THE outlook may seem bleak for the beginning of 2021 with the twin trials of Covid-19 and Brexit to contend with but not all is gloomy on the Scottish horizon – particularly for independence supporters.

Here we pick out 10 events to look forward to this New Year.

1. BLAST away the January blues by tuning into Celtic Connections, Europe’s largest winter festival.

Although Covid-19 will mean this year is a digital edition that also gives the potential for an even wider audience with online performances every night from Friday, January 15 to Tuesday, February 2.

Some of the biggest names on the Scottish music scene and beyond are lined up to appear including Talisk, Elephant Sessions, Manran, Karine Polwart, Blue Rose Code, Admiral Fallow, Sian, Kinnaris Quintet and Shooglenifty. They will be joined by Argentine/Swedish singer songwriter José González, Alabama-based duo The Secret Sisters and Quebecois Celtic Connections regulars, Le Vent Du Nord.

2. THE Big Burns Supper is also going digital this year, joining forces with Scotland’s much loved comic hero of 2020, Janey Godley, to mark the festival’s 10th anniversary.

Broadcast is free of charge across Big Burns Supper’s Facebook and YouTube channels, the special 75-minute digital broadcast on January 25 will see Godley welcome artists such as KT Tunstall, Dougie Maclean, Donovan, Tide Lines and Skerryvore who have performed at the festival over the last 10 years.

As staying in is the new going out, Godley will host from her own living room as she prepares a Burns Supper while introducing guests and festival friends throughout the evening.

3. THIS year marks the 701st anniversary of the inspirational Declaration of Arbroath.

The coronavirus pandemic meant the 700th anniversary celebrations had to be curtailed but in view of the historical significance of the Declaration it has been announced that a festival will still be held this April. Called Arbroath 2020+1, the reshaped programme is intended to embrace culture, connect communities and shine a light on the town itself.

4. MAY will be crunch time for independence supporters when the Scottish Parliament elections take place.

The SNP are currently on course to win a majority with the latest polls predicting a possible 73 MSPs out of 129 at Holyrood.

At the moment the Tories are predicted to take second place, a long way behind the SNP with a possible 27 seats, while Labour is predicted to take 19. The Scottish Greens and LibDems are predicted to win five each. At the 2016 election, the SNP gained 61 MSPs with the opposition totalling 67 MSPs split between 30 for the Tories, 23 for Labour and five each for the Greens and LibDems.

5. AFTER more than two decades of humiliating failure, the national men’s football team will again play in a major tournament.

Under manager Steve Clarke, the team has qualified for Euro 2020 which was delayed by a year because of the pandemic.

It is scheduled to begin on June 11 when Turkey play Italy in Rome. Three days later Scotland will take to the Hampden turf to beat, fingers crossed, the Czech Republic. Scotland will then head to Wembley on June 18 in what will be a nerve-shredding match against England. The group stage finishes for Scotland on June 22 at Hampden in a tough fixture against World Cup runners-up Croatia.

6. THIS year will see the Great Tapestry of Scotland take up permanent residence in a new purpose-built visitor centre in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, a region known for its textiles heritage.

The brainchild of author Alexander McCall Smith who, along with historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy formed a team to produce it, the tapestry took more than two years to create, with the finished work touring Scotland from September 2013.

The tapestry’s 160 panels stretch to more than 140m (450ft) in length and took more than 65,000 hours and 300 miles of wool to complete.

7. THIS year will also finally bring the re-opening of the world-famous Burrell Collection in Glasgow’s Pollock Park, according to VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead. 

It was due to open last year after a £67.4 million renovation but the date was pushed back to spring 2021 because of the pandemic.

Glasgow Life said this date was now being revised but in a recent speech Roughead said it would re-open this year. Consisting of more than 8000 objects from Europe and Asia, the collection represents five millennia of art and history and includes work by major artists like Rodin, Degas and Cézanne.

8. IN November, the world’s eyes will be on Glasgow when the UK hosts the UN Climate Change Conference for the first time.

COP26 was supposed to be held in November 2020 but was postponed because of the pandemic. A commitment to sustainability was instrumental in the choice of Glasgow as the venue for the estimated 30,000 delegates.

It has set a target for carbon neutrality by 2030, aims to be one of the greenest cities in Europe through its Sustainable Glasgow campaign and is fourth in the world in the Global Destination Sustainability Index.

9. COVID permitting, music lovers are in for a treat this year when festivals once again take place throughout Scotland.

TRNSMT is scheduled to return to Glasgow Green on July 9-11 with headliners Liam Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi, while Doune the Rabbit Hole aims to return on July 15-18 with Belle and Sebastian included in the line-up.

Lionel Ritchie, Tom Jones, Michael Kiwanuka, Travis and Simple Minds are booked for Edinburgh’s Summer Sessions and Summer Nights at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove will include Belinda Carlisle and Rufus Wainwright.

Van Morrison, Nile Rodgers and Chic are among the guests scheduled to appear at Belladrum Tartan Heart on July 29-31.

10. THE above are just a few of the festivals scheduled to reappear this summer.

Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe Festival, the Art Festival and the Book Festival are intending to come back better than ever, as is the Military Tattoo and a whole host of Highland Games all over Scotland as well as Cowal Highland Gathering.

Other festivals planning a comeback include the Beyond Borders International Festival of Literature and Thought in Innerleithen in August.

Also in August the World Pipe Band Championships will be back on Glasgow Green with around 8000 pipers and drummers expected to take part.