31 great things to do in Edinburgh in October

Retro jazz meets pop in the shape of Caro Emerald on October 13
Retro jazz meets pop in the shape of Caro Emerald on October 13
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There’s plenty to look forward to in Edinburgh this month, from stage adaptations of blockbuster movies to showbusiness stories from Joanna Lumley and the pagan celebration of Samhuinn. Here are 31 suggestions to make your October fly by like a witch on a broomstick.

RAIN MAN

Madagascar makes the transition from screen to stage

Madagascar makes the transition from screen to stage

When selfish salesman Charlie Babbitt discovers that long-lost brother Raymond, an autistic savant with a genius for numbers, has inherited the family fortune, he sets out to get ‘his half’. Yes, it’s the Tom Cruise/Dustin Hoffman hit film adapted for the stage, starring Matthew Horne of Gavin & Stacey fame, and Downton Abbey’s Ed Speleers. How will it fare away from Hollywood? Find out as it arrives at the King’s Theatre, 7.30pm, £18-£31.50.

October 2

MADAGASCAR – A MUSICAL ADVENTURE

Another Hollywood film takes the stage and this may be a tad trickier to mount than Rain Man, given the original starred dozens of animated animals. The answer, as anyone who’s seen The Lion King on stage has guessed, is puppets. And probably very tall hats. And people in costumes – 2016 X Factor winner Matt Terry stars as Alex The Lion. Enjoy the fun at The Playhouse, 7.30pm, £16.90-£45.40.

Welcome in Winter at the Samhuinn Fire Festival

Welcome in Winter at the Samhuinn Fire Festival

October 3

FROM BELIZE TO SCOTLAND – THE TREE FELLERS STORY

Pop along to the City Arts Centre to hear the fascinating story of the 900 Belizean lumberjacks who in 1942 left the tropical rainforests of British Honduras to help Britain fight fascism by chopping down trees in Scotland. This Black History Month event is free, but you’re advised to book.

October 4

It's all about Joanna Lumley at the EICC on October 12

It's all about Joanna Lumley at the EICC on October 12

EDINBURGH MAGIC SHOW

It vanished for four weeks but, right on schedule, the evening of illusionary entertainment is back. Have your mind boggled at Lulu, George Street, 7.15pm.

October 5

CALENDAR GIRLS – THE MUSICAL

And here’s yet another piece of theatre that began on the big screen. Mind, there is fresh fun to be had watching the ladies of the WI hiding their middle-aged magnificence behind pots, pans and plants on the Festival Theatre stage… and plenty of laughs before that in Tim Firth’s script. What’s more, there are original songs by one Gary Barlow. Fern Britton, Anna-Jane Casey, Sara Crowe, Ruth Madoc, Rebecca Storm, Denise Welch and Scotland’s own Karen Dunbar star. 7.30pm, £20-£45.

October 6

EDINBURGH COFFEE FESTIVAL

Now in its fourth year, the celebration of caffeine returns to Edinburgh Corn Exchange. Try some new flavours while blending in with other coffee connoisseurs. It’s at Edinburgh Corn Exchange all-day long, tickets from £8.50 and children go free – but they’d likely prefer a nice sugary can of juice.

October 7

SOUL UNLIMITED

Stand up, stand up, strut your funky stuff all night with Heatwave, Odyssey, Jaki Graham and Gwen Dickey, aka the voice of Rose Royce. The soulful Seventies time travel trip is at The Playhouse, 7.30pm, £26.40-£56.90.

October 8

REBUS: LONG SHADOWS

It’s Coronation Street’s Jim McDonald, so it is, but actor Charles Lawson is swapping his rich Irish brogue for the more Scottish vowels of Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh detective in this play adapted by Rona Munro from Ian Rankin’s story. When the daughter of a murder victim appears outside his flat, the retired Rebus is back on the case and off the wagon. Cathy Tyson co-stars in the mystery, which plays at the King’s Theatre at 7.30pm, £18-£31.50.

October 9

ARCTIC OIL

Now here’s a timely tale, given the recent discovery of a new oil field off Shetland. Written by the award-winning Clare Duffy, Arctic Oil gets under the skin of what climate change could make us do to the people we love via a conflicted mother and daughter, Jennifer Black and Neshla Caplan. It’s typically thought-provoking stuff at the Traverse, 7.30pm, £17.

October 10

DANE BAPTISTE – G.O.D.

The acronym stands for gold, oil and drugs, as Dane Baptiste explores our worldwide pursuit of wealth, power and pleasure. Catch the TV favourite at The Stand, 8.30pm, £12.

October 11

LET IT BE

Come Together and experience the iconic music of The Beatles with Let It Be, the spectacular new concert jam-packed with more than 40 of The Beatles’ greatest hits. And if you think you’ve seen this show previously, take another look, it’s been “updated” with an imaginary reunion gig that never was. The Playhouse, 7.30pm, tickets £17.50-£47.50.

October 12

JOANNA LUMLEY – IT’S ALL ABOUT ME

Whether you first met Joanna Lumley as Ken barlow’s girlfriend, New Avengers heroine Purdey, sci-fi sweetheart Sapphire or Sixties survivor Patsy in Ab Fab, it’s likely you have a soft spot for the actress and national treasure. In her first ever solo show the audience gets to ask her whatever they wish, and she’ll be sharing some, hopefully, indiscrete anecdotes from the business of show. She’ll be at the EICC, 7.30pm, tickets from £33.05.

October 13

CARO EMERALD

The Dutch chanteuse (yes, we know that’s French, just go with it) brings her sweetly soaring sounds to the Usher Hall, 7pm, tickets from £29. It’s retro jazz meets pop as you like it.

October 14

AN EVENING WITH NIGELLA LAWSON

Nigella Lawson established herself as a household name in 1998 with the publication of her groundbreaking debut cookbook, How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food. Twenty years on she’s at the Queen’s Hall to celebrate a life lived well with a Q&Q session. Tasty! 7.30pm, £30.

October 15

RED RAW

There’s nothing like being able to say you saw some comedy great back when they were nobody… and if you get to The Stand’s weekly showcase of new talent, you’re halfway there. OK, you may have to wait several years before you can cash in your time investment, but heck, it’s only £3 for the 8.30pm show… Tonight’s headliner is MC Hammersmith.

October 16

MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake returns with a fresh look for the 21st century. Retaining the iconic elements of the original production – bare-chested chaps swanning around in tutus – loved by millions around the world, Matthew Bourne and award-winning designers Lez Brotherston (set & costumes) and Paule Constable (lighting) have reimagined the classic production. Expect a bit of Tchaikovsky in there too. Dance down to the Festival Theatre for 7.30pm, £19-£48.50.

October 17

THE MACBETHS

This new adaptation of (ssshh) The Scottish Play focuses on the relationship between one of the most famous killers in literature and his wife! The Macbeths sounds like a weird sitcom, a sequel to Upstart Crow, but it’s dark stuff as a stripped-on version of Shakespeare’s text illuminates the relationship at the heart of the story. Lucianne McEvoy and Charlene Boyd – yes, two women – star at the Traverse, 8pm, £17.

October 18

TOM ODELL

The pop prince plays his latest material, including new single If You Wanna Love Somebody, and some (relatively) old favourites at the Usher Hall, 7pm, tickets from £29.

October 19

SEANCE AT EDINBURGH DUNGEON

As Hallowe’en (we insist on the apostrophes!) approaches, what better way to spend your time than raising the spirits of the restless dead? Just about anything, as anyone who’s ever seen a horror film involving a Weegie – sorry, Ouija – board will attest. Still, if you want to risk a ghost attaching itself to you for ever more, sending you insane and driving your family and pet dog to destruction, have fun! 10am-6pm, price £14.95 – and maybe your immortal soul…

October 20

THE ROBERT CRAY BAND

Five-time Grammy winner Robert Cray has written or performed with everyone from Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to John Lee Hooker, becoming one of the most popular artists in blues and soul music in his own right, and helping steer and shape its course along the way. See him at the Usher Hall, 7pm, tickets from £32.45.

October 21

JACK WHITE

Where normally you might expect the Usher Hall website to have words of enticement concerning this gig by the former White Stripes star, there are but 157 words warning punters not to bring their phones. We do know he’s plugging new album Boarding House, which is nice. 7pm, tickets from £40, includes phone charger… KIDDING!

October 22

ROSE & ROSIE – OVERSHARE TOUR

‘Fun-loving and hilariously offbeat internet stars’ Rose Ellen Dix and Rosie Spaughton hit the Assembly Rooms as part of their Overshare Tour. The young married couple will be screening their new documentary on love, friendship, fame, sexuality, mental health and LGBT issues and answering questions. Bet THEY allow mobile phones… 6.30pm, £31.

October 23

FAME – THE MUSICAL

Edinburgh’s own Keith Jack gets to show off his Noo Yoik accent as he attends the High School For the Performing Arts in this latest revival of the stage musical based on Alan Parker’s classic film. Pop star Mica Paris and Hollyoaks alumnus Jorgie Porter co-star. Expect laughter, tears, song, dance and joyous schmaltz at the King’s Theatre, 7.30pm, tickets from £18.50.

October 24

THE UNRETURNING

This compelling new play by Anna Jordan makes its Scottish debut at the Traverse Theatre. In a British seaside town three young men are coming home from war. Their stories, set at different times over the last 100 years, are interwoven. 7.30pm, tickets from £17.

October 25

FIRST LOOK READINGS

In this celebration of brand new writing, three Traverse-commissioned plays are presented in front of an audience for the very first time, by actors reading scripts. It’s theatre in the raw, can you afford to miss it? Best of all, each performance will be followed by a discussion, giving audiences the opportunity to ask questions, feed back and be part of the plays’ development process.7pm, £7

October 26

FIRST AID KIT

The Swedish family folk duo bring Rebel Heart tour to the Usher Hall, with support from fellow sister act The Staves – there are three of them – at 7pm, £31.35.

October 27

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

While paying homage to the 1977 John Travolta classic, this all-new stay-stay-stay-stay stage version promises more drama, more music and is bound to have you dancing in the aisles. 2.30pm/7.30pm, tickets from £26.90.

October 28

ROCKY HORROR NIGHT

It’s Hallowe’en weekend, with ghost tours, spooky walks, club nights… you won’t be wanting for spooky spectaculars. If your particular yen is for sweet transvestites from transsexual Transylvania, get along to The Banshee Labyrinth for 11.15pm. It’s free, and outrageous dress is, obviously, encouraged. So let’s do the Time Warp again.

October 28

HOWL-O-WEEN

It’s a fancy dress contest for pooches at the Golf Tavern. There’ll also be plenty of other doggy themed fun & games, with all donations going directly to Edinburgh Samoyed Rescue, who rehome dogs all over the UK. 11am, free.

October 29

CHILDREN’S CLASSIC CONCERT – BROOMSTICK RIDE

Join the RSNO for a hair-raising flying adventure this Hallowe’en. Hotshot Harrys and Hermiones are invited to grab their broomsticks and soar to new heights, meeting witches, wizards and valkyries along the way! The highlight of the Usher Hall show will be a special performance of We Can Fly written by Oliver Cox, performed by young pupils with additional support needs across Glasgow and Edinburgh. 3pm, family tickets from £35, but there’s a wide range of deals and discounts.

October 30

BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA

Like a bat out of hell, Drac’s back . . . but this is Bram Stoker’s vampire villain as you’ve never seen him previously, as a ‘Bram-new’ adaptation makes its world premiere at the King’s Theatre. Described as a ‘multi-sensory stage adaptation brought to irresistible life in a contemporary, visceral interpretation’, and starring Philip Bretherton and Cheryl Campbell, it’s over-16s only. 7.30pm, tickets from £18.

October 31

SAMHUINN FIRE FESTIVAL

It doesn’t feel like five minutes since the nuttiness of Beltane took over Calton Hill, but that was two whole seasons ago. The Queen of the May is long gone – she’s dead, Jim – so welcome Winter with hundreds of otherworldly creatures battling it out all over the hill, just as happened in Celtic times. Allegedly. 7pm-11pm, £6 in advance, £9 on the day.