Puppetry, Street Theatre, Draw-alongs and a Playbus all Feature at Big DoG

The annual Big DoG festival of children’s literature in Dumfries is going to be better than ever – thanks to regional and national supporters determined to put more fun into young lives.

And there are also some great opportunities for the public to be at the heart of the event by joining its team of volunteers.

Big DoG, which runs at venues across the town from 22 to 24 March, will bring authors, illustrators and storytellers from all across the UK to take part.

But there will be a host of other events ranging from street theatre and puppetry to writing workshops, visual arts activities.

The Smart Play Network, which supports play services across Scotland, is even bringing along Benji the PlayTalkRead double decker play bus.

And this year the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival is playing an especially big part.

In partnership with Wigtown Festival Company, they are bringing the fabulous Clydebuilt Puppet Theatre who will be putting on the Dinosaur Detectives, a show featuring projections and shadow theatre, that tells the tale of the first fossil hunters.

Together, they are also presenting The Refs. Referees Tank and Bogie will be out on the High Street in search of champions – it’s a family-friendly walkabout show that turns everything into one big game.

The Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival team are also running a Sound and Vision Workshop where you can make your own mini movie by painting directly onto 16mm film and creating a soundtrack.

Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival CEO, Simon Hart, said: “We are pleased to work with the Big DoG team again this year, it’s a great way for us to engage with young audiences in Dumfries, bringing high quality puppetry and street theatre performances to the festival, as well as a fun animation workshop to the town.”

The annual Big DoG festival, which is produced and delivered by Wigtown Festival Company, was named in honour of Nana, the big dog who cared for the Darling children in the ever-popular tale of Peter Pan.

And another of the big contributors to the event is Moat Brae, the Dumfries house where Peter Pan began, which hosts and organises lots of activities.

These include a New Writers’ Clinic for aspiring authors with Mairi Kidd and a Drop-in Draw-along with illustrator Tom Morgan-Jones who wants your help creating the biggest drawing in Dumfries.

Other contributors to Big DoG include Pamis, who will be running one-to-one sensory storytelling for those with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

Then there’s The Midsteeple Quarter, which is breathing new life into the town centre, and local charity The People’s Project who are a regular backer.

Kathryn Hill Community Engagement Activator for Midsteeple Quarter said: “We are delighted to be working with the Big DoG team again and look forward to welcoming young book fans to Dumfries High Street. It’s a fantastic event.”
Speaking on behalf of the People’s Project Mark Jardine MBE added: We are delighted to once again sponsor the Big DoG children’s book festival – we should never overlook the importance of reading a book in a child’s life.”
Anna Fergusson, Estate Director at Buccleuch Group’s Queensberry Estate and Drumlanrig Castle said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to sponsor The Great Highland Games Chase and Knight Sir Louis and the Sinister Snowball events at this year’s Big DoG Children’s book festival.
“Big DoG is a standout fixture in the Dumfries and Galloway events diary and nurturing a love of literature in our younger generations will help bring joy and fulfilment for years to come.”

And for members of the public who want to be part of Big DoG (and also at Wigtown Book Festival later in the year) there are some great opportunities to be part of the team.

Volunteers carry out roles like:

  • Driving guests to and from airports and stations.
  • Venue hosting – taking responsibility for a venue for half a day or a full day at a time, ensuring everything runs smoothly.
  • Stewarding – welcoming audiences, scanning tickets, directing people to their seats, operating the roving mic for audience questions, helping reset the venue.
  • Box Office – selling tickets.
  • Book sales – selling books at the end of events and in our Festival Bookshop.
  • Programme distribution – sharing programmes around their own towns/villages.

In return they get benefits including free entry for the volunteer and children or grandchildren for Big DoG events plus a £25 voucher for events at Wigtown Book Festival.

Andy Stewart, Big DoG’s Producer, said: “Big DoG is going to be great this year – and so much of that is thanks to the partners, sponsors and volunteers who work together to put more fun into the lives of our children right now and help them develop a love of books and storytelling that will last a lifetime.”
  • See wigtownbookfestival.com for tickets and details.
  • Contact Andy Stewart ([email protected]) to volunteer for Big DoG
  • Or Janis Edgar ([email protected]) to volunteer for Wigtown Book Festival.
  • Big DoG is devised and produced by Wigtown Festival Company and delivered in partnership with Moat Brae, DG Arts Festival, PlayTalkRead and PAMIS.