A cracking guide to What's on in 2016 across Dumfries and Galloway
It might be stretching to say that Dumfries and Galloway never sleeps – but it’s not too far from the truth.
We’ve even got a major international festival in the depths of winter.
Darkest January is brightened up by nine days of comedy, theatre and much more when the annual Big Burns Supper Festival kicks off each year.
Robert Burns lived at Ellisland Farm, on the outskirts of Dumfries, and wrote some of his finest works there – as well enthusiastically frequenting and making mischief at local haunts which still bustle today such as The Globe Inn on the High Street.
And these days the town pays tribute to its most famous son with the Big Burns Supper festival and a huge street carnival, which attracts tens of thousands of people.
The event was launched by Doonhamer – for all non-locals, that’s a person from Dumfries – Graham Main, who travelled the globe as a theatre producer before returning home to set up the biggest Burns Night celebration in the world.
This year’s carnival is expected to be the most impressive yet, with 4,500 lantern-bearers parading through the streets along with hundreds of lavishly costumed performers, bands and floats.
There will also be a spectacular firework display, lighting up the town and its beautiful riverside.
The carnival is on Sunday January, 24 and starts at 5pm at the town’s Burns Statue and will wind down Buccleuch Street before turning along the Whitesands.
Graham and the rest of his team are dedicated to making Burns Night a joyous public celebration of life, music, song and Scottish culture – the things Rabbie himself held dear.
It will also double as the festival’s own fifth birthday party.
With big name acts set to appear in 2016 including tartan legends the Bay City Rollers, Black Grape and comedian Jason Byrne, and the return of Edinburgh Festival award winning cabaret show, Le Haggis, there will be plenty to celebrate.
When the winter months draw to a close and daffodils begin to dot the landscape, the Wild Spring Festival kicks off and runs throughout April, providing a choice of around 100 events including red deer tours, badger watching and a whole host of family activities.
Our other major May event is Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival, the longest running event in the region, stretching back to 1979.
It holds more than 60 events at 30 venues and offers a lively and varied programme at venues ranging from the Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries to Scotland’s smallest working theatre, the Swallow, near Wigtown.
Everything from classical concerts to youth theatre is on the menu.
The summer is packed with a plethora of festivals special to each and every community across the region, ranging from the colourful and historic Riding of the Marches ceremonies at Dumfries and Sanquhar – involving cavalcades of horsemen and women – and agricultural shows, to more modern-day celebrations packed with family events, such as Douglas Day at Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie Daze.
For some music fans, June is all about the Eden Festival, when a wonderfully vibrant and colourful explosion of music, culture and madcap entertainment descends on the Rae Hills just outside Moffat.
Eden is a boutique festival which lets people feel like they are in another world for the weekend and truly needs to be seen to be believed.
It hosts nine different stages including a kids arena, circus tent, drive in cinema, comedy, cabaret and workshops; as well as a feast of performers, artworks, games, and even some morning work outs hosted by the legendary Mr Motivator.
It takes place on June 9 – 12 and is not to be missed.
The Wickerman Festival rocks the region in July and is perhaps the most well known of the myriad events in Dumfries and Galloway each year.
Dubbed “Scotland’s alternative music festival” it has boasted the same big name acts as TinthePark – The Scissor Sisters, Primal Scream and funk legend Nile Rogers have all headlined – but with a more laid back vibe and family friendly atmosphere.
Wickerman, which has been running since 2001, takes place at East Kirkcarswell near Dundrennan – just an hour’s hop from the M74 – and attracts up to 20,000 revellers each year.
One of its most spectacular features, about from the abundance of locally produced food stalls and wide range of entertainment, is the burning of the 40 foot Wickerman and fireworks display on site on the final night.
The Wickerman Festival takes place on July 22 and 23.
August brings the region’s newest music festival, the rapidly expanding Electric Fields Festival, which takes place in the idyllic setting of the grounds of Drumlanrig Castle, near Thornhill, in August.
Now in its third year and back for 2016 as a two day extravaganza, organisers of the small but perfectly formed festival remain dedicated to promoting the talent of some of the best unsigned talent the country has to offer, as well as featuring big name acts.
With some exciting lineup news on the way for this summer, festival fans would be wise to check out this gem before it becomes even bigger.
August is a busy month at Drumlanrig, with one of Scotland’s biggest and most popular events taking place at the historical grounds on August 20 and 21: Galloway Country Fair.
The winner of ‘Best Traditional Event’ at the Scottish Events Awards 2015, the annual two-day event is a true celebration of rural life and a great family day out where you can pursue an array of quality trade stalls, sample local produce and watch breath-taking displays at the entertainment area.