Arts festival goers set to flock south

Dumfries and Galloway will be brimming with creativity and culture this year, finds Sarah Devine

Pictured are Morna Young (right) with new festival director Dani Rae.  By Colin Hattersley
Pictured are Morna Young (right) with new festival director Dani Rae. By Colin Hattersley

Dumfries and Galloway’s Kirkcudbright, on the Solway coast in south-west Scotland, is a pretty and historic harbour town that has many pastel-hued houses and shop fronts as well as charming architecture, making it a colourful haven for artists.

So much so that during the late 19th century, it became known as The Artists’ Town, and was a source of great inspiration for many potters, jewellers and painters, including the renowned Glasgow Boys, SJ Peploe and EA Hornel and numerous others.

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From 24 May until 2 June, the area will once again attract artists in large numbers, ready to show off some impressive works, this time in the form of the performing arts.

More than 170 creative types will congregate and hold 82 events across 42 venues throughout the region during the 40th annual Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival.

The programme of comedy, theatre, dance and music will include comedian Lucy Porter, who will host a new and thought-provoking stand-up show at Lockerbie Town Hall.

Meanwhile, the play Lost At Sea, a tribute to Scotland’s fishing communities, at Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries, looks like it will be another worthwhile highlight.

Planned to take place at the meeting point of three glens – Craigdarroch, Dalwhat and Castlefairn – Moniaive Folk Festival is also set to return on Friday, 10 May, for a weekend of music, camping, family events and food.

The 18th outing for the festival will see music fans entertained by a storming line up which includes the Glasgow-based Kinnaris Quintet, singer and songwriter Findlay Napier and the foot-stomping European folk band Sheelanagig.

Meanwhile, bookworms should visit Gatehouse of Fleet between Wednesday, 1, and Sunday, 5 May, for the ninth BIG LIT: The Stewarty Book Festival of talks, workshops, exhibitions, poetry and prose.

Its scheduled events will see Booker Prize short-listed author Bernard MacLaverty at The Mill venue in the town on the Saturday.

Whether it is to explore arts, music or for something else, Dumfries and Galloway is a destination which has something for everyone.

The area is packed with scenic golf courses for all skill sets, while the 7Stanes trails at Forest of Ae, Mabie and Dalbeattie offer world-class mountain biking and attract beginners, families and experts from across the UK and further afield.

The Selkirk Arms Hotel in Kirkcudbright, which dates back to 1775 and known to have been visited by Robert Burns, is the ideal base for exploring the picturesque region, having teamed up with a number of nearby businesses.

Packages include stargazing, travel writing, birdwatching, golfing, cycling and cooking with chef Nick Morris at The Station House Cookery School and Café in the town.