Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival Unveils Its 2021 Summer Programme 

Scotland’s largest rural performing arts festival returns with an outdoor and online performance programme celebrating the people and creativity of Dumfries and Galloway from 16 – 25 July.   

Frankenstien – Credit Lukas Galantay


Combining an outdoor travelling stage, pop up performances in unexpected locations and a digital programme packed with world class artists – Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival – based in South West of Scotland – returns in brand new form for over ten days this July. With 60 events blending music, theatre, dance, comedy and spoken word, the lineup has been specially curated with in person and at home entertainment in mind.

The 42nd programme – centred around the theme Hame’ll Dae Me – is a tribute to the burgeoning artists and world class performers of the region and a celebration of diverse culture found across Dumfries and Galloway. Every event is made by, featuring or directly engaged with artists and audiences from the area.

The programme includes a live stand up set from comedian Mark Nelson, a new album showcase from Smith & McClennan, a celebration of European music from The Firelight Trio, and a sneak peek into the exciting world of emerging five piece band, The Lucky Doves.

Melanie Purdie, Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival’s new strategic and creative director came into the role in March of this year. Inheriting some of the 2020 programme cancelled due to Covid-19, she is both welcoming back and presenting new artists through a unique programme specific to the times in which we’re living, giving the region a voice on a national and international platform.

“We are proud to welcome you to join us for a refreshed programme that places artists and audiences from the region first and foremost. We paused, we reflected and reimagined a Festival that sits at the heart of communities across the area. We have envisioned the future of the Festival and what we would like to see in our changed world. Hame’ll Dae Me celebrates and promotes world class artists from across Dumfries and Galloway and connects you with nationally renowned performing arts companies. We are bringing you a safe, secure, and engaging programme to experience locally, or from the comfort of your own home. Enjoy!”

The ten-day festival will be presented in three new strands this summer: 

D&G Arts Festival at Hame

For the very first time the Festival will extend its reach beyond the region and into people’s homes across the country with a digital line-up made for online viewing. The programme includes:

A series of live performances streaming from Theatre Royal in Dumfries featuring award-winning Scottish singer Emily Smith and New Zealand born multi-instrumentalist Jamie McClennan aka Smith & McClennan showcase their album ‘Small Town Stories’ with an uplifting performance; emerging five piece Scottish band The Lucky Doves welcome audiences into their world – with a Pogues meets The Waterboys slick sound; The Firelight Trio’s Gavin Marwick, Ruth Morris and Phil Alexander play European folk music creating a rich tapestry of lively Swedish polskas, lilting French waltzes and klezmer; and multi award winning stand-up comedian, Mark Nelson will keep audiences laughing with his hilarious, intelligent and no-holds-barred live show.

The Scottish Ensemble presents BREATHE: Music and your Mind – a live online performance combining their trademark music for strings with reflections from an expert on how we can all use music in our daily lives to feel better; Paragon Music presents a selection of stunning new pieces created and performed by emerging artists on their inclusive Resonate programme; and 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.

In theatre, following a successful virtual tour of Scotland last month, Helen Milne Productions’ Distance Remaining shares the story of three lost souls making a break for freedom, but its April 2020 and no journey is as simple as A to B; and Vanishing Point and Brite Theater present Deliverance – a show delivered straight to your door – this is a performance by you, about you.

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;  and Carolyn Yates presents Gaze – a creative response to photographer Kim Ayres’ nude portraits of women over 50 with actors Sheila Grier, Kirsty Miller and Linda Duncan McLaughlin; with Drew Taylor, dramaturg and director.

Talking Horse

In partnership with local theatre company, Townsend Theatre Productions, the Talking Horse is a completely mobile, outdoor venue that will tour through the heart of Dumfries and Galloway – including Annan on 17 July, Stranraer on 18 July, Dumfries on 24 July and Castle Douglas on 25 July – hosting artists from each community on its travelling stage. Each event day will present four live performances for audiences to enjoy with a varied line-up celebrating local artists including:

Two young trad musicians Rose Byers – an award winning singer and Catriona McGhie – who released her first album Oran to great acclaim – perform a one off show; Catriona will also perform alongside Jodie Rae – an emerging musician featuring as part of the Festival’s young commissions project.

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; and Dumfries based musician and singer Bob Hollis who rose to stardom fronting Ska band More From Jim will perform an eclectic mix of song putting his vocal prowess on display.

Kate Kyle – shortlisted for the BBC Scotland Singer / Songwriter 2019 performs her strong soulful country vocals and Sarah Law will follow with a relaxing set inspired by Caerlaverock Castle and the surrounding wildlife. Kate will also perform an exclusive solo show; and The Ramblin’ Hedgepigs trio – Nicola Black, Amanda and Blackie blend their sound of folk, Americana and a touch of jazz for a set of home brewed songs.

A musician shaped by the culture and people of the region Liam ‘Rusty’ Russell is one third of the band North Atlas. Liam will perform an exclusive solo performance followed by a performance from Chelsie Nash of her one-woman comedy show, blending spoken word and theatre; and Scotland’s Young Magician of the Year Brandon Barrett demonstrates his comedic mind reading with a show that will make you question if it’s a trick or he’s controlling your thoughts.

Buskers & Fox and Hound in association with Annan Harbour present Lot 52 and Sea Shanties – a new play by Vivien Jones and directed by award winning director, Ken Gouge follows the story of a family leaving Annan Harbour in 1775 to sail to Nova Scotia in search of a better life. A story of resilience and fortitude that resonates with modern-day mass emigration; and Townsend Theatre Productions present The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – an enduring and entertaining classic story of Edwardian painters and decorators by Robert Tressell, tells of their struggle for survival brought to life by actor Neil Gore.

Pop Up Performances 

Local artists will pop-up across Dumfries and Galloway, appearing in many unique and exciting locations such as town centres,  beautiful gardens, monuments, and art centres. Featuring Oceanallover, Cultured Mongrel and the young people from Stage iT, audiences can find 18 music, dance and theatre performances happening throughout the festival.  Locals can follow the festival on social media to find out where they can be spotted each day throughout the festival. They will also be livestreamed through Facebook and Instagram.

Stage iT is a  project run by young people, for young people as part of the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival that returns in 2021. Working with young people aged 14 – 26, they are supported to take ownership of staging events in the region, curating their own programme and providing them with opportunities for training, mentorship and creating the foundations for a career within the performing arts industry. The Stage iT programme is overseen by the Young Promoters Group (YPG) with 11 events peppered throughout the live and digital programme.

Whether you’re in Dumfries and Galloway or exploring the programme from afar, there is something for everyone in this love letter to one of Scotland’s artistic hotspots.

For the full programme, visit dgartsfestival.org.uk.

Listing information 

Dates: 16 – 25 July

Livestream performances at Theatre Royal, Dumfries: Ticket Price: £10 Under 26 Half Price Tickets Available

D&G Arts Festival at Hame: Pay What You Can

Talking Horse: Ticket Price: £5 Under 26 Half Price Tickets Available Two Adult Tickets, Same Show: £8

Under 26 Discount: If you are under 26, you can claim half price tickets on all Talking Horse and live in person Theatre Royal events during the Festival, supported by The Holywood Trust.


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