Panto season proper kicks off at the end of this week, but if mass audience participation and broad, family-friendly theatrics aren't quite your bag, there are many more low-key events on offer as well, with highlights including after school club for grown-ups Rock & Roll Ping Pong and minimalist indie from Man of Moon.
Things to Do
Edinburgh Secret Santa, sign up until Sun Nov 30
A pretty endearing-sounding community gift project, where you sign up to the website and are assigned a mysterious stranger to exchange presents with. Sign up at the Edinburgh Secret Santa website.
Tales in the Tower, St Giles, Mon Nov 24-Sun Nov 30
We’re all for atmospheric storytelling and poetry – even more so when the venue is the clock tower of St Giles Cathedral. A unique chance to experience some evocative yarn-spinning atop one of Edinburgh’s landmarks, as part of Book Week Scotland.
Poets Against Humanity, The Banshee Labyrinth, Thu Nov 27
If you’ve ever played the cult game 'Cards Against Humanity', you’re probably well acquainted with what an awful human being you are. Why not ease that guilt by listening to other people be awful via the medium of spoken word and comedy?
Murder at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Sat Nov 29
Another Book Week Scotland event, this one taking advantage of the noir atmosphere created by the Stan Douglas exhibition. With spoken word from crime author Doug Johnstone, a ‘split-screen’ short story from Hannah McGill and live jazz from Becc Sanderson (not to mention the Douglas exhibition itself).
Edinburgh’s Christmas, City Centre, until Sun Jan 4
The capital’s annual winter festival starts this weekend, and it’s bigger than ever: 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, with numerous shows and performances into the evening. This week’s highlights include ceilidh dancing, live music and general festivities as part of the St Andrew’s Day celebrations.
Rock & Roll Ping Pong, Bongo Club, Sun Nov 30
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.
Hopelessly Devoted, Assembly Roxy, Mon Nov 24 & Tue Nov 25
Paines Plough and Birmingham Repertory Theatre bring you a new play by Mercury Award-nominated poet Kate Tempest, covering romance, incarceration and the music industry. Which, now that you’ve read them all together, seem perfectly suited to one another, don’t they?
Slope, Traverse Theatre, Wed Nov 26-Sat Nov 29
Pamela Carter’s 2006 play explores the love affair between 19th century poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud. It’s restaged here as part of Glasgay, in particular in response to the 2014 ratification of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill.
Rambert Dance: Rooster, Thu Nov 27-Sat Nov 29
Choreographer Christopher Bruce’s bright and sassy tribute to the 1960s (via the music of the Rolling Stones) is revived following a 13-year absence.
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.
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 part of the standard bargain.
Norbert Delman: S / S / S, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, until Tue Nov 25
Last chance to see the latest exhibition from the Polish mixed media artist, examining at the world of body builder culture (those initials stand for ‘Sweat / Suffer / Success’).
Bookmark at ECA, Edinburgh College of Art, Thu Nov 27
A celebration of books as used by the staff and students at the Edinburgh College of Art, with zines, comics and artists books to browse and buy.
POP Maskulinity, Gayfield Creative Spaces, Sat Nov 29-Thu Dec 11
Free group show exploring the modern image of masculinity, curated by the Polish Contemporary Art Organisation.
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
Evocative photography exhibition capturing landscapes of WWI execution sites in the modern day.
RSA Open, Royal Scottish Academy, Sat Nov 29-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.
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 festival showcases sonic art in one of the city’s most acoustically-inclined galleries. The season kicks of with Disinformation’s installation ‘The Analysis of Beauty’.
Stan Douglas, Fruitmarket Gallery, until Sun Feb 15
Exhibition of the Canadian artist's film, video and photography works that explore the junction between history and memory.
BP Portrait Award, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Sat Nov 29-Sun Apr 12
Prestigious international portraiture exhibition, showcasing selected entries in addition Thomas Ganter’s winning painting of a homeless German windscreen washer.
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’.
Music & Nightlife
Fuck Art, Let’s Dance, Electric Circus, Tue 25 Nov
Occupying that sweet, indie-disco sweet spot between Foals and Friendly Fires, FALD areundeniably one of the best bands-with-swear-words-in-their-name on the dancefloor right now.
Daedalus, Sneaky Pete’s, Tue Nov 25
LA-based producer Alfred Weisberg-Roberts lifted his stage name from the mythical Greek inventor/craftsman, and he chose well – the moniker suits his brand of largely ambient alt.electronica that would sound at home on the Anticon label (though he’s already established himself on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder).
Electric Six, Liquid Room, Thu Nov 27
Dick Valentine’s party rocking sextet have moved out of the ‘Gay Bar’ and now occupy the ‘Human Zoo’ (their 11th album to date). Hear snatches of it – and the old hits, of course - at the Liquid Room.
Man of Moon, Electric Circus, Thu Nov 27
One of our up-and-coming favourites, this guitar, vocals and drums duo create minimalist, plaintive, atmospheric tracks you’ll be happy you caught in an intimate venue. You know, before superstardom beckons.
Lau-Land, The Queen’s Hall, Thu Nov 27-Sat Nov 29
Trad folk stars Lau curate a series of gigs featuring some of their favourite performers, including Siobhan Wilson, Adam Holmes, Joan As Police Woman, Dick Gaughan, Capercaille and Anaïs Mitchell (not forgetting Lau themselves of course).
Bwani, Liquid Room, Fri Nov 28
Edinburgh’s resident afro-indie-poppers return a little older and a little wiser with some new material in the works – catch a preview of it on Friday.
Neu Reekie, Pilrig St Paul’s Church, Fri Nov 28
The genre-crossing performance night throws an incredible End of Year Bash with a solo set from Honeyblood’s Stina Tweeddale, spoken word from author Kirsty Logan and BMX Bandit Duglas T Stewart, hip hop from Loki with Becci Wallace and a DJ set from the Moon Hop crew (aka Whisky Stephen and Found).
Mike Skinner at Electrikal, Bongo Club, Fri Nov 28
The Streets man contributes a 60-minute set to the Bongo Club’s resident bass-heavy sound system enthusiasts.
Mosca at notsosilent, Sneaky Pete’s, Fri Nov 28
Underground techno night notsosilent welcomes rising house/techno producer (and head of the Not So Much label) Mosca for a three hour set.
Jon Hopkins and Nathan Fake at Kapital, The Caves, Fri Nov 28
A stunner of a live line-up at a stunner of a venue from Edinburgh’s new wave techno and electronica promoters, celebrating their seventh birthday.
John Grant, Usher Hall, Sat Nov 29
Having collaborated to breathtaking effect with the BBC Philharmonic for Radio 6 Music last month, the Czars frontman is touring some of the UK’s most august concert halls (Edinburgh’s Usher Hall included) accompanied by Newcastle’s Royal Northern Sinfonia.
Jackhammer, Wee Red Bar, Sat Nov 29
Techno team Jackhammer finish up their autumn season at the Wee Red Bar with a set from Detroit’s DJ Rolando (R3, Ostgut Ton).
Brussels Philharmonic, Usher Hall, Sun Nov 30
Montenegrin guitarist Miloš Karadaglić (playing Rodrigo’s ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’) and organist Oliver Condy (playing Saint Saens’ ‘Symphony No. 3 in C minor’) join the audience-friendly ensemble for a night at the Usher Hall.
Katherine Ryan, Oran Mor, Sun Nov 30
The Canadian comedian explores female role models in the media, particularly the UK-specific peculiarity that is the glamour model. All while being hilariously funny, of course.
Paddington, from Fri Nov 28
This big screen adventure for the small Peruvian bear with the big hat and the marmalade addiction is 'a cuddly, thoughtful triumph' according to our reviewer, with great performances from Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins and Ben Wishaw, the latter voicing the titular hero.