburgh (June 7-15)

Swan Lake
Originally scheduled to tour in 2020, this revival of Scottish Ballet’s David Dawson-choreographed smash hit 2016 production finally takes to the road in the spring, with lush costumes by former dancer Yumiko Takeshima. Music is by a certain Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, of course.

Theatre Royal, Glasgow (April 4-6); His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen (April 19-20); Eden Court, Inverness (April 26-27); Festival Theatre, Edinburgh (May 2-4)

The Last Dinner Party, February 2

Marmite-y they may be, but the all-female London quintet are undoubtedly one of the hottest British bands of the moment, and their Brit Award win (they scooped the Rising Star prize) and inclusion on the BBC’s Sound Of 2024 longlist proves they’re at least worth checking out. The long-awaited and much-anticipated debut album, Prelude To Ecstasy, won’t settle the arguments, but it will give their winning art pop a wider audience.

The Jesus And Mary Chain, February 23
First studio album in seven years for the mop-haired Scottish fuzz-pop legends and only their second since 1998’s Munki. Where previously they have used studios in (variously) England, Spain and America, this one sees them return to their old stomping ground, utilising Mogwai’s Castle Of Doom studios. And the album title? Glasgow Eyes.

The Snuts
Aptly titled Millennials, this third album from the energetic West Lothian indie rockers builds on their reputation as the heirs to The Libertines and the Arctic Monkeys and will be released on Happy Artist Records, the imprint they set up after ditching major label Parlophone. They have a series of post-release in-store events in late February before they undertake two nights at Glasgow’s fabled Barrowland Ballroom (February 27 and 28).

A Case Of Matricide, October (Saraband)

Although he’s better known for the novels Case Studies and His Bloody Project – making the Booker longlist and shortlist respectively can do that to a fellow – Graeme Macrae Burnet, right, is also the author of two crime novels-cum-psychological thrillers, The Disappearance Of Adèle Bedeau and The Accident On The A35. Set in and around the sleepy French town of Saint-Louis, both feature detective Georges Gorski. The Scot is now set to complete the trilogy with this third instalment, to be published by respected independent house Saraband.

The Hunter March 7 (Penguin)
Tana French, bestselling author of the Dublin Murders series of novels and dubbed Ireland’s Queen of Crime, returns with a sequel to The Searcher, her 2020 novel. It introduced new character Cal Hooper, an ex-Chicago cop now relocated to the west of Ireland. Here he embarks on another adventure, this time involving gold prospectors who bring trouble in their wake.

The Wild Men: The Remarkable Story Of Britain’s First Labour Government January 18 (Bloomsbury)
Having penned a biography of former First Minster Nicola Sturgeon and a history of the Scottish Conservatives, political pundit and author David Torrance turns his attention to the Labour Party – specifically the government of Ramsay MacDonald who, along with Keir Hardie, was one of the party’s founders. A century on and with another Labour administration soon to be incoming (probably), it’s a timely reappraisal of a momentous period in British politics.


First established in 2014 and soon to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Spectra turns the Granite City into a city of light by transforming landmarks such as Union Terrace Gardens, Marischal College and Aberdeen Art Gallery into solid works of art and interactive installations. The place will be beaming, quite literally – as will the faces of the thousands who will explore the city by night and see it in an entirely new light.

Various venues, Aberdeen (February 8-11)

Glasgow Film Festival
In 2024 the festival celebrates both its 20th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of its temporal (and spiritual) home, the Glasgow Film Theatre. The full line-up hasn’t been unveiled yet, though alongside special pop-up events and screenings of classic movies there will be a focus on Czech cinema of the past and present including the great feminist trailblazer Věra Chytilová.

Various venues, Glasgow (February 28-March 10)

The Herald: Elaine C SmithElaine C Smith

Glasgow Comedy Festival
Next year marks the festival’s 21st birthday and there’s a suitably stellar line-up in store across 50 city venues. Local legend Elaine C Smith will undertake a solo stand-up show, and among the other big draws are Frankie Boyle, Stewart Lee, Lee’s old partner Richard Herring (he brings his Leicester Square podcast to the live setting) and Reginald D Hunter. Also performing are talents such as Susie McCabe, Connor Burns, Mark Nelson and Irish-Italian joker Vittorio Angelone.

Various venues, Glasgow (March 13-31)

Poor Things, January 12

For his fourth film in English, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos follows 2018 Oscar winner The Favourite with this adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s absurdist, Victorian-era 1992 novel of the same name – and a very loose adaptation it is, by all accounts. Plot details and locations may shift, but Lanthimos does at least keep the names of the central characters: Bella Baxter, played by Olivia Colman’s co-star in The Favourite, Emma Stone, and Duncan Wedderburn, played by Mark Ruffalo. Willem Dafoe also stars.

The Herald: Emma StoneEmma Stone (Image: Searchlight pictures)

Copa ’71, March 8
Directed by British film-maker James Erskine and with Serena Williams as an executive producer, this fascinating documentary tells the story of the Women’s World Cup held in Mexico in 1971. England were one of only six countries which took part – Argentina, Italy, France, Mexico and eventual winners Denmark were the others – and the tournament was held in the teeth of a mixture of bemusement and downright opposition from many in the men’s game. Now known as “the Lost Lionesses”, the England side, contained 13-year-old Leah Caleb and 14-year-old Gill Sayell (later a founder member of the Arsenal women’s team) and were captained by 19-year-old Carol Wilson, who appears in the documentary.

The Color Purple, January 26
Alice Walker’s much-loved, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel returns to the big screen in an adaptation by Ghanaian rapper Blitz Bazawule of the 2005 Broadway musical version. Taraji P Henson, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, Halle Bailey and R&B star H.E.R all feature and among the producers are Steven Spielberg and musical polymath Quincy Jones, respectively director and producer of the first film version. It was nominated for 11 Oscars at the 1986 Academy Awards and won none, still a record. Oscars so white, eh?

Close Your Eyes, April 12
Four films in 50 years isn’t much of an output, but when you’re iconic Spanish director Víctor Erice it’s a different matter entirely. His 1973 debut The Spirit Of The Beehive, a cult classic regarded by many as the best Spanish film ever made, starred eight-year-old Ana Torrent as a girl who encounters a wounded Republican soldier at the end of the Spanish Civil War and conflates him with a character from a film she has recently seen – courtesy of a mobile cinema – James Whale’s iconic 1931 take on Frankenstein. Here, the 83-year-old director and his now 57-year-old former star are reunited for a tale of mystery, memory and loss.

Impulse: Music In Motion, March 8-13

The ever-innovative Scottish Ensemble brings an imaginative take to the music of Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich in this new production. Playing from memory will free the musicians to move around the stage in sequences both choreographed and entirely improvised.

Touring to: Glasgow (RSNO New Auditorium), Dundee (Caird Hall), Inverness (Eden Court) and Perth (Perth Concert Hall).

The Smile
Radiohead mainstays Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood blind-sided fans somewhat when they hooked up with ace young drummer Tom Skinner of (now disbanded) nu-jazz luminaries Sons Of Kemet. That was in, well, who knows? The first we saw of them was in the lockdown-affected live stream special put on by the Glastonbury Festival in 2021. Since then there has been an album and the trio have returned to more tried and tested methods of putting their music in front of audiences. Second album Wall Of Eyes is out next month and they arrive in Glasgow in March for the supporting tour.

SEC Armadillo, Glasgow (March 20)

Troye Sivan
It will be February before we know if the Australian actor-turned-LGBT pop icon takes home either of the two Grammys for which he is nominated. But win or lose he has had an epic year thanks to well-received third album Something To Give Each Other: it topped the charts in his homeland and in lead single Rush provided one of the year’s bona fide pop bangers. Sivan arrives in Glasgow in June for one of only four UK dates as part of a month-long European tour.

OVO Hydro, Glasgow (June 23)

Nicola Benedetti Plays Simson
The Simson here is English composer Mark Simson, whose specially commissioned Violin Concerto will be given its premiere alongside Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No 5 in a concert which sees the celebrated violinist team up with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Expect to be wowed.

Music Hall, Aberdeen (March 21), Usher Hall, Edinburgh (March 22), Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow (March 23)

Glasgow International

Scotland’s sort-of take on the Venice Biennale celebrates its 10th edition next year and, as ever, runs across many venues in the city, some more surprising than others. The theme for 2024 has been devised by artist Matthew Arthur Williams and designer Maeve Redmond and is inspired by the city’s environment and built heritage. Among a long list of participants is Susan Philipsz, the Glasgow-born artist who won the 2010 Turner Prize.

Various venues, Glasgow (June 7-23)

The Herald: Eduardo PaolozziEduardo Paolozzi

Paolozzi at 100
Marking the centenary of the birth of Scottish Pop Art luminary and Edinburgh boy Eduardo Paolozzi, this retrospective features his greatest hits, among them the wonderful mosaics he created for London’s Tottenham Court Road tube station. Regular attenders at Modern Two will know it already hosts his seven metre high representation of the Roman god of fire, Vulcan.

National Galleries of Scotland Modern Two (January 27-April 21)

Women In Revolt!
A transfer from London, where it has been enlightening and delighting gallery-goers at Tate Britain, this survey of feminism-inspired creativity carries the subtitle Art And Activism In The UK and covers a period from 1970 to 1990. More than 100 artists are featured and among the subjects covered are the Women’s Liberation Movement, punk rock and Greenham Common.

National Galleries of Scotland Modern Two, Edinburgh (May 25-January 26, 2025)