It’ll be wagtastick – the Big DoG festival of children’s literature and storytelling bounds back to Dumfries for loads of fun with events all around the town and online.
Organised by Wigtown Festival Company (WFC), in partnership with the Moat Brae National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling, most of festival will be in person after two years of being a digital only event.
Taking place from 1-3 April the highlights will include three very special sessions with Aardman Animations senior model-maker Jim Parkyn who will teach you how to make some of the animation company’s favourite characters – Morph, Gromit and Shaun the Sheep. Moat Brae will also have free showings of some of Aardman’s best loved movies.
Big DoG will also see Mostly Ghostly launch Croc in the Frock, a riverside tour inspired by the crocodile in Peter Pan and packed with folklore, history and tales of ghosts and adventure.
Poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah makes a digital appearance (which you can catch for free at the Robert Burns Film Theatre) to discuss his novel Windrush Child (2021 Diverse Book Award winner) and his new picture book, We Sang Across the Sea. Both reflect on the experiences of the Windrush generation who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean from 1948.
There will be free street theatre at the Midsteeple Plainstanes, with The Good The Bad and The Poultry about the most “impeckable” gunslinger this side of Texas.
And at the very heart of the festival will be lots of activities with children’s authors, illustrators and storytellers (several designed to be accessible to children and young people with additional needs). Among the guests are author Vivian French, illustrator Nick Sharratt and storyteller Renita Boyle. The events take place at libraries, Dumfries Museum and at The Theatre Royal.
Andy Stewart, WFC Children and Young People’s Producer, said: “Big DoG is bounding back in style, with all sorts of in-person and digital events, many of them free, taking place at Moat Brae and all over Dumfries.
“We want to share the joy of books and stories, so we have everything from readings to movies, street theatre and so much more.
“And this year it’s great to be teaming up with Aardman for the chance to meet one of the country’s top animators so people can learn to make their own Morph, Gromit or Shaun the Sheep. We’re really looking forward to welcoming people along to enjoy the fun.”
Big DoG is named in honour of Nana, the big dog who looks after the Darling children in Peter Pan).
Dr Simon Davidson, Centre Director of Moat Brae, said: “This is yet another stellar line-up for the Big DoG festival and we’re really looking forward to welcoming these authors to Moat Brae. Dumfries is now Scotland’s ultimate destination for children’s stories and Big DoG has played a huge part in bringing this about.”
Big DoG events include
A Best Friend for Bear with Petr Horácek at The Theatre Royal: Black Bear is feeling lonely, so he decides to look for a friend. Luckily, he meets Brown Bear, who is in the same situation.
How Billy Hippo Learned His Colours with Vivian French at Lochthorn Library: Help Billy Hippo learn his colours as he searches for a very special present for his dad’s birthday. Sing a song with Seadog Steve as he helps to solve Captain Crankie’s big problem.
Magic at the Museum: Join storyteller Mara Menzies for a new show specially commissioned for Big DoG. She reveals the mysteries behind some of the secret exhibits normally hidden away in the bowels of Dumfries Museum.
Tuck-in-Tales with Renita Boyle: Why is Grandfather Bear so grumpy? Who does Hare see under the moon? How does Busy Beaver build? What mischief is Raccoon up to? Join Renita for warm woodland tales and tunes in and out of the dusky bluebells.
The Kippford Mermaid: A drowning sailor is rescued by a beautiful mermaid. Authors and illustrators bring the story to life with multi-sensory stimuli which are sure to engage and entertain. An accessible event for those with a wide range of needs.
One Button Benny and the Gigantic Catastrophe (in Arabic and English) with Alan Windram and Saffanna Al-jbawi: One Button Benny is back with a new adventure. All the robots can’t wait for this year’s Cool Cat competition, but disaster strikes when aliens kidnap all the cats.
Super Silly Museums with Nick Sharratt at Dumfries Museum: Nick leads us on a tour of seven of the silliest museums ever. There’s the Blueseum, the Shoeseum, the Confuseum… even the Pooseum! He’ll guide you around the craziest collections of the oddest objects, with jokes and puns galore. Expect fun drawing activities, too, with paper and pens provided.