Festival of the Arts

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It’s a festival that has hosted some big names since it was founded back in 1972, and now as we look forward to Perth Festival of the Arts returning for its 47th year in 2018, there's yet another fantastic line-up in store. It’s bound to be a special year for the festival with the reopening of Perth Theatre, and the focus of this year’s line-up is diversity with a mixture of musical styles and performances coupled with visual arts and other fantastic shows across ten days.

Big names such as Ruby Wax, the Reverend Richard Coles and Val McDermid will join the legendary Jools Holland, Grimethorpe Colliery Band and stage performers English Touring Opera on the 2018 bill.

Kicking off the festival is arTay 2018 – one of the most popular events of Perth Festival of the Arts. Curated by none other than Hugh Goring of Frames Gallery, the large exhibition of Scottish art features the work of over 80 artists with around 300 pieces on show. Best of all, admission is free! It runs over four days in a specially erected marquee next to Perth Concert Hall and all of the work on display is available for purchase too.

Marriage of Figaro - PFOTAThe leading touring opera company in the UK, English Touring Opera, will be taking to the stage on opening night – Thursday 17th May – with the production of ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ at Perth Concert Hall. Blanche McIntyre returns to Perth to direct this fun and energetic production which promises to warm your heart and treat you to some sublime music along the way. The following evening, English Touring Opera will take to the stage at Perth Theatre for a thrilling concert of highlights from Rossini’s greatest operas.

Perth Festival legend Jools Holland is back again in 2018 and the former Squeeze man will be performing at Perth Concert Hall on Friday 18th May in what is undoubtedly one of the star attractions of the festival line-up. The 60-year-old pianist, bandleader, singer, composer, television presenter and multiplatinum recording artist (yes he is a man of many talents) will perform songs that span his entire musical career, and will be accompanied by the sound of Jools’ unforgettable Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

Jools will also be bringing along a special guest this year – Marc Almond. The Soft Cell band member and ‘Tainted Love’ singer will join Jools in what is sure to be an unforgettable evening.

Also on the bill this year is the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, formed back in 1917, who rose to fame in 1995 with the making of the film Brassed Off starring local-born actor Ewan McGregor. Since then, Grimethorpe Colliery Band has appeared at film festivals, the 1998 World Cup and even the Eurovision Song Contest in front of an estimated television audience of fifty million people! They will add Perth Concert Hall to their illustrious list of venues as they make their first appearance at Perth Festival of the Arts.


Perth Theatre will welcome a woman who needs no introduction on Sunday 20th May – the fabulous Ruby Wax. She will bring her new one-woman show to Perth which is based on her number one best seller, ‘A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled’.

The US-born comedy-actress-writer gives the audience a tour of the mind, and she is a poster girl for mental health as well as being stunning, sassy and smart. The recommended age for this show is 14+ and it’s a unique opportunity to get inside the mind of an extremely successful comedian, writer and television personality.

Ex-Communards man Richard Coles will also be appearing at this year’s festival. The now turned radio presenter and television personality will bring his thought-provoking humour to Perth Theatre on Monday 21st May, and the multi-instrumentalist will no doubt chat to his audience about the highlights of his career, including his appearance in last year’s Strictly Come Dancing and THAT Pasodoble!

One of the final events of Perth Festival of the Arts 2018 sees one of Scotland’s most successful crime-writers be interviewed at Perth Theatre by former Blairgowrie High School pupil, Scottish comedian and radio presenter, Fred MacAulay. Now that the fabulous Perth Theatre is open again we’re able to programme more shows.

Kirkcaldy’s Val McDermid has sold over ten million copies worldwide and has seen her work translated into 30 different languages. She’ll talk about her many career highlights with MacAulay who is renowned for his great sense of humour in what is sure to be a great event on the final day of the festival.

The Perth Festival of the Arts chairman, Peter Rutherford, spoke last month of his delight in the festival returning to one of the city centre’s most iconic venues.

“Now that the fabulous Perth Theatre is open again we’re able to programme more shows – we were last there in 2013. The Festival is also having a redesign this year by local artist Jill Calder, so watch out for that!”

The diverse and exciting 2018 line-up also includes ballet, a children’s concert, and a fantastic array of classical and traditional music performances from the likes of Royal Northern Sinfonia, Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, Emma Johnson and Hannah Fisher.


To view the full Perth Festival of the Arts programme, see our ‘What’s On’ section or visit the Perth Festival website here.

Tickets go on sale on Monday 26th March from 10AM. They will be available to friends of Perth Festival of the Arts one week earlier, 19th March, and becoming a friend only costs £10. Find out more here.



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