The Festival of Folklore returns to its spiritual heartland of Upper Nithsdale today, with an intriguing blend of live and online events. Award-winning storytellers and Festival founders, Mostly Ghostly, are delighted to announce their third Festival of Folklore will run from Thursday 23rd – Sunday 26th September. The team are excited to be presenting a series of events based in Sanquhar, and following the international success of the 2020 digital format, are keen to raise awareness of the Festival online, reaching out to guests across the globe, to immerse them in Upper Nithsdale’s mythical landscapes and fascinating folklore.
The Festival will officially launch with a world premiere exhibition by local artist, Duncan Brown, entitled: The Life of Robert Burns. The exhibition features an incredible 120 paintings, charting the life of Scotland’s National Bard, and will be hosted by A’ the Airts Community Arts Centre, running till the end of October.
Team and Festival Founder Kathleen Cronie tells us more:
“We're over the moon to be collaborating with our colleagues from the Upper Nithsdale Tourism Partnership on this, the Festival’s third incarnation. The ethos of the Festival has always been about community, togetherness and connecting people to the area’s rich history and legends, and the wider region of Dumfries and Galloway. We can’t wait to welcome people to Upper Nithsdale, both in-person and virtually, to experience its many wonders.”
Sharing her thoughts on the Robert Burns exhibition, Kathleen enthused:
“It’s an honour to welcome Duncan and his Burns exhibition to the Festival. There is a wealth of Burns lore to be enjoyed and researched, and of course, some of his greatest work was inspired by folklore and the supernatural. It feels incredibly fitting to present Duncan’s work at the Festival, where guests can see the many faces of the Bard brought to life, by Duncan’s skill and passion.”
Mostly Ghostly, who specialise in exploring the darker, more curious side of history, have been working closely with the Upper Nithsdale Tourism Partnership for over three years. The Festival launched back in 2019 and enjoyed a resounding success, welcoming guests to experience the area’s rich tapestry of history and folklore. In spite of the ever-changing landscape of Covid-19, it evolved in 2020,to take on a new digital look, delivering a
stimulating programme of music, presentations, art and storytelling, reaching guests as far afield as Israel, Australia, the USA and Brazil. Now, the team hope to build on their successes and lay the foundations on the run up to Scotland’s Year of Stories in 2022.
As always, there will be strong emphasis on community collaboration, which lies at the heart of the Festival, and the team aim to showcase some of the region’s melting pot of talent and knowledge, inspiring potential visitors from all the over the world to discover more.
This year’s events comprise subjects as varied as: the origins of local place names, a trysting place for Napoleonic soldiers of war and their lovers, and the folklore of animals and nature. Guests are invited to awaken their senses and discover some of Scotland’s rich storytelling heritage.
Team Member and Festival Co-Founder John Hill whets our appetites:
“It’s really exciting to be welcoming both new and familiar friends to the Festival, and amidst the ongoing challenges, we’re proud to have pulled together a programme exploring many wide-ranging subjects. Highlights include: Dr. Valentina Bold’s presentation Swords in Stories, linked with the infamous Border Reiver Kinmount Willie Armstrong; Dr Peter Hewitt uncovers new research in his Unholy Wells and Springs of Dumfries and Galloway, and Tom Hughes’ Thunder Stones and Witch Bottles reveals how people protected their homes from threat. It’s also with great joy, we announce the return of dynamic duo Heather Kate Molloy and our very own Old Mother Mary, with a live performance of accessible, multisensory story – The Sanquhar Fairies – at the town’s enchanting Duck Pond.
Marketing consultant, Lorna Young, who has been supporting the Upper Nithsdale Tourism Partnership, said:
“It’s been a really challenging year for lots of events and festival organisers, so it’s fantastic to see the Festival of Folklore taking place. Mostly Ghostly and the Upper Nithsdale Tourism Partnership have pulled out all the stops to create an engaging and diverse programme that showcases the rich cultural heritage of these communities. With everything from fairies, witches and swords, to the origin of local place names and paintings depicting the life of Robert Burns; the stories that are woven into the history of Upper Nithsdale are really fascinating.”
Summing up, Kathleen said:
“We’re so excited to be welcoming guests to the Festival of Folklore: folklore is woven into the very fabric of Scotland’s rich historical and cultural identity, and here in Dumfries and Galloway, we are blessed with an abundance of curious tales, customs, traditions and supernatural beings! The atmospheric beauty of Upper Nithsdale lend itself perfectly to the proud tradition of storytelling, and at every turn there is something to inspire imaginations – where better to host this event! We work hard to promote our region and are delighted to work with people who share the same passion to see it thrive. We hope our Festival will draw visitors from all over, and will continue to establish it as a destination event in D&G’s colourful regional events calendar. This is one you simply can’t miss!”