SO, here we go again. Another Covid-inhibited January. Another winter when we're encouraged to stay in and keep safe. It's what we need to do, but let's not pretend there's much fun in it.

As we start this New Year, though, let's begin with a spot of hope. Because, pandemic permitting, 2022 is shaping up to be a great year for culture in Scotland. Here are 20 of the highlights to look foward to over the next few months.

Glasgow Film Festival

HeraldScotland: The film I Am Samuel, part of the African Stories strand at this year's GFFThe film I Am Samuel, part of the African Stories strand at this year's GFF

The full programme won’t be announced until January 26, but this year’s Glasgow Film Festival is already showing its ambition with the news that, for the first time, premieres will be screened simultaneously at Glasgow Film Theatre and in cinemas across Scotland and the UK.

Big names are promised, but in the meantime the festival has already announced a focus on contemporary African cinema (African Stories) and a retrospective of the films of Edith Carlmar, Norway’s first female film director. Look out for her 1949 movie Death is a Caress, the first Norwegian film noir and a precursor to the whole Scandinoir phenomenon.

This year’s Glasgow Film Festival runs from March 2 to March 13. Visit glasgowfilm.org 

The Ipcress File

How can you have Harry Palmer without Michael Caine? We aren’t sure either. But Joe Cole of Peaky Blinders and Gangs of London fame is the man to step into Caine’s shoes for this new ITV adaptation of Len Deighton’s spy thriller. Lucy Boynton, Tom Hollander and Ashley Thomas join Cole in the cast, but the credit that’s most reassuring might be that of Scottish screenwriter John Hodge, who is possibly still best known for adapting Trainspotting for the big screen. Emmy award winning director James Watkins (Black Mirror, McMafia, The Woman in Black) is the man behind the camera.

The Ipcress File will air early this year

Granite Noir

HeraldScotland: Denise MinaDenise Mina

Sating our taste for all things criminal, Granite Noir returns for its sixth time in Aberdeen next month with a programme of live events and performances.

Guests this year include Denise Mina, Louise Welsh, Ann Cleeves and Scandinoir authors including Kjell Ola Dahl and Silje Ulstein, while Dr Julia Shaw and comedian Sofie Hagen will record a new episode of their true crime podcast Bad People during the festival.

All of which should tide you over until Bloody Scotland celebrates its tenth birthday in Stirling in the autumn.

Visit aberdeenperformingarts.com

Benediction

In which Britain’s greatest living film director Terence Davies gives us his sombre, painterly vision of the hell of the First World War. A portrait of the war poet Siegfried Sassoon (played by both Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi), the film also uses Sassoon’s own words over archive footage to create a film about sexuality and masculinity and the horror of war that the Guardian has described as “piercingly sad”.

Davies is, in many ways, a throwback to an earlier film era. We are lucky he has been so productive in ours.

Benediction goes on general release on May 13

Audubon’s Birds of America

Showcasing 46 unbound prints from the National Museum of Scotland’s own copy of one of the world’s rarest (and largest) books, most previously never displayed, this exhibition celebrates the art of American ornithologist and painter John James Audubon.

Audubon studied and painted the birds of America in the 19th century at life scale over four volumes. This exhibition offers a unique chance to see much of Audubon’s work up-close.

It will also explore the controversial life of Audubon himself, a man whose portrait hangs in the White House for his dedication to the cause of nature and yet someone whose reputation has also been dogged with claims of fabricating some species.

The follow-up show in July, Anatomy: A Matter of Death and Life, which opens in July explores the history of anatomical studies taking in everyone from Leonardo da Vinci (courtesy of a loan from the Queen herself) to the body snatchers Burke and Hare.

Audubon’s Birds of America runs at the National Museum of Scotland from February 12 to May 8. Anatomy: A Matter of Life and Death opens on July 1. Visit nms.ac.uk 

St Vincent

HeraldScotland:

Our favourite Texan rock star visits the Scottish capital this summer for her Daddy’s Home tour, in support of her latest album which saw her channelling 1970s New York shabby chic and power chords. Inspired by her father’s return from prison in 2019, it’s an album that comes trailing influences that encompass Pink Floyd and Stevie Wonder.

St Vincent plays the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on June 29

Maxine Peake

HeraldScotland: Maxine Peake in new drama AnneMaxine Peake in new drama Anne

We will possibly arrive at Peak Peake this year as the actress fronts two new TV dramas. For the Beeb she heads up a cast that includes Alison Steadman, Rakhee Thakrar and Susan Wokoma in Rules of the Game, a four-part thriller about sexual politics in the contemporary workplace (inspired by Harvey Weinstein scandal). And then in Anne over on STV she plays Anne Williams who spent decades fighting for justice after the death of her 15-year-old son in the Hillsborough tragedy. Tears may be shed.

Anne starts on STV tonight

Pacing the Void: Rhona Warwick Paterson and Eve Mutso

HeraldScotland: Eve Mutso at Mount Stuart HouseEve Mutso at Mount Stuart House

A highlight of Mount Stuart’s 2022 cultural programme is this collaboration between Glasgow artist and writer Rhona Warwick Paterson and dancer and choreographer Eve Mutso, former Principal Dancer of Scottish Ballet.

The duo has been commissioned to create a new piece of live art – a dance poem entitled Pacing the Void – to be performed in Mount Stuart’s Marble Hall this summer (date to be confirmed). The result will be a mash-up of astronomy, dance and ritual. That should be worth the boat trip to Bute.

Before that, Mount Stuart House will also host the first Scottish exhibition by Iranian-born, Canadian-based artist Abbas Akhavan at the end of April.

Visit mountstuart.com

Sonica

The biennial Sonica festival returns to Glasgow in March and already confirmed are Roly Porter’s collaboration with MFO on Kistvaen which will be performed for the first time in Gaelic by singer Anne Martin.

And if that wasn’t enough, composer Gavin Bryars, no less, will conduct in Scotland for the first time ever. Leading the RSNO, the septuagenarian composer will unveil the UK premiere of his new work Viola Concerto (A Hut in Toyama).

Sonica takes place in Glasgow from March 10 to March 20. Visit sonic-a.co.uk

Belfast

HeraldScotland: Sir Kenneth Branagh at Belfast City HallSir Kenneth Branagh at Belfast City Hall

Kenneth Branagh’s new film sees him recreate his childhood in Belfast at the start of the Troubles. The resulting black and white drama is already Oscar tipped. In truth it’s not quite as impressive a cinematic feat as, say, Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar-winning Roma, which also explores the director’s family story in black and white (Belfast carries a little too much sentimental ballast for that). But its heart is very much in the right place, Branagh gives his actors room to breathe, and it has a smattering of mordant Ulster humour to help it along.

The result is possibly the least showy film Branagh has ever made and it’s all the better for it (though, to be fair, the riot near the beginning is impressively staged it must be said).

Belfast goes on general release on January 21

Celtic Connections

HeraldScotland: Stina Marie ClaireStina Marie Claire

OK, thanks to Omicrom we don't know what kind of Celtic Connections we are going to get this year. We can only cross our fingers and hope. In theory it will offer a warming treat during the bitter cold days of January. There are so many highlights it might be easier to just throw a dart at the programme to pick what to see. But, if you insist, can we point you in the direction of Kathryn Joseph’s collaboration with Tinderbox Collective at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (January 29), the tribute to the late Jackie Leven (Leventime, Oran Mor, January 29) featuring the likes of Rab Noakes and Boo Hewerdine, Lloyd Cole (Royal Concert Hall, January 31), Anoushka Shankar’s collaboration with Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Royal Concert Hall, January 28), Stina Marie Claire (Aka Honeyblood) playing solo (CCA, January 30) and Twilight Sad playing a stripped-back gig at the Old Fruitmarket (January 21)

But the show we’re most looking forward to is the appearance of Arooj Aftab (Drygate Brewery, February 6), the Grammy-nominated Brooklyn-based Pakistani composer and singer-songwriter whose album Vulture Prince was one of the highlights of 2021. Influenced by ghazals, Sufi poetry, jazz, Hindu classicalism and contemporary minimalism, the result is thrillingly otherworldly.

Celtic Connections runs from January 18 to February 6. Visit celticconnections.com 

The Batman

Come March it will be difficult to avoid this latest reboot of the dark knight detective, this time with Robert Pattinson in the lead role. The cast – which includes Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Barry Keoghan, Andy Serkis and Colin Farrell – is suitably starry, but, really, you’ll come for the spectacle. And maybe for the chance to spot the bits where Glasgow stands in for Gotham.

The Batman goes on general release on March 4

Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer

HeraldScotland: Michael Clarke in Because We Must, Sadler's Wells, 1987Michael Clarke in Because We Must, Sadler's Wells, 1987

Originally on display at London’s Barbican in 2020 before it was rudely interrupted by Covid, this is the first major exhibition on Scotland’s pioneering Scottish dancer and choreographer who combined his classical training with a punk influence to reinvent contemporary dance in the UK. The exhibition will take in Clarke’s collaborations with Leigh Bowery, Bodymap and (of course) The Fall and serve as a reminder of one of Scotland’s most protean talents.

Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer runs at V&A Dundee from February 26 to September 2022. Visit vam.ac.uk 

The reopening of the Burrell Collection

Only three months to go. After a five-year, multimillion pound refurbishment, The Burrell Collection is set to reopen this March, with some 35 per cent more gallery space. The lengthy closure has given the museum the chance to rethink and reinvent how it displays one of the largest personal art collections ever amassed. The result is new displays and old favourites, now extending over three floors.

Visit burrellcollection.com 

Parallel Mothers

HeraldScotland: Milena Smit and Penelop Cruz in Parallel MothersMilena Smit and Penelop Cruz in Parallel Mothers

Any year with a new Pedro Almodovar movie in it is one to celebrate and we don’t have to wait too long for Parallel Mothers. Starring a typically transcendent Penelope Cruz (does that woman know anything about the ageing process?), it tells the story of two mothers-to-be who meet in the maternity ward and whose lives intertwine thereafter. What follows is a lush, beautifully mounted melodrama that takes you by surprise when it taps into a deep well of feeling around the subject of historical memory. Minor(ish) Almodovar perhaps, but it still towers over everything else around it. And, as ever, Almodovar’s eye for interior décor and costume means it’s the kind of film you wish you could walk into and live inside.

Parallel Mothers goes on general release on January 28

Young Mungo

HeraldScotland:

When your debut novel comes from nowhere to win the Booker Prize it’s possible you might feel a weight of expectation when publishing your second. But Douglas Stuart returns in April with his next novel, Young Mungo, which like its predecessor, Shuggie Bain, explores working-class life in late 20th-century Glasgow.

This time around, Stuart tackles sexuality and sectarianism in the 1990s. The result is a gay love story set against a backdrop of gangland culture. A novel to tide you over until Stuart’s own adaptation of Shuggie Bain reaches our TV screens.

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart is published by Picador in April

Orphans

Opening at the Beacon Theatre in Greenock on April 1, this National Theatre of Scotland musical take on Peter Mullan’s tragicomic film sees Cora Bissett direct a book by Douglas Maxwell, with a score by Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly. Robert Florence of Burnistoun fame and Amy Conachan from Holloyaks are among the cast.

Orphans opens at the Beacon Theatre on April 1 and runs until April 30 before going on a Scottish tour. Visit nationaltheatrescotland.com 

The Scandal at Mayerling

HeraldScotland:

April sees Scottish Ballet perform Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s 1978 ballet based on the apparent suicide of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria and his lover Baroness Mary Vetsera in the woods outside Vienna in 1889. Using the music of Franz Liszt, this reimagined take on MacMillan’s original will be the first time the ballet has been performed outside London.

Visit scottishballet.co.uk

Duran Duran

The 1980s have never really gone away, have they? Not when it comes to music. The stars who made their name in that decade can still be found treading the boards at a venue near you. 2022 will be no different. This summer (on July 2) sees Duran Duran play the Caledonian Stadium in Inverness. Billy Idol supported by The Go-Gos no less, will be playing Glasgow’s Ovo Hydro on June 11, Erasure can be seen at Aberdeen P & J Live in May and Madness are scheduled for The Big Top at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh on June 12.

A little earlier in the year in April, seventies veterans (now themselves in their seventies) Blondie play the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, supported by another eighties legend, Johnny Marr (hopefully prompting many choruses of “We’re not worth, we’re not worthy”).

And if all that sounds a bit old codgery to you then be aware that both Belle & Sebastian and Franz Ferdinand have tours lined up this spring.

A Taste for Impressionism

HeraldScotland: Edgar Degas, Before the Performance, about 1896 - 1898 Edgar Degas, Before the Performance, about 1896 - 1898

Likely to be the hot ticket art exhibition of the year, this looks at impressionist art draws on the collections of contemporary Scottish art collectors in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The works of Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh will be on display alongside counterfeit impressionist paintings that began to emerge when the market began to take off.

Earlier in the year Barbara Hepworth: Life and Art opens at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two) on April 9 and is a potent reminder of the power of the sculptor’s work. Curated by Eleanor Clayton and organised by The Hepworth Wakefield in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate St Ives, this is a punchy exploration of an artistic life lived out at times on a grand scale. You will also want to take every sculpture home with you (though it’s possible your living room might not be big enough for a lot of them).

A Taste for Impressionism opens at the Royal Scottish Academy on July 13 and runs until November. Barbara Hepworth: Life and Art is at Modern Two from April 9 until October 2. Visit nationalgalleries.org