Wigtown Book Festival programme launched

Director Adrian turpin looks forward to this year's festival
Director Adrian turpin looks forward to this year's festival

This year’s Wigtown book festival programme has been launched with a central theme for 2015 – the relationship between the city and the country.

The festival will also be celebrating Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink with an enhanced programme of culinary talks and activities.

Participants in the 2015 festival include writers Leila Aboulela, Laura Barnett, Chris Brookmyre, Jenny Colgan, Caroline Criado-Perez, Gavin Francis, Janice Galloway, Mairi Hedderwick, Sir John Lister-Kaye, Liz Lochhead, Val McDermid, Neel Mukherjee, Thomas Pakenham, Anthony Seldon, Malachy Tallack, Raymond Tallis and AN Wilson; EastEnders star Annette Badland; comedians Jon Holmes, Phill Jupitus and Hardeep Singh Kohli; politicians Alex Salmond and Vince Cable; broadcasters Frank Gardner, Bridget Kendall, Rev Richard Coles, John McKay, Mike Wooldridge, Marc Allum of the Antiques Roadshow and Gary Bell QC, star of BBC1’s The Legalizer; astronomer Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell; and legendary Corries folk musician Ronnie Browne.

In a special event, the festival will be celebrating the life of the Galloway-born poet and New Yorker journalist with an 8-hour “Alistair Reidathon” of his work on Sunday 27 September. There will also be a unique session marking publisher Jamie Byng’s 21 years at Canongate and a rare chance to hear Richard Brown, the Scottish-born executive producer of the hit US TV show True Detective. Andrew Graham, son of Poldark author Winston Graham, will talks about his father’s legacy. Artist and former KLF frontman Bill Drummond will return to where he grew up to deliver a performance lecture and publicly build, then raffle, one of his 40 bed sculptures.

Entertainment will be provided by, among others, The Bookshop Band, who become the festival’s first musicians in residence, while the National Theatre of Scotland will present a new piece of theatre, To Begin…, devised in Wigtown over the past six months. Playwright David Greig’s Two Minute Manifesto relocates from Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre while acclaimed live literature cabaret Rally & Broad visits Wigtown for the first time. Also new are The Midge, a storytelling evening inspired by Chicago Public Radio’s The Moth, and a People’s Man Booker Prize event. Old favourites returning include the infamous “writer-local” talent show Wigtown’s Got Talent and critic Stuart Kelly’s fiendish Literary Pub Quiz.

As ever the festival also offers visitors the chance to explore some of the glorious Galloway countryside. Outdoor activities include sea-kayaking with explorer Robert Twigger, farm visits and stargazing sessions with rangers from the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park.

At the festival’s heart is a strong non-fiction programme including Andrew Lownie’s long-awaited new biography of Guy Burgess; Dan Boothby’s new Gavin Maxwell memoir; Alex Perry on the new Africa; Cathy Rentzenbrink’s heartbreaking memoir The Last Act of Love; Matt Haig’s bestselling Reasons to Stay Alive; Damien Lewis on Churchill’s secret operations group and Max Arthur’s new pictorial history of Churchill which uses little-seen material from family albums and the official archive; Daniel Hahn on the new Oxford Companion to English Literature; neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan on psychosomatic illness; and Peter Moore on the pioneers of weather forecasting.

Elsewhere, topics for debate include the psychology of ISIS (with the BBC’s Frank Gardner), the death of the European dream, and Scotland’s post-landslide politcal landscape (with commentators Iain McWhirter and Alex Massie).

An international flavour is given by Lars Mytting, a household name in Norway for his book and primetime TV series about chopping wood. Dutch journalist Joris Luyendijk offers a dazzling expose what’s wrong with the City, The Masters of the Universe; Greek commentator Yannis Palaiologos explains his country’s financial meltdown; while Sweden’s Katrine Marcal offers a devastating critique of conventional economics in Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? Also from Sweden is the internationally best-selling novelist Katarina Bivald, while the previously Man Booker shortlisted Canadian writer Patrick deWitt will discuss his new novel.

As part of the strand to mark Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, Costa Award-nominated novelist Simon Wroe and oral historian Laura Mitchinson will be running a unique pop-up restaurant exploring the relationship between food and memory. There will also be author dinners with Scotland’s Makar, Liz Lochhead and Marco Pierre White’s ghost writer, James Steen, and an appearance by Lynn Hill, founder of the legendary Clandestine Cake Club. Other culinary events include foraging on the Galloway coast and a visit to one of Scotland’s only tea plantations at Garrocher Market Garden.

Wigtown Book Festival’s children’s programme offers more than 40 events, authors including Philip Ardagh, Anthony McGowan, Debi Gliori, Cathy Cassidy and Cathy McPhail. A dedicated press release is available for it, and for the dedicated young people (13-25) programme.

About Wigtown Book Festival History and Supporters

The festival is now one of the largest in the UK and the second largest in Scotland after Edinburgh. Set up more than a decade ago to help regenerate an economically disadvantaged rural community, the event now contributes more than £2.1M a year to the local economy.

Since becoming a charity in 2007, Wigtown Book Festival has more than doubled in size and won two national awards, a VisitScotland Thistle and the Arts & Business Scotland Community Award. In 2012 it won Creative Scotland’s inaugural £50,000 Creative Place Award for communities under 1,500 people. As of 2014, the Wigtown Festival Company is receiving regular funding from Creative Scotland, supporting both festival and its year-round programme of literature development and young people’s activities across Dumfries & Galloway.

The 2015 Wigtown Book Festival is made possible by private and public supporters, including senior supporter the ScottishPower Foundation, Baillie Gifford, Creative Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway Council and the national events agency EventScotland. The festival is part of the Year of Food and Drink 2015. Charitable supporters include the Barcapel Foundation, the Holywood Trust and the WS Wilson Trust, as well as many other generous individuals, organisations and local volunteers. A full list of funders and supporters can be found on our website.

Tickets for the Wigtown Book Festival can be booked online from July at wigtownbookfestival.com or by phoning 01988 402036.