Dumfries And Galloway Arts Festival Opens Today As The First Of 60 Events Get Underway

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The 42nd Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival opens today, marking the first in a ten day celebration of artists, world class performers and diverse culture found across the region.

Centred around the theme Hame’ll Dae Me – every event in the 2021 programme – combining music, theatre, dance, comedy and spoken word –  is made by, featuring or directly engaged with artists and audiences from the area.

The South West of Scotland celebration welcomes audiences safely back to live entertainment in a variety of ways this summer. For those in Dumfries and Galloway or those exploring the programme from afar, there is something for everyone in this love letter to one of the country’s artistic hotspots. All curated with a mix of in person and at home entertainment in mind.

In a momentous occasion for both artists and audiences alike, Scotland’s well loved stand-up comedian Mark Nelson will return to the stage in front a real, in person audience at the Theatre Royal marking the official opening of the festival and the oldest working theatre in Scotland back open for business for the first time since 2020. The show will also be streamed live for those keen to watch on at home.

The Theatre Royal series continues on Saturday night with award winning Scottish singer Emily Smith and New Zealand born songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jamie McClennan aka Smith & McClennan showcase their album ’Small Town Stories’ The Lucky Doves perform next Saturday 24 and The Firelight Trio bring the festival to a close on Sunday 25 July.

These live streamed performances join a full digital programme of events as part of D&G Arts Festival at Hame – reaching well beyond the local area and into people’s homes across the country. Passes are available on a ‘Pay What You Can’ model providing easy access to the programme. From home tickets are available to book at any time throughout the festival.

Just some of the highlights over the ten days include The Scottish Ensemble presents BREATHE: Music and your Mind – a live online performance combining music for strings with reflections from Lillian Cuthbert on how we can all use music in our daily lives to feel better; Uninvited Guests and Fuel presents Love Letters at Home – a night of song dedications and the stories attached to them with declarations of love, past and present. Following a successful virtual tour of Scotland in April, Helen Milne Productions’ Distance Remaining shares the story of three lost souls making a break for freedom, but it’s April 2020 and no journey is as simple as A to B; and Bare Boards and a passion presents Weavers of Grass – a multi-media performance with award winning poet Chrys Salt and acclaimed harper Wendy Stewart exploring the creative process, human frailty and ancient traditions.

Into the rest of the opening weekend and the Talking Horse – a brand new mobile and outdoor venue created in partnership with Townsend Theatre Productions will tour through the heart of Dumfries and Galloway starting with Annan this Saturday and Stranraer on Sunday before taking in Dumfries on Saturday 24 and Castle Douglas on Sunday 25 July.

Each event day will present four live performances for audiences to enjoy with a varied line-up celebrating local artists. Young trad musicians Rose Byers – an award winning singer and Catriona McGhie – who released her first album Oran to great acclaim kick things off on Saturday with a one off show. Just some of the names also taking to the Talking Horse stage include Kate Kyle – shortlisted for the BBC Scotland Singer / Songwriter 2019 performs her strong, soulful country vocals; Scotland’s Young Magician of the Year Brandon Barrett demonstrates his comedic mind reading; and  Stalwarts of the trad music scene Claire Mann and Aaron Jones have worked with the finest musicians in the business appearing on over 100 recordings. They will perform an exclusive gig of their own critically acclaimed work.

For those looking for a more casual festival experience, from this weekend onwards, a unique programme of pop up performances will appear in locations across town centres, beautiful gardens, monuments and art centres . Featuring Oceanallover, Cultured Mongrel and young people from the Stage iT performance programme, audiences can find 18 music, dance and theatre performances happening throughout the festival.  Locals can simply follow the festival on social media @dgartsfest to find out where they can be spotted each day. They will also be livestreamed through Facebook and Instagram.

The complete Festival lineup can be found here.

Melanie Purdie, Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival’s Strategic and Creative Director said:Dumfries & Galloway has a thriving cultural scene and the Arts Festival remains a vital component of Scotland’s arts calendar each year. With so many artists from the region being unable to perform over the past 18 months, we recognise and celebrate the burgeoning creatives this Summer. It marks the start of a highly anticipated return to theatre, gigs and shows that we can’t wait to bring to audiences over the next ten days and beyond with our year-round Arts Live programme.”

Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival is dedicated to showcasing the artists and burgeoning creativity across the region in a variety of ways that allows for anyone, no matter where they are, to engage with this year’s programme. Tickets are available now at dgartsfestival.org.uk.

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