A look ahead at the must-see art and culture events of 2018

Grit Orchestra - at Celtic ConnectionsGrit Orchestra - at Celtic Connections
Grit Orchestra - at Celtic Connections

Avengers: Infinity War released (May)

It is almost a year to the day since news leaked out that Marvel Studios had lined up Scotland for it Avengers: Infinity War blockbuster.

By the time the cameras started rolling in the city in March excitement was already at fever pitch over Edinburgh’s starring role in the £400 million superhero movie, which is a likely contender to be one of 2018’s biggest box office hits when it hits cinemas in May.

Music fans react as The Kooks perform on the main stage on the second day the TRNSMT music Festival on Glasgow Green, in Glasgow on July 8, 2017.
 GettyMusic fans react as The Kooks perform on the main stage on the second day the TRNSMT music Festival on Glasgow Green, in Glasgow on July 8, 2017.
Music fans react as The Kooks perform on the main stage on the second day the TRNSMT music Festival on Glasgow Green, in Glasgow on July 8, 2017. Getty
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Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Anthony Mackie (Falcon) and Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) were among the stars to fly into the city to film scenes.

The biggest and most complex production ever to be filmed in the city saw parts of Waverley Station and Cockburn Street transformed for seven weeks of filming.

More than 400 crew members worked on the film shoot in Edinburgh, following three months of pre-production, including the transformation of a vast warehouse in Leith into a temporary studio.

The Film Edinburgh commission has estimated that the filming alone was worth around £10 million for the city, the tourism spin-offs for the city could be off the scale - particularly with two other major productions filmed around Scotland - Mary Queen of Scots and Outlaw King - also due to arrive on screen later this year.

Music fans react as The Kooks perform on the main stage on the second day the TRNSMT music Festival on Glasgow Green, in Glasgow on July 8, 2017.
 GettyMusic fans react as The Kooks perform on the main stage on the second day the TRNSMT music Festival on Glasgow Green, in Glasgow on July 8, 2017.
Music fans react as The Kooks perform on the main stage on the second day the TRNSMT music Festival on Glasgow Green, in Glasgow on July 8, 2017. Getty

Rip It Up at the National Museum of Scotland (from June-November)

Glasgow may have scored significant coups with the securing of exhibitions devoted to Kylie Minogue and AC/DC.

But Edinburgh is about to steal a bit of a march on its arch rival at the other end of the M8 when the story of Scottish pop and rock is told in a major new show at the National Museum of Scotland.

The debates over which acts should be included in the exhibition - which will feature iconic costumes, instruments, props and other memorabilia - were raging almost as soon as the exhibition was announced.

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With Rip It Up spanning the 1950s to the present day, and a host of genres in the mix, there is certainly a lot of ground to cover, but some tantalising names have been confirmed already, including Gerry Rafferty, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Lulu, The Rezillos, Simple Minds, Garbage, Franz Ferdinand and Young Fathers.

BBC Scotland, which is collaborating with the museum on the exhibition, is planning two major series on TV and radio.

To add to the excitement, a series of special live events will be held in Edinburgh to coincide with the exhibition. As its run coincides with the Edinburgh festivals season, the possibilities are mouthwatering to say the least.

Runrig to bow out (August)

The retirement of the Gaelic rock band Runrig from live performance was not a complete surprise to fans, after they had previously announced that the 14th album, released at the beginning of 2016, would bring the curtain down on their recording career.

However the announcement of a series of “farewell shows”, culminating in a huge outdoor show in Stirling’s City Park triggered an outpouring of emotion from the band’s global fanbase - and sparked an almighty scramble for tickets.

Such was the demand for the 25,000 capacity final gig on 18 August that the band swiftly added another show the previous evening, which also instantly sold out.

The shows are expected to see a mass exodus of fans of the band, formed on Skye in 1973, from the Highlands and Islands, as well as an influx of followers from some of Runrig’s biggest overseas fan-bases, including Denmark and Germany, although each will have their own farewells next summer.

V&A Dundee opens (date TBC)

It has already been more than 10 years in the planning and has become one of Scotland’s most instantly recognisable landmarks before it has even opened its doors.

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Now the wait is almost for Dundee with the finishing touches being put to its V&A Museum of Design ahead of a planned opening in the second half of 2018.

The arrival of the new museum has already seen Dundee cited as one of the world’s hottest destinations by the Wall Street Journal and described as GQ magazine as being on its way to becoming “Britain’s coolest city.”

Many of the plaudits for the new museum have been down to its own cutting-edge design by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who has also designed the Olympic Stadium for Tokyo in 2020.

While details of big visiting exhibitions are still firmly under wraps, its permanent displays will include a 500-year-old book of prayers and religious manuscripts, a Jacobite garter, a Dennis the Menace artwork and a dress created by fashion designer Holly Fulton will among more than 300 items celebrating more than 500 years of Scottish design heritage.

The groundbreaking designs of the Forth Bridge, the city’s Maggie’s cancer care centre, the birthplace of the “welly boot,” and Pop Art pioneer Eduardo Paolozzi will also be celebrated in the £80 million complex.

25th Celtic Connections (January and February)

The organisers of Glasgow’s ever-expanding winter festival have clearly had great fun dipping into the archives to find the sceptical response to the original announcement of an event to be staged during the depths of winter at the Royal Concert Hall in 1994.

Some of those comments are being used to help market Celtic Connections a quarter of a century on from its debut, which brought more than 27,000 through the doors.

Although still firmly based at the RCH, it has long since spread its wings out, with the likes of the Drygate Brewery, Saint Luke’s, SWG3, the Glad Cafe, the Mackintosh Church, Oran Mor and The Hug and Pint, and the Barrowlands now drawing audiences across the city.

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The festival line-up has a decidedly retro feel with bands like Blazin’ Fiddles, The Levellers, Big Country and The Tannahill Weavers staging special anniversary shows and former Celtic Connections favourites The Humpff Family and Croft No Five reforming.

But Celtic Connections will stage its most ambitious concert yet staged at the vast Hydro arena, when Greg Lawson’s Grit Orchestra will reunite to perform the late Martyn Bennett’s Bothy Culture album, accompanies by appearances by aerial dance company All or Nothing and stunt cyclist, who will recreating stunts from his famous Skye-set film The Ridge, which featured Bennett’s music.

TRSNMT (June and July)

This time last year many fans of T in the Park were still coming to terms with the news that the much-loved event was to take “a year out.”

Filling its traditional slot in the calendar was a brand new event, staged by the same promoters, DF Concerts, over three days on Glasgow Green.

By the time the new TRNSMT event rolled around in July, it was clear T in the Park had an even more uncertain future, especially when tickets went on sale for the second TRNSMT almost immediately thereafter.

The big surprise for 2018 is that TRNSMT will now be staged over five days across two weekends. Announcements have been coming thick and fast, with Liam Gallagher, The Killers and Stereophonics already confirmed as headliners, and Wolf Alice, Franz Ferdinand, The Script and Jessie J all confirmed so far.

As for T in the Park, the prospects of a return for the event look increasingly unlikely, with DF Concerts chief executive Geoff Ellis admitting towards the end of the year that if and when DF Concerts do return with a camping festival it would be “very different” to the long-running event and his company would “refresh everything.” The earliest prospect for the appearance of another new event now looks like 2019.

MURIEL SPARK 100 (all year)

Not since the 250th birthday of Robert Burns has Scotland celebrated one of its writers on the scale planned for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dame Muriel Spark in 2018.

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The year-long programme of events got a head start towards the end of 2017 with the opening of a major exhibition at the National Library of Scotland and the publication of a new memoir of Spark by Alan Taylor, a former deputy editor of The Scotsman.

Publishers Polygon have already started to reprint all 22 of Spark’s novels, with Ali Smith, William Boyd, Alexander McCall Smith, Candia McWilliam, James Wood, Andrew O’Hagan, Joseph Kanon, Zoë Strachan, Allan Massie, Kapka Kassabova, Dan Gunn, Ian Rankin and Richard Holloway among the writers penning special introductions.

The biggest public celebration is expected at the Usher Hall this month when the Edinburgh International Book Festival stages a special anniversary event featuring the first stage adaptation of Spark’s only play, Doctors of Philosophy, since 1963.

This month will also see the launch of a new BBC Radio 3 series which will see Ali Smith, Val McDermid, Janice Galloway, Kate Clanchy and Louise Welsh discussing Spark’s career and legacy, while a BBC TV documentary will be broadcast early in the new year.

Other events include a centenary symposium at Glasgow University, a celebration of Spark’s work for the British intelligence service during Edinburgh Spy Week and an exhibition jointly staged by Glasgow Women’s Library and Glasgow School of Art.

Jackie Wylie’s debut season with NTS (all year)

A new era on stage is finally start to unfold for National Theatre of Scotland after the rather abrupt departure of Laurie Sansom as artistic director in the spring of 2016.

It took six months to announce an appointment and his successor, Jackie Wylie, did not get going in the role until the following spring.

Wylie kept her powder largely dry until a big season launch in November, which included new revivals of Edwin Morgan’s Cyrano de Bergerac and David Greig’s Midsummer, the concluding part of NTS’s trilogy of plays about First World War deserters shot for cowardice, The 306 Dusk, and a new musical partly inspired by the Oscar-winning film My Left Foot look to be obvious highlights.

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But the big project of the year is undoubtedly Futureproof, NTS’s major contribution to Scotland’s Year of Young People.

It will see 10 brand new productions created by groups of young people in collaboration with leading UK and international companies and artists. Echoing NTS’s famous launch event Home, shows will be staged in Shetland, Dundee, Ayrshire, Moray, the Highlands, Fife, Aberdeen, Paisley, Edinburgh and Polmont Young Offenders Institute, in Falkirk.