This is probably the last normal week before people start disappearing from your workplace - because they've booked time off for Christmas, we hasten to add, not because of any sinister goings on. That's no excuse to start slacking off in a cultural sense though - there are still plenty of great things to see and do, not least a special quizmas edition of spoken word night Rally & Broad and your last chance to get down at Hot Dub Time Machine this Christmas.
Things to Do
Rally & Broad, Bongo Club, Fri Dec 19
Poets Jenny Lindsay (aka Rally) and Rachael McCrum (aka Broad) take over London-based literary quiz show Never Mind the Full Stops as part of their regular performance night. In addition to NMTFS host Paula Varjack, guests include musician Toby Mottorshead of the Black Diamond Express, singer-songwriter Chrissy Barnacle and performance poet Michael Pedersen.
Festive Family Fun Day, Palace of Holyrood House, Sat Dec 21
The Queen's official Scottish residence comes over all Christmassy at this family-friendly event, with storytelling, face painting, arts and crafts, festive food and Christmas carol performances, plus classic Victorian games, activities and costumes for the kiddies.
Rock’n’Roll Ping Pong, Bongo Club, Sun Dec 21
Sure, table tennis is pretty darn cool already, but do you know what would make it cooler? Beer, free snacks and a rip-roaring garage/punk/rock’n’roll soundtrack.
Edinburgh’s Christmas, City Centre, until Sun Jan 4
Three Christmas markets, an ice rink apiece in St Andrew Square and Princes Street and a fully operational Santa Land now complement the iconic Big Wheel at the capital's annual festive festival, with numerous shows and performances into the evening.
Game Masters, National Museum of Scotland, until Mon Apr 20
Giving the museum an atmosphere of arcade excitement, 'Game Masters' celebrates over 30 years of video gaming history, including the work of Peter Molyneux ('Minecraft'), Warren Spector ('Deus Ex'), Tim Schafer ('Grim Fandango') and Hideo Kojima ('Metal Gear Solid').
Theatre & Dance
The Devil Masters, Traverse Theatre, until Wed Dec 24
Surreal black comedy in which an upper-middle class couple - both working in the legal profession - enter into tense negotiations when an intruder breaks into their home.
White, Traverse Theatre, Wed Dec 17-Wed Dec 24
Child-friendly festive show in which an entirely white world gradually becomes infected with colour in the run-up to Christmas.
The BFG, Royal Lyceum Theatre, until Sat 3 Jan
The Lyceum’s Christmas show this year is a restaging of Roald Dahl’s gruesome fairytale concerning plucky orphans, man-eating giants and stinky snozzcumbers.
Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, until Sat Jan 3
A traditional Christmas highlight, 'The Nutcracker' (as choreographed by company founder Peter Darrell) is one of the biggest guns in the Scottish Ballet armoury. This year's edition features sets from Olivier Award-winning designer Lez Brotherston, as young Clara dreams her way through adventures with the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Stick Man, St Andrew Square, until Sun Jan 4
Julia Donaldson’s story of a twiggy hero attempting to return home to the family tree is adapted for the stage by children’s theatre company Scamp (who previously proved their book adaptation chops with Michael Morpurgo's ‘Private Peaceful’).
Wicked, The Edinburgh Playhouse, until Sat Jan 10
The hit West End musical is finally on tour around the UK, letting Edinburgh’s theatre-goers in on the origin story of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Aladdin, King’s Theatre, until Sun Jan 18
In Edinburgh’s pantomime season, this is the grand daddy (or dame). Panto pros Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and the villainous Grant Stott (boo hiss!) are the ones rubbing the lamp this year, with 3D special effects now a standard part of the bargain.
Tony Conrad: Invented Acoustical Tools, Inverleith House, until Sun Jan 18
Marking his debut solo appearance in the UK, this exhibition brings together several of the American artist’s musical instruments, as well as screening his 1966 film ‘The Flicker’.
RSA Open, Royal Scottish Academy, until Tue Jan 20
It’s time again for the Royal Scottish Academy’s always essential Open exhibition, bringing together contemporary artists from across Scotland and beyond.
Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Scottish Art, Scottish National Galleries, until Sun Jan 25
The nationwide Generation project, which celebrates the last quarter-century of Scottish visual art, rumbles on with exhibitions and installations at all three of Edinburgh’s National Galleries. We’re particularly impressed with the fantastic show at Modern Art One, which features works by Ross Sinclair, Graham Fagen, Douglas Gordon, Alison Watt and Charles Avery.
Chloe Dewe Mathews: Shot at Dawn, Stills Gallery, until Sun Jan 25
Catch this evocative photography exhibition, which captures landscapes of WWI execution sites in the modern day, before it heads down south to the Tate.
Christopher Orr: The Beguiled Eye, Talbot Rice Gallery, until Sat Feb 14
There's a contrast of style and content in this exhibition, as Orr uses the artistic grammar of the Old Masters to depict anachronistic scenes from 1950s postcards and National Geographic magazines, overlaying the whole with a sinister, spectral element.
Gap in the Air: A Festival of Sonic Art, Talbot Rice Gallery, until Sat Feb 14
Making fantastic use of William Playfair’s domed Georgian Gallery design, this series showcases sonic art in one of the city’s most acoustically-inclined galleries. The season kicks of with Disinformation’s sine wave installation ‘The Analysis of Beauty’.
Stan Douglas, Fruitmarket Gallery, until Sun Feb 15
Exhibition of the Canadian artist's noirish film, video and photography works that explore the junction between history and memory.
BP Portrait Award, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, until Sun Apr 12
Prestigious international portraiture exhibition, showcasing selected entries in addition Thomas Ganter’s winning painting of a homeless German windscreen washer.
Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse: Ponte City, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, until Sun Apr 26
The titular 54-storey residential block in Johannesburg, South Africa was originally built as an upmarket living space for white residents in the 1970s. Post-apartheid, and following a failed renovation, the crumbling monolith is now home to a large number of immigrants from neighbouring African nations. Subotzky and Waterhouse's photography documents the recent history of these immigrants and the building.
Music & Nightlife
Mike Heron and Trembling Bells, Sneaky Pete’s, Tue Dec 16
In what is now a traditional winter appearance, former Incredible String Band member Heron joins forces with Alex Neilson’s psych-folk-rock posse.
Hot Dub Time Machine, St Andrew Square, until Wed Dec 17
DJ Tom Loud returns to the site of previous Fringe successes with his decades-spanning, crowd pleasing, audio-visual disco party.
In Deep, Sneaky Pete’s, Fri Dec 19
hoya:hoya's Jon K and Firecracker Recordings' House of Traps perform a label boss double-header at Sneaky's stellar Friday nighter.
Deacon Blue, Usher Hall, Sat Dec 20
Ricky Ross, Lorraine McIntosh and co fill the Usher Hall with pop-rock anthems from their nearly 30-year career, including 'Dignity', 'Wages Day' and songs from their latest album 'A New House', released in September.
Song by Toad Christmas Party, Henry’s Cellar Bar, Sat Dec 20
Annual Crimbo shindig from the Edinburgh DIY label, with performances from Plastic Animals and Garden of Elks plus a DJ sets from Irregular Owl Movements (aka eagleowl) and Mrs Toad.
Wasabi Disco, Sneaky Pete’s, Sat Dec 20
Sneaky's resident floor-filler welcomes Dusseldorf's Wolf Muller for a night of, in their words, 'percussive wigged out psychedelic dance music!'
The RSNO Christmas Concert: The Snowman, Usher Hall, Sun Dec 21
Actor Blythe Duff joins the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for a performance of Raymond Briggs' famous wintry story, with a few extra Christmas treats thrown in.
Watch & Wolf: The Wizard of Oz, Scottish National Gallery, Thu Dec 18
Edinburgh food adventurers Jelly & Gin add a new dimension to the world of film-watching, by serving up food you eat along with the characters on-screen. On Thursday it’s 'The Wizard of Oz'.