Spring Weekend set to entice all walks

WIGTOWN’S annual Spring Weekend will take place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 May, when the Book Town will be celebrating recently being awarded the accolade “Scotland’s most creative small town”.

This year the Book Town’s mini-festival, which is organised by the Association of Wigtown Booksellers, will feature more than 30 events and activities for children and adults alike. As well as talks, there will be music, theatre, a visit from the Edinburgh Royal Observatory’s mobile planetarium, and a Sunday morning fun run.

Many of the events will be celebrating Scotland’s history and landscape, with a particular focus on Dumfries and Galloway. They include author Dane Love on the Covenanters in south-west Scotland (Sat 10.30am), local historian Jack Hunter on Galloway’s short stories (Sat 12 noon), Richard Smith on The Castles of Galloway (Sunday 11am) and David Collin on the remarkable history of the Kirkcudbright-built sailing ship the Prince of Denmark (Sun 2pm). Professor Tom McGuffog will talk about Galloway’s history from a personal family perspective (Sun 4.30pm), while Joseph Proskauer reveals the secrets of the Neolithic ruins at Cairn Holy (Sat 3pm & Sun 4.30pm).

Spreading the geographical net wider, author and naturalist Peter Wright will relive his 1,200km walk along Scotland’s watershed (Sat 4.30pm), Dr David Hannay will discuss the history of the bagpipes (Sun 12.30pm), while Edinburgh University Professor Charles Withers gives an illustrated talk about one of this year’s surprise best-sellers Scotland: Mapping the Nation (Sat 1.30pm) in the County Buildings. Described by Alexander McCall Smith as a “real treasure”, the book offers the first history of the nation told through its maps and map-makers.

Literary events include the Saltire Prize-winning novelist Eleanor Thom, aka Eleanor Dooks, (Sat 3pm), and poetry from Macallan Award-winner Dorothy Alexander (1.30pm) and Hugh Bryden (Sat 4.30pm). There will also be the launch of edition 11 of south-west Scotland’s premier literary magazine Southlight (Sun 11am).

The musical programme kicks off with Orain Sangs a lunchtime concert in Wigtown Church on Saturday (12 noon) from the Lowland Lassies Choir and the Gaelic Song Class. Evening music is provided by folk duo The Cochranes (Sat 7pm) and teenage ukulele-player and winner of 2011’s Wigtown’s Got Talent, Zoe Bestel (Sun 7pm).

Theatre-lovers have another chance to see the Swallow Theatre’s production The Ballad of Wigtown Gaol, which has four performances on Sunday 6 May. The show, which is performed at the Old Prison House on Harbour Road, was a sell-out success at last autumn’s Wigtown Book Festival.

Children’s events include a puppet version of Robert Burns’s Tam o’Shanter (Sat 2pm), an audience with the Belties of Curlywee Farm (Sat 10.30am), an appearance by popular Glasgow children’s author Maria Cairnie (Sun 11am) and a return for the Glasgow Science Festival teams very popular “Build Your Own Dalek” event (Sun 11am-3pm). The whole family is invited to come star-gazing at the indoor planetarium (Sun 11am-3pm) in the County Buildings, where a festival café will also be operating.

The full programme for the Spring Weekend, which is run in association with the Wigtown Book Festival and supported by Creative Scotland through the Creative Places Awards, can be found at www.wigtownbookfestival.com. For more information, to obtain a printed programme or to book tickets, please phone 01988 403222. Tickets, which range from £2-£5, will also be available from the Wigtown Festival Company office in the County Buildings, Wigtown, during office hours.