We are back! Scotland’s Largest Rural Performing Arts Festival returns for its 45th Anniversary Festival across Dumfries & Galloway from 23rd May – 2nd June 2024.

For 45 years, the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival has brought world-class theatre, music, dance, comedy and spoken word to the heart of communities across the region. The Festival is a celebration of local and national artists and its wide ranging 2024 programme of events has something for everyone to enjoy.

This year’s Festival has an eclectic and exciting programme featuring everything from outdoor circus events in Castle Douglas and at Crawick Multiverse to theatre performances from the incredible James Rowland with his show Piece of Work and Raymond Wilson presenting his Made in Scotland show I Hope Your Flowers Bloom and the World Famous A Play, A Pie and A Pint to spoken word events with Chrys Salt and Richard Ingham and I AM LOUD bringing their South of Scotland Poetry Slam Heat.

You can find this year’s festival in a variety of local venues, some non-traditional spaces and outdoors and providing events that build community engagement, enhance the health and wellbeing of communities and nurture equality of access and environmental sustainability.

Here is a breakdown of everything that you can experience at this year’s festival:

The 45th Festival will open with music from local artists who have created The Galloway SangStreams- Songs linking life, land and legacy at Easterbrook Hall on Thursday 23rd May, tapping into the rich cultural heritage and vibrant artistic performers of this area, local choir Cairn Chorus and guest collaborators have created an exciting multi-media project for 2024.

The Galloway Consort will present their show Our Most Special Servant at The Usual Place, Dumfries evoking the youthful joy and ever lurking danger of the Scottish Renaissance. In the evening, Aaron Jones & Rachel Walker performing at The Vault in Newton Stewart who ensure an evening of captivating live music and song with two of Scotland’s finest singers and musicians.

On the second weekend of the Festival, Scottish Opera will be visiting Wigtown County Buildings and Glencairn Memorial Institute in Moniaive where audiences can experience opera of the highest quality on a miniature scale with specially create 30 minute versions of Don Giovanni and The Merry Widow. They will also be touring the regions schools for three days prior to their public performances as part of a residency programme in partnership with the D&G Arts Festival.

Theatre will see a return of the partnership between the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival and the World Famous Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint bringing their delicious lunchtime theatre offer with ROOST, performing 5 shows across the week in the Old Well Theatre, Moffat, Theatre Royal Dumfries and Stranraer Millennium Centre.

The Festival will also feature theatre from Raymond Wilson and his Made in Scotland 2023 play I Hope Your Flowers Bloom, a semiautobiographical show and an insightful exploration of healthy masculinity and working class access to nature at The Studio in Moffat and The CatStrand, New Galloway.

James Rowland will also be touring his show Piece of Work to Moffat Town Hall, The Print Room in Wigtown and Glencairn Memorial Institute in Moniaive with an exploration about how the landscapes we exist within effect the way we think and feel and how searching for something is an end in itself.

The Authentic Artists Collective will bring When Mountains Meet to Castle Douglas Town Hall, a breathtaking blend of gig theatre, storytelling and striking visuals, with a cast of international storytellers and musicians on an unforgettable voyage from the Scottish Highlands to the Himalayas.

Shona Cowie and Neil Sutcliffe present With the Devil’s Assistance in Eskdalemuir and Kirkcudbright telling the story of Maggie Osborne from the 17th Century who supposedly made a deal with the devil and is a purposeful examination of feminism, patriarchy and capitalism then and now.

The Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival are also partnering with Tricky Hat Productions to present their show Flame Out and to do a creative community engagement project with over 50’s at The CatStrand in New Galloway where they will curate a performance using a mix of film and music to explore stories and taking inspiration from everyday life and to challenge the pre-conceived ideas of life after 50. If you’d like to get involved in the show, email emma@dgartsfestival.org.uk for more information.

Comedian Connor Burns will be bringing his show Vertigo from a sold out run at the Edinburgh Fringe last year to the Loreburn Hall Dumfries, a punchline packed stand up show serving up superb material, brilliant delivery and proper belly laughs with Scotland’s fastest rising comedy star.

The Festival will also feature exciting spoken word performances from award winning duo Chrys Salt and Richard Ingham and their show Weavers of Grass at RBCFT Dumfries and The Faed Gallery, Mill on the Fleet as they continue their innovative collaboration, combining evocative narrative sequences with mesmerizing jazz and contemporary classical interpretations to bridge the gap between outsider artist Angus MacPhee and Ötzi the Iceman, two extraordinary ‘weavers of grass’ separated by 5000 years.

Also hosting the I Am Loud South of Scotland Poetry Slam Regional Heat at The Stove in Dumfries as part of their 2024 nationwide Slam Series where 9 – 12 poets will compete for a £200 prize and South Slam Champion and entry into the Loud Poets Grand Slam Final. For more information on how to sign up, visit www.dgartsfestival.org.uk

Dance will also feature in this year’s programme with The Willow Trio bringing their highly acclaimed show The Swan of Salen to The Swallow Theatre and Johnstonebridge Town Hall. A multimedia adaptation of the heartbreaking tragedy of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and the parallel Gaelic legend featuring a unique blend of his iconic music and enchanting footage of stunning choreography projected behind the musicians.

As well as exciting indoor performances, the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival will also be partnering with Cirqulation to present a special outdoor extravaganza in Castle Douglas with Castle Douglas Development forum and at Crawick Multiverse, showcasing new work presented by leading national and emerging local circus artists featuring amazing acrobats, skilful jugglers and fire in a 45 minute show designed for everyone in the community to enjoy.

Also, as well as bringing national work to the region and supporting local artists within the programme the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival have also curated two performances this year to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the event. On Friday 31st May at the Theatre Royal Dumfries, audiences can enjoy a free celebration of the creativity and skills of some of the talented and brilliant D&G based performing arts practitioners who they’ve supported this year through their Support for Ambition Fund and Rough Mix Collaboration with Magnetic North as well as sharing creative ideas about the future of performing arts in the region.

Then at Easterbrook Hall in the evening, they will host a celebratory Concert and Ceilidh to mark 45 years with some of the incredible performers who have played a pivotal role both in the Festival and creating a thriving and vibrant performing arts industry across the region. More details of the line-up will be announced soon. With a little something for everyone, they invite everyone to come and raise a glass to toast the history and heritage as well as the bright future of performing arts in Dumfries & Galloway.

The team will also be working with I Am Loud to offer a workshop in Spoken Word at The Stove and a participatory workshop with Shona Cowie in Kirkcudbright and Eskdalemuir about her show With the Devil’s Assistance that blends gentle yet impactful creative exercises and structured collective discussions, to explore shared narratives of our public spaces.

The Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival have also teamed up with UP YER AIRTS, a groundbreaking initiative empowering young people to curate vibrant cultural events and refine their craft as arts and creative industry professionals in Dumfries and Galloway.  An organisation led by young people, they are out to push the boundaries of what is possible for our region. The team at UP YER AIRTS will be putting on a gig with three great bands appearing only at the newly reopened Loreburn Hall, Dumfries with Valtos supported by Dlù & Tiderays.

We are so excited about the 2024 Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival, you should be too. With a huge range of events and venues across the region, we hope that you will find something that you love.