New spirit for spring festival

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There’s a different flavour to the spring festival in Wigtown this year.

The annual event, organised by the town’s booksellers, runs throughout May and will highlight the town’s links with whisky and words.

In conjunction with the distillery at Bladnoch, the Wigtown Booksellers’ Association will be celebrating the history and influence of uisge beatha.

The programme for the Whisky, Words and Wisdom Festival, released this week, features a fabulous array of events that will provide stimulation to the senses and delight to the most eclectic of tastes. And although the emphasis will be on the “spirit of the lowlands”, there will be talks, concerts, dramas, dinners and dancing.

Laura Mustian, chair of the Wigtown Booksellers’ Association, said: “Wigtown’s spring literary festival always gives the opportunity to meet interesting speakers and performers in the intimate setting of our many bookshops. In this year of Homecoming 2014, we have events through the whole of May, celebrating Scotland’s food and drink together with food for the mind and soul: music, art, poetry, nature, history and mystery.”

With funding from Homecoming 2014 and Event Scotland, the organisers have been able to invite a collection of outstanding entertainers, authors, historians, musicians, actors, raconteurs, poets, food specialists and, most importantly, whisky experts.

Each weekend in May will feature a collection of events either in Wigtown venues or at Bladnoch Distillery. Whisky experts, including Caroline Dewar, Alex Bruce, Gavin D Smith and Martin Armstrong, will rub shoulders with enthusiasts such as poet Rab Wilson and Tom Morton and Angus MacRaild, who will present their brilliant Barley and Malt Revue.

But if you’re not a whisky fan, there’s still lots to do. Music lovers will enjoy concerts by the Wrigley Sisters, the Galloway Consort, Margaret Bennett, Gavin Markwick and Ruth Morris, and the world premier of the Angels of the Tide, a musical about the Wigtown Martyrs.

There will be an abundance of local authors including Jack Hunter, Maggie Stuart, Christine Ashworth, Alastair M Carmichael and Ivor Waddell along with leading authorities including Peter Wright, professors Ted Cowan and Alvin Jackson, and Dorie Wilkie. Mix in some fabulous chefs and food writers such as Andrew MacDonald and Catherine Brown and a dash of top children’s authors like Debi Gliori and you’ve got a recipe for a fabulous festival.

The programme is available now and there are further details on the website, including a link to an online box office.