Wigtown Book Festival, a 10-day celebration of stories and literature, starts this Friday with more than 200 events for every age and interest.
They include 45 pay what you can and 30 streamed events, plus many that are free. The nine young adult events are free to anyone under 26.
Then there’s Big Wig, a programme of nearly 40 readings, performances and poetry activities for children. And children will also be able to get a selfie with Big Wig, the gentle blue children’s mascot, as he wanders round town and enjoys his favourite stories.
The festival kicks off with Local Legends which will see novelist Karen Campbell and poet Hugh McMillan premier two traditional Galloway tales they have reimagined for today.
Specially commissioned by Wigtown Book Festival to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories one piece explores how an ancient family tragedy at Cardoness might echo through the years and the other looks at what would happen if a supernatural being descended on the village of Bladnoch.
One of Scotland’s best-loved actors, writers and singers Gerda Stevenson, will also be there – presenting a special reading of William Nicholson’s classic, the Brownie of Blednoch.
Adrian Turpin, Wigtown Book Festival’s Artistic Director, said: “There’s a huge amount to look forward to this year, with guests ranging from Lisa Jewell and Robert Harris to Graham McTavish and Hannah Jackson
“And it’s great to have the support of nationally-celebrated talents from the region like Gerda, Hugh and Karen, to get the festival underway.
“We are also putting a big emphasis on nurturing a love of literature and stories among young people with the Big Wig and the YA programmes.
“In the wake of the pandemic and with the cost of living crisis we recognise that many people are facing tough times. Our hope is that providing free activities and introducing pay what you can events, that the festival is affordable as well as fun for everyone.”
The Wigtown Book Festival is not just about catering for people who already love reading – much of its role is to encourage a love of stories and storytelling, especially among the young.
One of the people who contributes most towards this is storyteller is residence Renita Boyle who will be running Big Wig’s Rhyme Time for children, Book at Bedtime for adults, and Words for the Birds (a literary walk at the Crook of Baldoon Nature Reserve) that’s for everyone.
A storyteller for half a century, Renita believes it’s something that matters deeply.
She said: “I am immensely proud to be WBF’s resident storyteller. It is a role that has developed over many years and demonstrates the commitment we have to our oldest artform.
“Storytelling is innate, primal and communal. It connects us to ourselves, each other; to our ancestors and to our shared experiences.
“Stories help us to laugh and cry; express joy and give voice to grief. They bring healing and clarity, understanding and decisiveness. They can influence as well as entertain; turn wisecracks into wisdom, help us discern how to love, live and forgive.
“But more than anything – storytelling is essential to being human.”
What to enjoy at Wigtown Book Festival 2022
Five Big Wig favourites
- Big Wig’s Family Rhyme Time – Big Wig wakes up from his hibernation and joins resident storyteller Renita Boyle to kick off this year’s Big Wig programme. Sat 24 Sep, 10:30am.
- Lauren Child – The former Waterstones Children’s Laureate discusses her beloved Clarice Bean series. Sat 24 Sep, 10:30am.
- Jonathan Meres, Scaredy Bat – A translation event in both English and Polish. Sun 25 Sep, 12:00pm.
- Two in a Barrel – A clown inspired, physical theatre show for the whole family. Suitable for a neurodiverse audience. Sun 25 Sep, 3pm.
- Eve Wersocki Morris, The Bird Singers – Mystery, myth and suspense fill the pages of Eve Wersocki Morris’s debut The Bird Singers (Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week). Sat 1 Oct, 1.30pm.
Meet guests including
- Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross (Walking Back Home)
- Karen Campbell (Paper Cup)
- Robert Harris (Act of Oblivion)
- Hannah Jackson, The Red Shepherdess (Call Me Red)
- Chris Brookmyre (The Cliff House)
- Gerda Stevenson (Letting Go)
- Outlander star Graham McTavish (Clanlands)
- Lisa Jewell & Will Brooker (The Truth About Lisa Jewell)
- Andrew Cotter: Dog Days (A Year with Olive and Mabel)
- Chitra Ramaswamy (Homelands)
- Jeremy Bowen (The Making of the Modern Middle East).
Books are just the beginning – other things to enjoy include:
- The best regional food and crafts at our daily producers’ market, The Kist
- Free entertainment and big screen fun at our outdoor venue, The Gardens
- The Wigtown Poetry Prize awards
- Opening night fireworks and pipe band
- The incredible Scottish Fiddle Orchestra
- Shows at The Swallow, Scotland’s smallest and cosiest theatre
- The story of Lowland whisky at Bladnoch Distillery
- Into The Nicht literary after-dark walks
- Bookshop Untold – enter the enchanted bookshop for a theatre production revealing the untold stories of a great Scottish author
- The Deception Island art installation – a recreation of a 1950s science research hut from the Antarctic
- Love the Sinner – performance poetry from Imogen Stirling
- Dancing the night away at the festival ceilidh.
Tickets and full programme www.wigtownbookfestival.com.