The Big Burns Supper is celebrating a huge success as three days of festivities around the bard’s birthday come to a close.
The event, which is a key part of the 2014 Year of Homecoming, saw a series of famous name and locally created shows selling out. The 1,000-lantern Homecoming Carnival, which wound through the streets of Dumfries on Saturday evening, drew large crowds to watch the parade of 2,000 performers, dancers and musicians along with floats and huge puppets.
Graham Main, Big Burns Supper director, said: “The festival has gone brilliantly. What’s really blown me away is that it’s not just the household names like Fred MacAulay and Big Country that have sold out, but also our own home-grown alternative productions.
“We have had capacity audiences for everything from our Hamish the Haggis children’s shows through to the Le Haggis Burlesque Burns Suppers – which had a fun and sauciness Burns would have loved.
“We are already starting to look ahead at how we can make Big Burns Supper 2015 better still. What I think we have proved, with three years of Big Burns Suppers, is that Scotland’s Burns Night celebrations have huge potential. They can become a really important and eagerly anticipated part of Scotland’s rich cycle of public cultural events and festivals.
"The development of a New Performance Venue, showcasing original work by emerging writers and performers from Dumfries and Galloway, has been a particular success. Among the productions attracting attention was a one-woman show by 19-year-old Jordan Chisholm called Jordan, Herself and ID – a raw autobiographical exploration of what it is like coming from a family with mental health issues and the fear that they could be hereditary.
It is hoped that BBS will act as a launchpad for the region’s young performers and writers, with some shows going on to be performed at other events around the country. There have also been big audiences for the comedy shows that included Alan Anderson’s highly rated Whisky for Dafties and The Best of Scottish Comedian of the Year. The festival has also included 12 pop up pieces of public art all around the town, such as Occupy Dumfries, which invited young people to put on performances about what life in the capital of the south west was like in the past.
Robert Burns lived in Dumfries when he was at the height of his powers. The area inspired some of his greatest work and he loved the social life of the town. BBS 2014 is a community-based event which involves a host of groups and individuals from around Dumfries and has rapidly built up a reputation offering a great atmosphere and giving a real boost in the lull after Hogmanay. With Dumfries being in easy reach of the Central Belt and northern England, BBS attracts visitors from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Carlisle and many other places.
The festival is made possible by support from many organisations including Creative Scotland, Homecoming Scotland, The Hollywood Trust, Winter Festivals Burns Night, 8020 and Dumfries and Galloway Council.
• Around 125 shows, events and performances
• Three days and nights of celebrations
• A projected 7,000 people attended paid-for vents with many thousands more enjoying the carnival and a host of free events
• Overall audiences reaching a highly impressive 85% of capacity at paid-for shows
• The procession took nearly an hour
• Around 2,000 people took part
• There were 800-1,000 lanterns – most made by local residents
• Five lanterns were specially commissioned from local artists
• Ideas for the costumes came from local school pupils and include dragons, owls, horses, stars, golden rings, poppies, soldiers and nurses.
• There were five decorated floats two with large interactive puppets
• Live music was provided by six pipe and samba bands.