South Scotland

Wigtown book festival: What to look out for this year

Book festival Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption The festival runs for 10 days in Scotland's national book town

The annual book festival has begun in Scotland's national book town - Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway.

It is the 21st edition of the celebration and runs for 10 days until 6 October this year.

Almost 300 events are part of a packed programme which organisers hope has something for everyone.

Here are a few elements to look out for as the area aims to bring "some of the UK's most exciting voices to Scotland's book town".

Ace invaders

Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption Galloway has a long tradition of mixing different cultures

One of the festival's themes this year is The Lost Province.

It has been described as "an exploration of Galloway's past as a melting pot of Norse, Gaelic, Anglo Saxon, Scots and Cumbric invaders and settlers".

It will look at how their languages, art and culture helped to shape the region.

Artistic director Adrian Turpin said the festival hoped to live up to the area's historic reputation as a "meeting place and a melting pot for so many different cultures".

This Farming Man

Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption Agriculture is another theme for this year's festival

Another subject being explored in Wigtown will be no surprise to anyone who has visited an area famed for its farming.

Agriculture has been described as "at the heart of the life and economy of Dumfries and Galloway for thousands of years".

Visitors will get a chance to see that for themselves with Patrick Laurie inviting the public to witness the work he is doing to "restore the balance between agriculture and nature".

He will show people round his farm to illustrate how Galloway cattle's grazing can create the right conditions for many bird species to thrive.

Chanel crossing

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Coco Chanel is one of the subjects of a talk by Matthew Parris

Broadcaster and columnist Matthew Parris will use a talk at Wigtown this year to explore "the factors that generate genius".

As the presenter of Radio 4's long-running Great Lives series he has often noted how the inspirational men and women chosen by his guests had a troubled youth.

He said: "You would have thought that a troubled childhood would act as a brake on future achievement, but over the years I have noticed that a disproportionate number of the great people we have featured had crawled out from the wreckage of a disastrous childhood."

Among the high achievers likely to be mentioned are Marie Curie, Freddie Mercury, Edward Lear, Coco Chanel and Rudyard Kipling.

Mind your languages

Image copyright Anne Vance
Image caption Mhairi Owens was the winner of the Wigtown poetry prize with her work in Scots

In the UN's International Year of Indigenous Languages, the festival will celebrate the power of conversation and the languages of Scotland.

Activities include two days of drop-in Gaelic events and a discussion about why minority languages matter.

A lecture will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of "poet, songwriter, soldier, radical, folklorist and intellectual" Hamish Henderson.

The Wigtown poetry prize will also be given out with the main award having gone to a work in Scots for the first time.

Creature comforts

Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption Big Wig - described a "large friendly blue creature who lives in the woods" - is the mascot of the children's festival

Organisers say the children's festival - Big Wig - continues to grow.

Authors, illustrators and storytellers from all over the country are taking part once again this year.

And, of course, they will be joined by Big Wig herself, described as a "large, friendly blue creature who lives in the woods".

There will also be a party celebrating the 50th anniversary of the hugely popular book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The full programme for the festival is available online.

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