Scotland's Festivals: 2021 preview

With Scotland's festivals back on the menu for 2021, we take a look at just some of what's on offer in the next 12 months

Feature by Tallah Brash | 28 Jun 2021

It feels equal parts surreal and emotional compiling a festival guide in 2021, but here we are; vaccines have been created at record speed, test festivals and events have been going on with huge success, high levels of euphoria and, although we're still very much in the ‘we’ll believe it when we see it’ camp, festivals are very much back on the menu and we can’t wait to get stuck in! Ponchos, raincoats and suncream at the ready, without further ado, here’s just some of what's on offer across Scotland in the next 12 months.

King Tut’s Summer Nights

King Tut’s, Glasgow, 4-31 Aug
Like practically every other venue in the UK, the iconic King Tut’s has been closed for an inconceivable amount of time since the pandemic hit, so it’s a beautiful thing to see them reopening for their King Tut’s Summer Nights festival. This year’s line-up is a testament to how diverse and exciting Scotland’s up-and-coming musical landscape is with Nova, Kapil Seshasayee, TAAHLIAH, Swim School, Kitti, HYYTS and Dead Pony all set to play!

Edinburgh International Festival

Various, Edinburgh, 6-29 Aug
The announcement of EIF’s 2021 programme at the start of June made us nearly spit coffee all over our laptops. After almost a year-and-a-half of almost NOTHING going on in the capital, EIF are picking up where they left off with one of their most exciting contemporary line-ups yet featuring Caribou, Floating Points, Tune-Yards, black midi, The Comet is Coming, Kathryn Joseph, Laura Mvula, Anna Meredith and more. Just wow.

Doune the Rabbit Hole

Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire, 12-15 Aug
It’s apparent from a quick glance at the stacked new line-up that the team behind Doune have been working their wee butts off this past year. It’s not often you see Dizzee Rascal, Utah Saints, Sleaford Mods, 10CC, Peggy Seeger, Goat Girl, Nadia Rose, Camera Obscura, Snapped Ankles and Teenage Fanclub on the same bill, but we can’t imagine it any other way at Doune. A delightful mix of vintage, established and up-and-coming bands, there's something to keep even the pickiest of family members happy.

Jupiter Rising

Jupiter Artland, Wilkieston, 27-29 Aug
At West Lothian’s Jupiter Rising festival, local is the name of the game for their 2021 return to the stunning surrounds of Jupiter Artland. Sarra Wild’s OH141 returns to curate the late night stage, while two of Scotland’s much-loved indie labels, Lost Map Records and Night School Records, have helped curate the rest of the programme. The line-up includes Pictish Trail, Apostille, Rachel Aggs (Sacred Paws), Free Love, Alabaster dePlume, Guttersnipe, Callum Easter and the unofficial King of Scotland, Romeo Taylor.

Riverside Festival

Riverside Museum, Glasgow, 3-5 Sep
If all you want to do this summer is dance yourself silly on the banks of the River Clyde, then Glasgow’s Riverside Festival has got you covered. Jamie xx, Disclosure and Amelie Lens head up this seriously impressive return which also includes big hitters like Floating Points, Afrodeutsche, Ellen Alien, Eclair Fifi, Jayda G, Ben UFO and Leon Vynehall. On the Saturday night the party will continue until 3am in the nearby SWG3 complex for Riverside by Night, with sets from Skream, Nightwave, Rebecca Vasmant and more.


Carsphairn Hills, Kirkcudbrightshire, 16-19 Sep
The Knockengorroch World Ceilidh is usually one of the first big weekends of the festival season in Scotland, ushering in the start of the warmer weather in May with their much-loved world music/trad/hip-hop/fusion knees-up. This year, however, Knock takes place smack bang in the middle of September, but we know it’ll be no less of a party, especially after what, by then, will have been a two-and-a-half-year break. This year’s line-up so far is suitably eclectic with Afro Celt Sound System, Mungo’s Hi Fi and Lowkey all playing.

FLY Open Air Festival

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, 17-19 Sep
As well as bringing back the legendary Slam Tent this summer for one weekend only (30 Jul-1 Aug) in an as-yet-undisclosed location, with sets from Slam, Optimo and Denis Sulta, September will see the return of FLY’s Open Air Festival in the heart of the capital. With Edinburgh Castle as its breathtaking backdrop, this year FLY welcome Folamour, FJAAK (live), Big Miz, Eclair Fifi, La La, Or:la and Seren Seo to the city centre party. 

Playground Festival

Rouken Glen Park, Glasgow, 24-26 Sep
While their sophomore year was dashed by the pandemic, Glasgow’s Playground Festival haven’t let it dampen their spirits too much and plan to return to the leafy surrounds of Rouken Glen Park this September with a bang. Their supercharged line-up features everyone from Nile Rodgers and Chic to Orbital, with Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Culture Club, Macy Gray, Optimo, DJ Format and Horse Meat Disco thrown in for good measure.

Terminal V Festival: Halloween

Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, 30-31 Oct
After an enforced hiatus it seems only right that Terminal V would make its grand return at the end of October, especially given how outrageous their past Halloween parties have been! This year’s line-up looks nothing short of epic as The Blessed Madonna, Avalon Emerson, Eris Drew, Derrick Carter, Floorplan, Robin Hood, Sven Väth, Shanti Celeste, Helena Hauff, and Jayda G are all set to play; you just need to figure out what fancy dress to wear and let Terminal V do the rest.

The Great Western; The Great Eastern

Various, Glasgow, 13 Nov; Various, Edinburgh, 27 Nov
After the success of Glasgow’s inaugural Great Western Festival at the end of 2019, we were very much looking forward to its return in 2020, along with its Edinburgh counterpart The Great Eastern, but it sadly wasn’t to be. Well, lads, the wait is finally (crosses everything) over as both multi-venue festivals return this November. Traceyanne & Danny, TAAHLIAH, Smoothboi Ezra and Ruby Gaines are playing in the west, with BEAK>, Free Love, BC Camplight and Hamish Hawk playing in the east. 

Eight more festivals to check out

Edinburgh Summer Sessions
Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, 6-15 Aug

Glasgow Green, Glasgow, 10-12 Sep

Hidden Door
Granton Gasworks, Edinburgh, 15-19 Sep

Stag & Dagger
Glasgow, 13 Nov; Edinburgh, 14 Nov

Eden Festival
Raehills, Nr. Moffat, Dumfries & Galloway, 9-12 Jun 2022

Kelburn Garden Party
Kelburn Castle, nr Largs, 1-4 Jul 2022

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival
Belladrum Estate, nr Inverness, 28-30 Jul 2022

Out East 
Dalkeith House, Midlothian, 6-7 Aug 2022

Managing your expectations

Thanks to COVID things are, simply put, just not going to be the same when festivals return this summer, so it's important to consider the following before you get too excited about heading back to your favourite muddy green fields or dimly lit venues.

1. The festival you've been looking forward to for what feels like a lifetime might get cancelled/postponed at short notice. Chin up! There'll be other festivals.
2. Your favourite band might cancel at the last minute, but they'll be back; go find a new favourite band in the interim – don't let COVID win!
3. You might have a positive COVID test yourself and have to cancel last minute. Shit happens. Stay safe, isolate, make new plans for the future, watch your favourite band's old set from when they last played Glastonbury on YouTube. Don't beat yourself up over it.
4. A lot of insurance policies no longer cover COVID as it's now something we have to live with. A harsh reality, but one that needs highlighted for sure.

Important note: all of the information in this festival guide was correct at the time of writing, but is subject to change