- Over 250 authors will be welcomed to Scotland’s National Book Town in 2017
- Themes include International Connections, Revolutions, Walking & Talking, Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
- New initiatives include free children’s programme on Sunday 1 October
- Free tickets to young adult and adult events for everyone under 26
The 19th annual Wigtown Book Festival promises more than 250 events and welcomes a multitude of authors and famous names.
This year’s festival, from 22 September to 1 October 2017, includes sessions with leading Scottish authors Andrew O’Hagan and Denise Mina; from the world of sport Judy Murray and jockey Declan Murphy; politicians turned writers Roy Hattersley and Alan Johnson; TV presenter Rick Edwards, journalists Martin Bell, Jeremy Bowen, Gavin Esler and Bridget Kendall; and Palme d’Or-winning screenwriter Paul Laverty (I, Daniel Blake), who grew up in Wigtown and attends the festival for the first time.
The opening evening will see the launch of the Diary of a Bookseller, written by Wigtown bookshop-owner Shaun Bythell. The subject of a bidding war between publishers, the book recounts a year in the life of a secondhand bookshop owner and reads like a cross between George and Weedon Grossmith’s comic classic Diary of Nobody and TV series Black Books. It is one of three books from major publishers to be based in Wigtown and published this year.
At the heart of the 2017 event is a new international strand, World Town, which seeks to bring new voices from abroad to the festival. The programme welcomes overseas writers and commentators to discuss the German elections (24 September) and Catalan referendum (1 October). There are also sessions on the rise of France’s President Macron, the decline of US influence in the world, and how Brexit is seen by our continental neighbours.
As part of this international theme, the Upland/ Spring Fling artists’ residency, now in its 9th year, will welcome Moroccan storyteller Mehdi El Ghaly and photographer Houssain Belabbes to work with their Scottish counterparts Anne Errington and Laura Hudson Mackay. Together they will be exploring the connection between Moroccan and Celtic storytelling traditions.
Artistic director Adrian Turpin comments: “Wigtown welcomes the world. It may be a small town in a remote part of south-west Scotland, but it’s also Scotland’s national book town, visited by an increasing number of book lovers from across the globe, many of whom have chosen to make their homes here.
“You don’t have to live in a city to engage with the wider world, especially now that digital technology allows us all to maintain contacts over large geographical distances. It is possible to be truly global and local. We feel that it’s especially important to look outwards at this moment in history. In particular, after the Brexit vote, on both sides of the debate there has been a new urgency to know about our European neighbours.”
Closer to home, the 2017 Wigtown Book Festival also celebrates Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology with Professor Sir Tom Devine. It also looks at the particular contribution that the south-west of the country has made to Scotland’s national story, from Covenanters and the Galloway Viking Hoard, to the works of historian Thomas Carlyle and engineer Thomas Telford.
Taking inspiration from the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the 2017 festival will consider technological, social and political revolutions and the forces that drive them, through the works of among others Alec Ryrie (Protestants), Victor Sebestyen (Lenin the Dictator) and Douglas Murray (The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam).
A series of new Walking & Talking events will encourage the exchange of ideas on the hoof, with an aim to refresh the spirit and exercise mind and body. James Canton will recreate ancient Wigtownshire; author of A Book of Silence, Sara Maitland, leads a silent walk; taking inspiration from poet Harry Giles, writers Robert Twigger and Jessica Fox find new ways to explore the Galloway Forest Park; while author and farmer Rosamund Young will bring to life her cult book The Secret Life of Cows on a local dairy farm.
There’s also plenty to do not centred on books. This year the festival offers film screenings in the County Buildings, a nightly theatre programme at Scotland’s smallest theatre, The Swallow, and a number of visual arts exhibitions. Music includes Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, played by Glasgow’s Auricle Ensemble and the fantastic Commoners Choir, whose songs of revolt and dissent are a central part of this year’s Revolutions theme. Wine and whisky tastings will be provided by Nikki Welch and Blair Bowman, while the festival also offers a tour of Galloway’s new gin distillery Crafty and ice-cream maker Cream o’ Galloway. Light relief is provided by comedian turned classicist Natalie Haynes, while the stand-up farmer Jim Smith gives the low-down on rural life. The legendary festival talent competition and ceilidh also return on Saturday 23 September and 30 Septemberrespectively.
Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages & Publishing, Creative Scotland, said: “Congratulations to Wigtown Book Festival on another inventive programme, full of ideas and debate, with exceptional writers from Scotland and beyond. The festival is a key event in Scotland’s cultural calendar, and an important fixture for Dumfries and Galloway.”
Stuart Turner, Head of EventScotland, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Wigtown Book Festival again this year, through our Beacon Programme. Scotland is the perfect stage for cultural events and the festival is one of the most iconic literary festivals in the UK. It’s great to see that this year’s programme is as strong as ever, with household names alongside a strong regional offering. It’s also fitting that during Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, that the festival will be exploring the region’s past and historic contribution through an exciting programme of talks and events.”
In a packed children’s programme, Abie Longstaff invites you to check into the Superhero Hotel, Mairi Hedderwick tells us what Katie Morag did next, Tony Bonning reveals folk tales from the region, and spells abound inSylvia Bishop‘s magical bookshop world. There will be a tea party for tigers and a Mudpuddle Farm drawing session with Shoo Rayner, while Philip Ardagh explores the world of Moominvalley. Popular children’s authorsVivian French and Debi Gliori host a workshop of superheroes and monsters encouraging creative minds to devise a character and story. This year’s programme also introduces for the first time a range of free events on the final Sunday.
Children’s programmer Anne Barclay said: “Our aim is to encourage our youngest festival-goers to read more books, write more stories, draw more pictures and, most importantly, have fun across the festival. We’re incredibly excited about the 2017 Children’s Festival which offers 10 days of engaging and interactive events for the whole family.”
A separate young people’s festival, WTF (Wigtown: The Festival) offers more than 25 free events programmed by young people for their peers, aged 13-25. Writers attending will include Cathy Macphail, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Helen Grant and Brian Conaghan, winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award 2016. The young people’s programme also features advice on creating comics from Gary Chudleigh, Alan Grant and John McShane, inspirational spoken words with Savannah Brown, a writing masterclass from Nadine Aisha Jassat and workshops that include drawing (with illustrator Shoo Raynor), editing and ceramic design.
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Notes to Editors
- Booking information – To book tickets call 01988 403222, visit in person at Number 11 North Main Street in Wigtown or buy online at www.wigtownbookfestival.com
- Website – www.wigtownbookfestival.com
- Dates of festival– 22 September to 1 October 2017
- Funders– Wild Foods of Scotland, Creative Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway Council, EventScotland, The Holywood Trust, Engage, Batchworth Trust, Winifred Kennedy Trust, Mr Edward Hocknell, The Korner Family, Sir Iain Stewart, WS Wilson Charitable Trust.
- With kind thanks– to all volunteers and local businesses who help make the festival every year.
- EventScotland is working to make Scotland the perfect stage for events. By developing an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events EventScotland is helping to raise Scotland’s international profile and boost the economy by attracting more visitors. For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit www.EventScotland.org. Follow EventScotland on Twitter @EventScotNews.
- EventScotland is a team within the VisitScotland Events Directorate, the national tourism organisation which markets Scotland as a tourism destination across the world, gives support to the tourism industry and brings sustainable tourism growth to Scotland. For more information about VisitScotland see www.visitscotland.orgor for consumer information on Scotland as a visitor destination see www.visitscotland.com.
About Creative Scotland
- Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. It enables people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. It distributes funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery.
- For further information about Creative Scotland please visitwww.creativescotland.com.
- Follow Creative Scotland @creativescots andwww.facebook.com/CreativeScotland
For further information and interview requests contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or Matthew@ScottishFestivalsPR.Org