An illuminated 18-foot wicker horse, a lantern parade, artworks, classical music and beautiful designs beamed onto historic buildings – all will feature in the Kirkcudbright Festival of Light.
The south-west Scottish town – known as Scotland’s artists’ town – is making the final preparations for a 10-day celebration of the remarkable quality of its light, which for centuries has attracted artists to settle and work there.
Running from 5-14 October the festival will see the medieval castle, the Tolbooth and other prominent places lit up and there will be street installations and delightful displays in passageways and windows.
Colin Saul, one of the festival organisers, said: ‘It’s going to be a real treat – a magical chance to quite literally see the town in a new light.
‘We are just putting the finishing touches to everything and are looking forward to welcoming visitors and residents to all the events we have organised, and to enjoy just wandering about admiring the illuminations and displays.’
The wicker horse, created by renowned artists Alex Rigg and Trevor Leat, will be one of the most striking attractions – towering over visitors Harbour Square.
The festival is bookended by an international programme and will open with recitals by Emma Morwood and Jonathan Fisher, while concluding with a concert by the Scottish Ensemble. Both events will be on the theme of light.
There will also be workshops by Scottish ballet. One is for students at Kirkcudbright Academy and the other is for the general public and takes place at Cochran Hall.
Sally Hobson, former head of creative learning for the Edinburgh International Festival has curated the international programme.
She said: ‘There’s a real buzz as the festival draws close – people are excited at the chance to enjoy performances by some truly wonderful international performers as part of a festival celebrating the light which makes Kirkcudbright so special.’
The new Kirkcudbright Galleries, which opened earlier this year, will play an important role in the festival. They will be hosting Illumphonium, a dynamic and interactive multi-sensory music-making installation and will also display a specially commissioned glass sculpture inspired by Kirkcudbright’s light and its coastal heritage.
The festival, which is supported by Dumfries and Galloway Council, also promises craft workshops, a Diwali celebration, fireworks and a 60s and 70s night called Trip the Light Fantastic.
Free family workshops are being held this weekend where people can make their own lanterns for the following weekend’s parade and fairy doors to be displayed in Soaperie Gardens in the centre of the town.
These take place at the Parish Hall on Saturday, 6 October 1-5pm and Sunday, 7 October 10am-4pm.
Three colourful and quirky harbour beach huts, which are part of the Kirkcudbright Art and Crafts Trail, have each been turned into a miniature world: the smallest ever opera house (complete with piano), a writer’s retreat and a section of a WWI trench.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of events, said: ‘The Kirkcudbright Festival of Light is set to be a fantastic spectacle, attracting visitors from near and far to the picturesque coastal town.
‘Scotland is the perfect stage for cultural events, and with its stunning illuminations, sculptures and artistic displays on offer, as well as fantastic international programme featuring music from Emma Morwood and the Scottish Ensemble, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the festival this autumn.’
These days the area is not only valued for its light – but its darkness as well.
The Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park has one of the lowest levels of light pollution in the country – making it possible to see more than 7000 stars with the naked eye.
One of the festival’s attractions will be a mobile planetarium that will give visitors an idea of what is visible in the heavens.
For the full programme see http://www.kirkcudbrightlight.com.