The 21st annual Wigtown Book Festival is set to welcome a rich variety of writers, broadcasters and others – and is unveiling new attractions like the Wigtown Feasts.

Among those taking part this year are Kirtsy Wark, Arabella Weir, Kerry Hudson, Sinead Gleeson, Kathleen Jamie, Doddie Weir, Carol Drinkwater, Nathan Filer, Steve Jones, Ruth Davidson MSP, Geoffrey Roberston QC, Tom Devine, Melanie Reid, Eunice Olumide and Matthew Parris.

They will be joined by the likes of wine mogul Tony Laithwaite, author and illustrator Jackie Morris and Wigtown’s own best-selling author Shaun Bythell who is publishing a new set of his bestselling diaries, called Confessions of a Bookseller.

At the same time the festival is giving away thousands of free tickets for under-26s in its ongoing work to promote a love of literature and creativity among young people.

Taking place from 27 September to 6 October the festival will offer more than 275 events for adults and children, including debates music, film, visual arts, theatre and food. 

This year it explores a number of key themes. It will look north to the epics of the Atlantic seaboard and Nordic regions. It will also have a series of events under the banner of Lost Province, which will dig deep into Galloway’s ancient past. 

With 2019 being the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages, the festival will celebrate the power of conversation and will celebrate the country’s three native languages – English, Gaelic and Scots. 

The brand new Wigtown Feasts, in association with A Year of Conversation, will involve a series of simultaneous suppers in houses across the town in order to give visitors, festival guests and residents that chance to mix, chat, dine and gain new perspectives.

Adrian Turpin, Artistic Director of Wigtown Book Festival, said: “This year’s festival will bring some of the most exciting voices from literature, politics, entertainment, journalism and science to Scotland’s National Book Town.

“Our 21stanniversary events will offer 10 days of fascinating talks, movies, shows and other events for adults, young people and children to enjoy. Some will be challenging others inspirational and some sheer fun.

“The new Wigtown Feasts will be a key element. What better way to welcome visitors from afar than to invite them to break bread with people from the town?” 

This children’s festival Big Wig, continues to grow, and will begin with a party celebrating of the 50thanniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

For the first time the line-up for young people’s festival, under the new name of WigWAM, has been integrated into the main programme. The events are open to all ages but free to anyone under 26.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said: “The Wigtown Book Festival is one of the UK’s best-loved literary events and EventScotland is delighted to be continuing its support of the festival through its Beacon Programme. Events play a key role in our visitor economy, attracting visitors from far and wide. This year’s festival has another stellar line-up of speakers as well as new attractions that are sure to once again draw in the crowds.”

Councillor Adam Wilson, the Council’s Events Champion, said: “The book festival is able to showcase Galloway in an uplifting, natural way, and charm many thousands of visitors each year. It fits perfectly with the more rewarding pace of life in this picturesque corner of South West Scotland, and provides a timely economic boost for the bookshops who have done so much to support the regeneration of the town.”

Some of this year’s guests

  • Kirsty Wark, bestselling author and one of the most trusted names in British news will be talking about The House by the Loch, inspired by her own childhood memories and set in rural Galloway.
  • Ruth Davidson became Scottish Conservative Party leader in 2011, just six months after becoming an MSP. She discusses her book Yes She Canwhich combines the story of her own rise with her conversations with 17 mould-breaking women in fields as diverse as science, politics, the military, business and sport. 
  • Legendary barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC will spill the beans in a talk about his entertaining memoir Rather His Own Man, recalling his battles on behalf of everyone from George Harrison and the Sex Pistols to Salman Rushdie and Julian Assange.
  • Melanie Reid, who was paralysed from the top of her chest down after falling from a horse, talks about The World I Fell Out Of, a powerful account of how she rebuilt her life.
  • Matthew Parris looks ahead to his forthcoming work Fractured, which draws on his Radio 4 series Great Lives to consider whether genius comes from the wreckage of a fractured childhood – considering eminent figures from Freddie Mercury to Marie Curie. 
  • Scottish rugby legend Doddie Weir will be a particular highlight as he discusses a remarkable sporting career and his campaigning for motor neurone disease research.
  • Kathleen Jamie, winner of the Saltire Book of the Year and the Costa Award for Poetry, talks about her new book Surfacing which blends memoir, cultural history and travelogue, exploring how the changing natural world alters our sense of time. 
  • The mother of all confessional shows from the bestselling author and star of The Fast Show and Two Doors DownArabella WeirDoes My Mum Loom Big in This? is for everyone who’s had a mother or been a mother, featuring hair-raising hilarious true stories from Arabella’s dysfunctional childhood and her life as a single working mother.
  • Carol Drinkwater became a household name as Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small. Her “Olive” memoirs sold more than a million copies and have been followed by a series of epic novels. They latest is The House on the Edge of the Cliff
  • Nathan Filer, former mental health, won the Costa Book of the Year Award for his bestselling debut novel The Shock of the Fallabout a young man with schizophrenia. In his non-fiction work A Breath on Dying Embers he returns to the subject, debunking myths.   
  • Steve Jones, one of the UK’s best-known scientists, shows how life on Earth is ruled by our nearest star which nourishes and destroys all life. Here Comes the Sundazzlingly links science, politics and culture. Steve is a Senior Research Fellow at University College London. 
  • Historian Tom Devine speaks on The ‘Death’ and Reinvention of Scotland. By the late 18th century Scotland was prospering in the Union. But some believed this came at a cost: Anglicisation and the end of an ancient identity. Sir Tom looks at this “crisis” and reaches surprising conclusions. 
  • Eunice Olumide was signed to the catwalk when she was just 16. Since then she has worked all over the world for designers including Mulberry, Alexander McQueen and Harris Tweed, as well as collaborating with the V&A. Along the way, she has championed diversity and stood up for ethical fashion. In How to Get Into Fashionshe talks about a remarkable career. 
  • In the 1960s Tony Laithwaite, a student from Bolton, took a job washing bottles in Bordeaux. So began a 50-year affair with wine. His wonderfully engaging memoir Direct is a love letter to France and the grape, and the wonderful characters he met on his unlikely journey to becoming Britain’s most successful wine merchant. 
  • When Jackie Morris heard about the removal of words such as kingfisher, bramble, and acorn from a junior dictionary, she had to act. The result was The Lost Words, her award-winning, beautiful collaboration with Robert Macfarlane. She talks about our relationship to the natural world under threat, a subject she has also written about in the introduction to the lost childhood classic The House Without Windows
  • Shaun Bythell runs The Bookshop in Wigtown. It should be an idyll for bookworms. Unfortunately, Shaun also has to contend with bizarre requests from people who don’t understand what a shop is, home invasions during the Wigtown Book Festival, and his neurotic Italian assistant who likes digging for river mud to make poultices. He tells
  • all about his new set of bestselling diaries.

For full details of Wigtown Book Festival go to

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

Photos are available from this DropBox or on request

Festival themes

Epic North: A short strand that takes a fresh look at Northern European epics, from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Finland and Scandinavia. Sessions include discussions of a key passage of the text. Book them all for a serious discount. 

This Farming Life: A series of events on the life agricultural, including the Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen and three of Galloway’s finest farmer-writers. Plus put your wellies on and see behind the scenes on inspiring visits to three very different farms. 

Lost Province: The story of Galloway is written in its place names, which reveal an extraordinary variety of languages: Gaelic, Anglo-Saxon, Scots, Norse and Cumbric, the Brittonic language closely related to Old Welsh. The Lost Province celebrates the region’s past as a melting pot, through new writing, translation, illustration, speaker events and even an archaeological survey. 

A Year of Conversation: Wigtown Book Festival is part of A Year of Conversation 2019, a Scotland-wide collaborative project about the potential for conversation to make our lives better. Events include The Wigtown Feasts, a town-wide invitation to eat together. 

Bookspired: A mini film festival within WBF19, supported by Screen Scotland, where cinema and books meet. Films include 1984The Snow Goose and Angelou on Burns, Elly M Taylor’s remarkable documentary about Maya Angelou’s fascination with Scotland’s national bard. In association with Driftwood Cinema.

Year of Indigenous Languages: In the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages, we celebrate Scotland’s own. Activities include two days of drop- in Gaelic events and the relaunch of Wigtown’s Scots and Gaelic poetry prizes. We also ask why minority languages matter and welcome Celtic cousins from Galicia. 

Out and About

From brewery tours to birding, cycling to botany, we encourage visitors to make the most of a trip to the festival by getting out of Wigtown and seeing some of the many other attractions that make Galloway special. We even provide ride shares. 

For younger visitors

  • WigWAM is the new name for our young people’s festival, programmed and run by a dedicated team of volunteers aged 13-25. For the first time this year, you will find WigWAM events in our main listings. And they are open to all ages – but free for under 26s. 
  • Big Wig will offer lots of fun and inspiring events for our youngest festival goers – starting off with a Caterpillar Party to celebrate the 50thanniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

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 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 or for consumer information on Scotland as a visitor destination see