From 26 May to 4 June, the 38th Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival brings to the region a bolder, brighter and more ambitious programme than ever before.
Kicking off Scotland’s largest rural performing arts festival this year is Karine Polwart who makes an extremely rare appearance in Dumfries on 26 May with her Edinburgh International Festival sell-out show Wind Resistance. The concert heralds 10 days of world-class performing arts in venues across the region. Here are a few of the festival’s biggest and best highlights taking place on a stage near you:
The amazing Blazin’ Fiddles will set the region’s stages alight with award-winning Scots trad singers Robyn Stapleton and Claire Hastings in Dumfries on 1 June.
The Scottish Ensemble return to the region with another of their popular residencies. They will be holding workshops, a decadent tea dance and concerts and will play out the festival on 4 June with performance of Eastern Europe Express in Dumfries
Other musical highlights include Robyn Stapleton, who returns to a Dumfries stage with the Daleian Singers Male Voice Choir; theTinderbox Orchestra give a lively classical concert at the Theatre Royal; the talented voices of young singer-songwriters Elia Davidsonand Kate Kyle sing out at the Usual Place; and Sanquhar soprano Claudia Wood will give an evening of opera and song at St John’s Church, Dumfries with tenor Ross Wilson and Conal Bembridge-Sayers on piano.
In their 10th anniversary year, performance choir Cairn Chorus will bring their beautifully diverse music project to life. They will perform the world premiere of Cairn Valley Song Cycle at St Ninian’s Church, Moniaive, before joining forces with Scottish Ensemble at the Easterbrook Hall on 3 June.
Dumfriesshire’s African Explorer takes centre stage in Penpont and Dumfries when Cultural Connections present the fascinating life story of Joseph Thomson. Local-based dance troupe Les Impromptues invite everyone to dance in a marvellous Moniaive garden; andAbsolute Classics present a duo of world-renowned Blüthner pianists to audiences in Thornhill and Dumfries.
Circus artist and theatrical performer Phil Hardie presents Welcome My Son in Dumfries; comedienne Ruth E Cockburn puts on a free comedy workshop for young people and a laugh out loud comedy night, both in Dumfries; and there is a Playwrights’ Scratch Evening at the Theatre Royal on 4 June for anyone interested in new writing for performance.
A taste of the festival comes to the Plainstanes in Dumfries High Street on 27 May with al fresco performances by Micky Bartlett,Tinderbox Orchestra, Maidens of Music and Phil Hardie.
Saturday, 3 June four of the finest living poets from the region’s adjacent shorelines will read and discuss their work at the Theatre Royal, Dumfries.
Annandale and Eskdale
Mark Nelson and Micky Bartlett, two quality stand-up comedians from either side of the Irish Sea, come to the Corner House Hotel, Annan, on Friday, 26 May for an evening of hilarious stand-up.
In Lockerbie on 27 May, the USSO perform Holst’s Planet Suites; on 28 May, American singer-songwriter Lizanne Knott performs in Annan; and 3 June presents a rare opportunity to see Runrig frontman Donnie Munro perform in Langholm.
For theatre buffs, and as a prelude to the festival, the National Theatre of Scotland comes to Lockerbie Town Hall on 24 May to perform the forgotten story of three women in wartime: 306:DAY.
Lovers of Scotland’s darker history will relish an evening of science and murder as descends on Moffat on Saturday, 3 June. Isosceles Theatre brings the story of the infamous Dr Knox to the Old Well Theatre with Murder – Just What the Doctor Ordered
Stewartry and Kirkcudbrightshire
The relationship between people and the sea is explored on the weekend of Saturday, 27 to Monday 29 May, when Sandyhills beach, near Dalbeattie, is the venue for a unique experience of soundscape and sculpture when Vision Mechanics present their innovative and captivating production, Drift.
On 2 June Bellevue Rendezvous will give a concert with guests Jenn Butterworth and Laura-Beth Salter in Castle Douglas; Scotland’s premier jazz violinist Alex Yellowlees comes to Colvend; and the remarkable Mairi Campbell will bring her critically-acclaimed one-woman theatre show, Pulse, to New Galloway. Scottish Opera roll in to Threave Garden with free showings of their little bits of opera on 4 June and popular dance band Café Largo bring a Night in Holywood to Kirkcudbright on 27 May.
Mark Nelson and Micky Bartlett continue the comedy with their second festival appearance in Stranraer on 27 May; Robyn Stapletonsings again with the Daleian Singers in Newton Stewart on 28 May; and Lizanne Knott gives a performance in Stranraer on 27 May.
There is an afternoon with brass band champions, Fodens in Newton Stewart on 27 May and Blazin’ Fiddles light up Newton Stewart with Bellevue Rendezvous on 31 May.
For lovers of the theatre, the superb Paines Plough makes a welcome return to the region with their critically-acclaimed “heart-wrenching, hilarious” comedy drama, Every Brilliant Thing on 30 May. Nick Payne’s West End and Broadway sell-out drama, Constellations, will play out at the Swallow Theatre and Ryan Centre, Stranraer, on 30 and 31 May and, on 1 June, Fledgling Theatre Company bring their musical tragicomedy, They Built It: No One Came, to the Ryan Centre,.
Scottish Opera’s pop-up roadshow returns to Logan Botanic Gardens on 4 June and Jane Money and Richard Haslam bring classical music and song to the Swallow Theatre, Whithorn, on 26 and 29 May.
See more, pay less
There is a chance to see two captivating theatrical performances for £14 in New Galloway, Sanquhar and Dumfries with Alan Bissett’s Moira Monologues and Emily Carding’s one woman show Richard III over 3 and 4 June. Both these shows have played out across the country to high critical acclaim and this is a chance to see theatre at its best for less.
Half-price ticket offers for everyone under the age of 26 for most of the festival’s core events and ticket discounts for groups of eight or more.
From the Fringe
Fringe performances this year include a murder mystery and crime writers event in Wigtown; a Fridays concert on a Friday in Dumfries; the big sounds of Sammy Rimmington in Dumfries; Irish dance in Langholm; a performance by Crossmichael Drama Club in Castle Douglas; a drama highlighting the history of the Borders’ woollen industry in Langholm; and an historic churchyard tour by Dumfries’ favourite ghost hunters, Mostly Ghostly.
These are just a few of the highlights of the 2017 Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival and there is so much more. Programmes are available from outlets across the region or online from www.dgartsfestival.org.uk.
Tickets to all performances are available from the Midsteeple Box Office on 01387 253383