Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen offer an entertainment scene comparable with that of any other European city of their size. Big international bands and solo acts play at venues like the Hydro in Glasgow, while pubs and clubs host performances by local and UK bands.

More distinctively Scottish are the traditional-music sessions that enliven many a pub evening, and the regional theatres in small towns such as St Andrews and Pitlochry.

Traditional Music

Scotland's long tradition of folk music persists in live performances in pubs all over the country, often on an informal basis – just a couple of locals with a guitar, a penny whistle and maybe a bodhrann (a traditional Gaelic handheld drum). In rural areas, gigs are usually advertised on a card in the pub window (or just ask at your accommodation); you can also find information in listings magazines like The List (www.list.co.uk) or websites such as www.gigguide.co.uk.

Theatre

Scottish cities have plenty to offer in the way of theatrical entertainment, from mainstream shows to new writing and experimental theatre showcased by places like Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre and Glasgow's Citizens' Theatre.

But don't ignore the 'provinces' – some of Scotland's most memorable theatrical experiences are to be enjoyed at small regional theatres such as Eden Court in Inverness, the Byre in St Andrews, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, and the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen.

Classical Music

Edinburgh is home to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO; www.sco.org.uk), one of Europe's finest and well worth hearing. Their performances are usually held at the Queen's Hall or the Usher Hall.

Scottish Opera (www.scottishopera.org.uk) and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO; www.rsno.org.uk) are based in Glasgow but regularly perform in Edinburgh, at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre and Usher Hall, respectively.