This year’s Wigtown Book Festival aims to be an event for every age and interest – using digital technology to make it more accessible than ever before.

It features Wigtown YA, the UK’s largest YA literature festival, which sees some of the best young adult authors around taking part in free online discussions.

Among them are:

  • Dean Atta author and co-director of Scottish BAME Writers Network, talking about his powerful coming of age story and Stonewall Book Award winner The Black Flamingo.  
  • Queen of Teen and 2020 YA Book Award winner Juno Dawson who discusses her latest title, Wonderland.
  • Dara McAnulty winner of the 2020 Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing for his debut book The Diary of a Young Naturalist – the remarkable memoir of an autistic teenager’s connection to the natural world. 
  • Nicola Yoon, two-time New York Times number one best seller, who will discuss her novels Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star
  • Carnegie Medal nominee and Costa Book Award winner Frances Hardinge will talk about her latest book Deeplight, set in the Myriad, a collection of islands where the gods are as real as the coastlines and as merciless as the whirlpools. 

Wigtown YA has been programmed and by six young volunteers, aged 14-25, and is led by Andy Stewart, who volunteered for several years before being employed as Wigtown Festival Company’s Young People’s Co-Ordinator.

Andy said: “Our digital programme aims to showcase the welcoming and accessible nature of our usual physical YA programme, and maybe even share it with a wider audience because this year it all has to be online. 

“This year’s Wigtown YA programme has been curated with themes of resilience, diversity and looking to the future very much in mind.

“It features some of most well-known YA authors of the last decade, and we hope that it will appeal to an intergenerational audience.”

In order to broaden accessibility there will be StageTEXT subtitles for some live events including Rosemary Goring’s Magnusson Lecture The Afterlife of Mary Queen of Scots and Colum McCann’s discussion of his book Apeirogon as well as the presentation of the annual international Wigtown Poetry Prize.

Big Wig also returns, offering a wide range of events and activities for children – some of them highly interactive. Authors Renita Boyle and Vivian French, along with illustrator Shoo Raynor, will take on the challenge of creating and illustrating a story about Wigtown in just 60 minutes.

The audience is invited to join in as storyteller Ailie Finlay presents The Bookshop Brownie – the tale of a tiny man who used to live under the stairs in Wigtown’s bookshops.

There will also be events with Evernight author Ross MacKenzie. Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar will present their heart-warming picture book While We Can’t Hug which is full of ideas for children about how to show affection while social distancing.

Anne Barclay, Wigtown Book Festival operational director, said: “We want Wigtown to be a festival for everyone, so we are trying to make the most of digital technology. One advantage is that you don’t even have to be in Wigtown to hear readings, take part in discussions or enjoy interactive events.

“Another is that events will be available online for at least a month, so people can enjoy them anytime – whether it’s live in the living room or in their pyjamas over breakfast.”

The Wigtown Festival Company has also been awarded £5,000 from the Scottish Children’s Lottery to support its work with young readers.  

The grant is part of Chance to Connect which supports projects working in the areas of community development and citizenship, giving young people across Scotland the chance to live in a safe, supportive and stimulating community.

Ken Barclay, Chair of Trustees for the Scottish Children’s Lottery, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to provide funding to Wigtown Festival Company from the monies generated from the Scottish Children’s Lottery which was established to promote and support the development and potential of children and young people in Scotland.”

Wigtown Festival Company would also like to thank the Holywood Trust for its support of Wigtown YA and Baillie Gifford for supporting the Big Wig children’s programme.

  • This year’s Wigtown Book Festival runs from 24 September to 4 October. Events are free but donations are requested as part of a £20,000 fundraising drive to assure its future.
  • For full details see www.wigtownbookfestival.com

– Ends –

Picture of Andy Stewart by Colin Hattersley.

About this year’s festival

Among the speakers taking part are:

  • Novelists AL Kennedy, Andrew O’Hagan, Juno Dawson, Stuart Turton and Philip Hensher.
  • Broadcasters Andrew Marr, Carrie Gracie, George Alagiah and Gordon Corera
  • Historians Neil McGregor and Charles Spencer
  • Nature writers Helen Macdonald, Dara McAnulty and Patrick Laurie.
  • Non-fiction writers Mark O’Connell, Richard Holloway and Helena Kennedy
  • Poets Michael Longley, Dean Atta and Inua Ellams
  • World Book Day children’s authors Pamela Butchart and Sibeal Pounder.

The annual Magnusson Lecture (in honour of Magnus Magnusson and introduced by his daughter, the broadcaster Sally Magnusson) will be delivered by Rosemary Goring.

Wigtown Book Festival is generously supported by funders including Dumfries & Galloway Council, EventScotland and Dumfries & Galloway Council, with support from the investment company Baillie Gifford and from Holywood Trust, which supports the children’s and young people’s programmes. NatureScot is also supporting a series of events at the festival as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters.

About the Scottish Children’s Lottery

  • The Scottish Children’s Lottery was launched in October 2016 to raise money for children in Scotland, with proceeds helping to improve the lives of children right across the country and make a real difference to those who need it most.
  • Chance to Connect operates as a society lottery under the Scottish Children’s Lottery and supports projects working in the areas of community development and citizenship, giving young people across Scotland the chance to live in a safe, supportive and stimulating community.

About EventScotland  

EventScotland is working to make Scotland the perfect stage for events. By developing an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events EventScotland is helping to raise Scotland’s international profile and boost the economy by attracting more visitors. For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit www.EventScotland.org. Follow EventScotland on Twitter @EventScotNews

EventScotland is a team within VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, the national tourism organisation which markets Scotland as a tourism destination across the world, gives support to the tourism industry and brings sustainable tourism growth to Scotland. For more information about VisitScotland see www.visitscotland.org or for consumer information on Scotland as a visitor destination see www.visitscotland.com

About Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here.  We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life.  We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit www.creativescotland.com.  Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland.

For further information and interview requests contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or Matthew@ScottishFestivalsPR.Org  

Wigtown Festival Company Ltd, 11 North Main Street, Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, UK, DG8 9HN © 1999 – 2018. Wigtown Festival Company Ltd is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. Scottish Charity No. SCO37984.