OFTEN overlooked as an essential part of a nation’s wellbeing, culture has more than proved its worth during the pandemic.

Despite being one of the sectors most hard hit by the coronavirus restrictions, musicians, artists, poets, dancers, actors and other theatre-makers have tried to adapt as much as possible in order to stay solvent, as well as provide much-needed distractions for a population severely under stress.

Never has the maxim “the show must go on” been more appropriate, and while most of us may only be able, like Burns, to “guess an’ fear” as we look to the future, the cultural sector seems set to demonstrate its resilience throughout 2022.

Covid restrictions permitting, the following are just some of the highlights already planned.


THE year begins with Celtic Connections, which has grown since its inception 29 years ago into a renowned cultural phenomenon, brightening the bleak days of January.

This year, the UK’s premier celebration of roots music runs from January 20 until February 6 with thousands of musicians, covering traditional folk, roots, Americana, jazz, soul, indie and world music, performing at venues across Glasgow over the course of the 18-day event.

In celebration of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, there will be a number of special events under the strand Shetland: The Hidden Tales marking five and a half centuries since Shetland became part of Scotland.

This includes the addition of a new show called A Peerie Foy, a contemporary concert version of a traditional house ceilidh – or “peerie foy” in Shetland dialect – which will incorporate music, stories and poetry from the some of the island’s most revered cultural talent, including poets Christie Williamson and Christine De Luca, fiddlers Maurice Henderson, Margaret Robertson, Catriona Macdonald and Chris Stout (below), young jazz saxophonist Norman Willmore and harp innovator Catriona McKay, of Fiddlers’ Bid fame.

The National: Fiddler Chris Stout on the Culture cast and the first live music in the Herald & Times Studio..

This strand will include Sgeulachdan: Tales of the Gaels, a special concert where stories, myths and musings from rich Gaelic culture will be brought to life through the music and songs of Allan Henderson, Margaret Stewart and special guests at the Mitchell Theatre on February 4.

Celtic Connections 2022 will also pay tribute to some Scottish cultural greats over the course of its 18 days. Beyond the Swelkie, a collection of poetry and prose in English, Scots and Gaelic celebrating the centenary of Orcadian poet, author and dramatist George Mackay Brown (below), will be brought to life through readings from poet Jim Mackintosh, visuals and music from Duncan Chisholm and Hamish Napier on January 27.

The National: Writer George MacKay Brown at home in Kirkwall...2/12/88..pic: Jim Galloway, Newsquest Media Group..E9103.

Two days later at Òran Mór, Leventime: A Tribute to Jackie Leven will commemorate 10 years since the death of the influential Scottish songwriter and folk musician. Jackie’s partner Deborah Greenwood and friend and colleague Ian Rankin will lead friends and admirers including Boo Hewerdine, Rab Noakes, Jinder, Michael Weston King, Malcolm Lindsay, Doghouse Roses and Dumb Instrument through a selection from his extensive song catalogue.


BURNS Night remains a cultural highlight in January in Scotland but, sadly, the pandemic has again hit the Big Burns Supper in Dumfries and Galloway which has been rescheduled for June 2022 amid rising Covid-19 cases.

However, a free Burns Night show featuring Eddi Reader (below) and special guests will still go ahead online on January 25 at 7pm on the Big Burns Supper Facebook and YouTube channels. A summer edition of the festival will run from June 10-26 and the majority of shows will be rescheduled, where possible.

The National: Eddi Reader performs onstage during Rewind Scotland 2019 at Scone Palace on July 20, 2019 in Perth. (Photo by Lorne Thomson/Redferns).

There is also a Burns Big Night In streaming live from the Bard’s Alloway cottage on January 22, presented by Edith Bowman and featuring music, song and poetry. It is being hosted by the National Trust for Scotland after the success of its first virtual Burns supper last year and all profits will go to the organisation’s conservation work.

Members of the public are being asked to take part in a performance for the Burns Big Night In by submitting videos of themselves reciting To A Mouse, one of Burns’s most famous poems. A selection of recordings will then be edited together into a video to be shown on the night to an audience of Burns fans from around the world. Submit them as landscape videos saved as MP4 files by January 12 at bbni@luxevents.co.uk

Also on January 25, The Ghosting of Rabbie Burns will be staged at the Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary despite very difficult operating conditions during the pandemic. Featuring the great songs and poems of Burns, The Ghosting of Rabbie Burns sets out to prove that love and relationships haven’t changed that much in 200 years after all.

The Macrobert 2022 programme also includes A Mother’s Song – In Concert, where some of Scotland’s best folk musicians will join together for a night of songs from the bold and life-affirming new musical A Mother’s Song, which traces the incredible journey of Scottish folk music across the Atlantic.


LIGHTING up the skies in February is Spectra, Scotland’s festival of light, which returns to Aberdeen. This year the four-day event takes inspiration from Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. From February 10-13, Spectra will use interactive light sculptures, architectural projections and film to create new ways of exploring the city. It will also celebrate the humour, seriousness and sheer gallusness of Scotland’s finest contemporary storytellers by beaming their prose and poetry in large-scale projections and neon on to buildings.

The light festival is part of a nationwide programme of more than 60 events unveiled to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories. These include StAnza, Scotland’s international poetry festival, from March 7-13 in St Andrews. Since the festival was founded by three local poets in 1998, StAnza has gained an international reputation and won the Saboteur Award for Best Literary Festival in the UK last year.

It has decided to continue widening its reach by staging both online and in-person events, while the Scotland’s Young Makars programme aims to enable more people to engage with a form which is often seen as difficult.

This year, more than 100 poets will bring their languages, cultures, challenges, meditations, experiments and passions to the festival.

Stornoway’s An Lanntair is also taking part in the Year of Stories and will be presenting Seanchas – a series of events, films and special commissions celebrating tales from the Hebrides both real and imagined, modern and ancient.

In Skye, SEALL and Gaelic singer Anne Martin will lead An Tinne, a collection of songs, stories and objects from across the centuries exploring the deep and fascinating connection between Scotland and Australia, while Moray’s Findhorn Bay Festival will offer a journey of exploration and discovery, celebrating the area’s heritage, landscape and people.

OTHER events include the Borders Book Festival in Melrose and the Wigtown Book Festival which will present two new commissions – Into the Nicht, an immersive Dark Skies tour, and Walter in Wonderland, a whirlwind theatrical tour through the history of the nation’s literature.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in June, Edinburgh International Film Festival will bring Scotland’s Stories On Screen to famed places and spaces, while the Dundee Summer (Bash) Street Festival in July will highlight the city as the home of comics, celebrating its characters, stories, history and upcoming talent. Dundee will be renamed Beanotown for the duration, with a pop-up comic museum, workshops, talks, film screenings and street fun.

In August, the world-renowned Edinburgh International Book Festival will present Scotland’s Stories Now to prove everyone has a story to tell, with tales gathered from across the country and then shared at the flagship event.

In the autumn, the Northern Stories Festival led by Lyth Arts Centre in Caithness will host a celebration of the stories of the Far North.

There are also a number of events that will take place across the year, with some touring the country.

Around 100 events will be supported through the Community Stories Fund including Weaving with Words: the Magic of Highland Storytelling at Hugh Miller’s Birthplace Museum, which will feature a series of guided storytelling walks around Cromarty from April to October, inspired by the life and works of the 19th-century geologist, folklorist and social justice campaigner.

The fund is also supporting the telling of the distinctive story of Easterhouse by Glasgow East Arts Company together with local residents in Mining Seams and Drawing Wells.