WE MAY well be entering the final furlough, sorry furlong, of lockdown but there are still a few more nights to get through before the pubs, clubs and theatres open again. So, in the meantime, Andrea Pearson has compiled some great ways to enjoy social interaction from the safety of the sofa.

Cheers to that

Can’t go to out drinking? Don’t fret. Let the drinking come to you. And when we say drinking … we mean considered, grown-up, educational drinking. As you would imagine in Scotland there are plenty to choose from.

 For example, Once Upon A Whisky hosts tastings via WebEx, posting samples and notes out in advance and regaling participants with quirky facts and anecdotes on the night. onceuponawhisky.co.uk


It is an entertaining way to get into the spirit but if whisky is not your thing, try dipping into Wine Events Scotland where host Diana Thompson introduces guests to new regions, varieties, and supermarket bargains. Sessions are limited to smallish numbers so those joining in are free to either sit back and relax or pipe up with questions to winemakers Zooming in from Argentina, Australia or wherever.

“People are really enjoying it,” she explains. “So many people say it has made a huge difference to them in lockdown.” wineeventsscotland.co.uk


Pandemic or not, the show must go on. Across the country the ingenuity of theatres and performers has been remarkable. The Pitlochry Festival Theatre and The Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh have commissioned new audio plays to perform in a Covid-secure way, while Scottish Opera has made full-length performances of Cosi Fan Tutte and Hansel and Gretel available to watch online. scottishopera.org.uk/shows


The RSNO ran a series of virtual concerts and next will be Britten’s Les Illuminations on February 26, with chief executive Alistair Mackie, saying: “Until we can meet again in concert halls, we will work to bring music into homes.” rsno.org.uk/digital-season

Scottish Ballet has joined Covid efforts by offering wellbeing classes via the company’s YouTube channel, “bringing the benefits of movement and the joy of dance to people during these challenging times”, as Christopher Hampson, CEO/artistic director, puts it. youtube.com/scottishballet

Among the other diversionary escapades are the Patter Merchants Comedy Clash, hosted by Des Clarke on March 19 at 8pm – a free fundraiser for Epilepsy Scotland on Zoom. eventbrite.co.uk

Lecture theatre

Why on Earth should students have all the fun? And when we say fun we mean, of course, sitting indoors eating and attending virtual lectures. Well, now we can all make a night of it, listening to experts exploring topics from archaeology to ecology, and most are entirely free to attend. Among the upcoming highlights are: Ahead of Their Time: A Talk in Celebration of International Women’s Day, hosted by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and presented by writer, comedian, and broadcaster Susan Morrison (March 8, 6pm); The Work and Vision Behind Our Forests, part of Climate Week North East that offers insight into forests and their future potential, (March 16, 6pm); Beavers In Scotland, an exploration of the reintroduction of this once-hunted mammal (March 18, 7.30pm); and Ancient Egypt Across Scotland, a National Museums Scotland Collections Review (March 10, 7pm). Log into Eventbrite and search “virtual events” for more suggestions. eventbrite.co.uk


Sightseeing at night, you say? Well, yes – and why not in these topsy-turvy times? Tour guide Andrew Baxter at Glen2glen tours has a full itinerary of guided Highland tours to be enjoyed from the sofa including a Harry Potter Trail, an Orkney adventure and a trip around Culloden. Next up will be On The Trail Of Mary, Queen of Scots, (February 27, 8pm, £10). Learn more about some of the 750 saints associated with Scotland with Blue Badge guide Alasdair Northrop on a live virtual tour, (March 5, 8pm, £10). eventbrite.co.uk

Or go deeper, literally, to discover The Real Mary King’s Close and what it can teach us about pandemics and lockdown measures. Join characters that once inhabited Edinburgh’s sealed network of plague-ridden streets as they are “brought to life” during a series of live guided tours, £12.


Paul Nixon, general manager of The Real Mary King’s Close reveals: “While we have been closed, we’ve been able to delve into our archives and discover previously untold stories about the Close’s history, which we’re looking forward to sharing.” realmarykingsclose.com/event

Let’s get quizzical

OK, quizzes were big at the start of lockdown but consider a revisit – having an external focus to WhatsApp family get-togethers means no more struggling through booze and a serious lack of news.

 Enjoy a gentle evening of easy questions with the twice-weekly Jay’s Virtual Pub Quiz, a record-breaking event hosted by former Lancashire pub landlord and all-round good egg Jay Flynn. youtube.com/TheVirtualPubQuiz

Or why not dive into the specialist Royal Scottish Geolographical Society fundraiser quiz – £2, next on March 8. rsgs.org/geoquizzical-march

Anyone home alone during lockdown will enjoy Goose’s Quizzes – the former pub quiz hosts have notched up more than 300 Twitch evenings so far. You will find bants and chat in the sidebar, and photos posted between questions. While the slow pace may not suit serious quizzers, the friendly online hangout offers a welcoming digital space to anyone feeling a little lonely. goosesquizzes.com

Festival fun

Throughout the pandemic several festivals successfully switched from being live to being virtual, so whether it is music, cinema, science or literature, there is still likely to be a festival for you. Next on the calendar is the Glasgow Film Festival, starting on Wednesday this week (February 24).


Unlike other streaming services, the festival offers viewers the chance to attend world premieres, such as the Tokyo-set dance film Dreams On Fire. As Allison Gardner, co-director of GFF, says: “Not all films in the festival will go on to get UK distribution and releases, so it’s a chance to see something you might never otherwise get to watch.” glasgowfilm.org