The days might be getting shorter and cooler, but Scotland’s event calendar is as busy as ever.
This autumn, Scotland brings you a fantastic array of online, hybrid and in-person events. From the great outdoors to live music whisky, and cinema – not to mention some suitably macabre fare in time for Halloween, you’re bound to find an event you won’t want to miss.
Here are just some of the fantastic events happening across the length and breadth of the country this season. Whatever your interest or age, there’s plenty for you to experience at this time of year.
Scotland is glorious in autumn. Find everything you need to plan your Scottish autumn break today.
Arts and Culture
- Samhuinn Fire Festival – 31 October. Edinburgh celebrates the Celtic New Year on Halloween with Samhuinn, which marks the onset of winter with a rousing procession of fire dancing, acrobatics, drumming and immersive performances depicting a stand-off between the mythical summer and winter kings.
- Scottish International Storytelling Festival – 15 – 31 October. Returning in 2021 to showcase Scotland’s rich culture through stories, tradition, and more, this year’s festival is centred around the theme of Imagine, encouraging visitors to envision different worlds whether past, present, or imaginary.
- Northern Lights Festival – 8 – 16 October. This new arts festival celebrating the Caithness coastline takes over Wick Harbour with a visually stunning projection show. Talks, performances, and exhibitions to mark Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters will also feature.
- Paisley Halloween Festival – 28 October – 1 November. This year’s festival presents the extra-terrestrial-themed Out of this World showcase – an illuminated trail of installations and light displays centred on the River Cart. Take in the other-worldly illuminations alongside family-friendly entertainment.
- Book Week Scotland – 15 – 21 November. This annual celebration is a time for people of all ages to get together in libraries, schools, community spaces and other places, to share in their mutual love of books and reading.
Food and Drink
- Edinburgh Cocktail Week – 11 – 24 October. This festival is back for two weekends. Over 100 signature cocktails are on offer at venues across the city for just £4 with a festival wristband. Enjoy masterclasses, tastings, ‘cocktail’ crazy golf, and the return Cocktail Village, which brings together a fantastic array of bars and spirit brands under one marquee canopy.
- Stirling Whisky Festival – 30 October. This autumn marks 10 years of this much-loved whisky festival. As ever, major whisky brands will be showcasing their finest drams and spilling the secrets behind the ancient art of whisky distillation.
- Bowhouse Market Weekends – 13 – 14 November. Stock up at Fife’s biggest food and drink market. Some of Scotland’s finest artisanal brands will be there selling their delectable produce alongside an irresistible selection of street food and drink, from freshly roasted coffee to succulent pheasant burgers.
- The Royal National MOD – 8 – 16 October. With a warm Ceud mile failte (one hundred thousand welcomes) The Royal National MOD invites you back to Scotland’s premier celebration of Gaelic language and culture, in Inverness. Expect Highland dancing, concerts, exhibitions, and a celebration of all things Gaelic.
- Royal Scottish National Orchestra – Autumn Season 2021. The prestigious performing arts company returns with live concerts across Scotland which will see acclaimed Music Director Thomas Søndergård present a trio of concerts including The Firebird, Dvořák’s New World Symphony and Sibelius’ Symphony No2.
- Scottish Opera – Autumn Season 2021. This autumn opera lovers can look forward to two productions of Gilbert & Sullivan operas, The Gondoliers, and the company premiere of Utopia, Limited, both exciting new co-productions with D’Oyly Carte Opera & State Opera South Australia.
Film and Theatre
- Cinescapes 2021 – 1 July – 16 October. This touring film festival is making its way across Scotland, bringing you some of the best Scottish-themed films ever produced. Starting off with Trainspotting, in Leith on 4 July, stay tuned for more coming throughout the year.
- Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival – 1 – 17 October. Returning for its eighth edition, cinephiles will once more have the chance to delve into Spain’s fantastically rich film and TV landscape. This year’s festival offers a mix of hybrid and online screenings, as well as in-person events at venues including the French Institute and Filmhouse in Edinburgh, and Aberdeen’s Belmont Picturehouse.
- Edinburgh Horror Festival – 21 – 31 October. This multi-media horror extravaganza is back with a vengeance offering both in-person and online events in venues such as the Banshee Labyrinth and Edinburgh Dungeon.
Outdoor and Sport
- Scottish Geology Festival – 1 September – 17 October. Did you know that many of the fundamental discoveries which shaped our understanding of Earth’s formation were made in Scotland? Find out more during this action-packed festival featuring everything from online talks to field trips.
- The Scottish Tree Festival – 28 September – 1 December. Savour the beauty of Scotland’s magnificent forests, woodlands, and gardens this autumn with an array of activities and events suitable for the whole family.
- RowAround Scotland – 4 June – October. Join this relay in open rowing boats around the coast of Scotland, organised by the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association. All 70 of the member clubs are taking part, bringing together communities as they explore Scotland’s coastlines and waters.
- MoRun: 1.5K, 5K & 10K – 7 November. Autumn is the perfect time to tackle a running event and few are more fun than these flat-road races usually held in Glasgow, but this year transferred to the nearby town of Falkirk. Put your stamina to the test for a worthy cause and help raise funds and awareness of men’s health issues.
Find out what other events in Scotland are happening near you this autumn. You can also explore all kinds of virtual and live streaming events with The List.