Scotland’s National Book Town celebrates with 10 days of events and entertainment featuring authors, campaigners, comedians and poets

A packed programme of authors, celebrity speakers and events has been unveiled for the 20th annual Wigtown Book Festival – described as the “brightest jewel on the festival circuit”.

Visitors to Scotland’s National Book Town during the festival, which runs from 21 to 30 September will be able to see broadcaster, writer and presenter Clare Balding along with bestselling author Patrick Gale, and comedian Susan Calman who danced her way into the hearts of millions on Strictly.

Others include Louis de Bernières, who first captivated readers with Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, celebrated landscape artist Andy Goldsworthy, equality campaigner Jo Swinson MP, comedian and radio presenter Robin Ince, historian Tom Devine, leading crime writer Ann Cleeves, actor, writer and comedian Arabella Weir, philosopher John Gray, mountain walker and writer Cameron McNeish and broadcaster and writer Sally Magnusson.

There will also be a series of events as special celebrations for the 20th festival. These include panel discussions offering writers’ perspectives on how Scotland has changed in the past two decades and what Europe will look like 20 years from now.

Adrian Turpin, Wigtown Book Festival Artistic Director, said: “The 20th festival is a very special moment for us and we are celebrating with a vibrant and exciting line-up of guests. Some are new to the event, others are old friends.
“We are also seizing the moment to look at a series of wider issues, including the ways in which Scotland has changed – for better or worse – since the late 1990s. And in a country, a continent and a world riven by upheaval and uncertainty we will explore what things might be like when the 40th festival comes around.
“It’s one of the great strengths of an event of this kind that we can bring together some of the most creative people alive today to get new insights and perspectives on every aspect of the past, present and future.
“Another is that we have a lot of fun.”
Professor Dame Sue Black, the forensic anthropologist who became a household name with her TV series History Cold Case, said:I am so looking forward to Wigtown book festival. It’s the brightest jewel on the festival circuit and I know it is going to be a really precious experience.”
Stuart Kelly, critic, journalist and author, who has been chairing Wigtown Book Festival events for more than a decade, added: “It’s a festival I absolutely love. What makes it special is that it has carved out its own identity. Every year Wigtown is distinctive.
“It’s also powerfully rooted in the area and the local people, offering a great deal for them and about their region as well as bringing in famous writers from all round the world.”

And 2018 will be no exception with an impressive line-up of authors and poets either based in, or writing about, Wigtown and the rest of the southwest Scottish region of Dumfries and Galloway.

Historian Ted Cowan will discuss John Ross of Stranraer’s ill-fated voyage to discover the Northwest Passage, Shaun Bythell talks about his bestselling Diary of a Bookseller one year on and Sara Maitland presents A Pocket Pilgrimage – St Ninian’s Cave.

Julia Muir Watt will look at Whithorn: An Economy of People, and Mike Morley shares stories of sacrifice and bravery from his book Wigtown Warriors. Meanwhile journalist Stephen Norris explains the unique charm of the Galloway hills and Jessica Fox discusses her re-released memoir Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets, which has now been optioned by a major Hollywood film company.

The festival is supported by Dumfries and Galloway Council, EventScotland part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, Creative Scotland and The Hollywood Trust.

Councillor Adam Wilson, the Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion said: “The Wigtown Book Festival is a huge success story and the celebrations for its 20th make this year even more special. It has grown to become an internationally known feature of Scotland’s cultural calendar and we look forward to welcoming visitors from all over the UK and far beyond to enjoy a fabulous event, in a beautiful town, set within one of Scotland’s most scenic regions.”

The festival programme caters for all ages and interests. There is the Big Wig children’s programme and WTF for young people. There are also film screenings, drama, poetry, music, visual art and the ever-popular Wigtown’s Got Talent contest.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said:The Wigtown Book Festival has been supported by EventScotland since 2005, and is an established part of Scotland’s world-class portfolio of cultural events. We are delighted to be funding the special 20th anniversary programme, a series of fantastic events, panels and discussions which will feature a number of well-known writers to the festival alongside new guests, and will showcase why Wigtown is one of the UK’s best loved literary festivals.
“It is also fantastic to see WTF joining the celebrations for Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 with young people helping to develop and implement the wonderfully diverse programme, giving them the opportunity to let their creative talents shine.”

For full details of Wigtown Book Festival go to wigtownbookfestival.com.

  • Festival goers will also be warmly invited to attend another colourful regional event – The Kirkcudbright Festival of Light, which will be taking place in Scotland’s Artists’ Town from 5 to 14 October – see kirkcudbrightlight.com.
  • Lovers of crime writing can also enjoy the Bloody Scotland festival in Stirling from 21-23 September. See https://bloodyscotland.com.