The hot ticket for this month’s Langholm Chilli Festival is a selection of ‘space’ chillies carried by the World’s first Highland Coosmonaut on his mission to the stars, VisitScotland can reveal this World Space Week.
BuzzBò, who soared 36km into ‘near space’ to celebrate Scotland’s connection to the first Moonwalk, secretly carried with him a package of chilli seeds specially selected by the Langholm Chilli Club in Dumfries and Galloway.
The seeds were planted by members of the club this year and their astronomical harvest will be on display at the festival taking place in Langholm on 23 October 2021.
Celebrity chef, Tony Singh, who will be cooking at the event, met up with BuzzBò at his Indian street food eatery, Radge Chaat, in Edinburgh where he got his hands on some of the space-age spicy peppers.
World Space Week (4-10 October) is a United Nations-led international celebration of science and technology, and their contribution to the betterment of the human condition.
Langholm was declared the “Chilli Capital of Scotland” in 2018 by the Langholm Chilli Club, a group of chilli enthusiasts, which has steadily grown to see around 350 households growing chilli plants in the town.
In July 2019, VisitScotland teamed up with Sent Into Space to send a cuddly toy Highland cow, BuzzBò, named by Dunblane schoolboy Peter Lunan, into near space. The intrepid Coosmonaut lifted off by weather balloon from Gilnockie Tower in Langholm, the ancestral home of Clan Armstrong, wearing an Armstrong tartan spacesuit, before landing safely near Cranshaws in the Scottish Borders.
It was part of the Scotland is Out of this World campaign, marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, which saw US astronaut Neil Armstrong make history by walking on the lunar surface, as well as the 50th anniversary of national tourism organisation, VisitScotland.
Ohio-born Neil Armstrong was said to be proud of his Scottish heritage and in 1972, three years after setting foot on the Moon, the NASA astronaut visited Langholm for a special ceremony where he became its first and only Freeman.
Scotland has many links to space exploration highlighted in the Scotland is Out of this World Trail created by VisitScotland as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. Last month, North Ronaldsay in Orkney was recognised as a Dark Sky Island and an International Dark Sky Community by the International Dark-Sky Association.
Scotland was already home to two International Dark Sky Parks, Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries and Galloway, and Tomintoul and Glenlivet in Cairngorms National Park, a Dark Sky Island (Isle of Coll) and a Dark Sky Town (Moffat).
Paula Ward, Regional Leadership Director at VisitScotland, said: “Langholm is such a special place with a strong community spirit which is encapsulated in the story of the Langholm Chilli Club and the mark it has made on the town. When planning to send our intrepid Highland Coosmonaut into near space we felt it only fitting that he take something from Langholm on his trip – and what better than chilli seeds from Scotland’s Chilli Capital.
“We hope BuzzBò’s journey to the stars has only added to the astronomical flavour of the chillies and we’re so pleased to support and bring attention to the Langholm Chilli Festival which will provide a welcome boost to the community at this time.
“VisitScotland is focused on the recovery of the industry, building a destination and visitor experience which allows tourism and events to flourish now and in the future. We’ll continue to work with, and support, businesses and communities to ensure we rebuild this vital part of Scotland’s economy.”
Celebrity chef, Tony Singh, owner of Radge Chaat, said: “I was over the moon to meet BuzzBò and have the opportunity to sample the amazing cosmic-chillies sent up from Langholm! Scotland’s cuisine is already out of this world, but these chillies have cemented this fact! They might even make a debut in our chilli-cheese samosas. I’m looking forward to meeting up with BuzzBò at Langholm Chilli Festival later this month.”
Mark Hodgson from Langholm Chilli Club said: “We started Langholm Chilli Club a few years ago to encourage people to grow, eat and enjoy the most awesome plants on the planet! We have members growing chillies right across the world and now with the support of BuzzBò and his space chillies, we have been able to surpass our ambition and include ‘out-of-this-world’ chillies as part of our Chilli Festival this year.”