Tickets have been released today (Monday April 13) for a popular festival which will enable audiences of all ages to experience the joy and inspiration of books, music, film, science, food, history, nature, sport and more in the glorious setting of Old Aberdeen.
The May Festival, organised by the University of Aberdeen, will return from May 29 to 31. In 2014 it attracted more than 9,500 visitors and this year it will encompass a greater range of topics and areas of interest than ever before.
The Festival will take audiences on a journey of discovery where they can hear exciting journeys to the top from adventurer Matt Dickinson, one of only a handful of British climbers to scale Everest’s north summit, former Newsnight host and journalist Gavin Esler who will draw on his experiences of interviewing the world’s most powerful people, and Patrick Miley, coach and father of one of Scotland’s most successful swimmers, Hannah Miley.
Now in its third year, the Festival builds on the success of the Word Festival and literary events will once again be at its heart with acclaimed writer Michel Faber, whose novel The Crimson Petal and White was dramatised for TV, and award-winner David Mitchell who has twice been listed for the Booker Prize and whose novel Cloud Atlas was adapted for a film starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. There will also be a session dedicated to the poetry of the late Iain Banks hosted by his good friend and novelist Ken Macleod and an event celebrating Scottish urban myths and legends with storytellers Sheena Blackhall and Grace Banks.
Tales of a different kind will be shared by Matt Lewis, now an award-winning novelist, who will recount his extraordinary story of survival at sea following the sinking of a boat where 17 of the crew were lost, and producer Oggy Boytchev who will detail what it is like to work with journalists including the BBC’s John Simpson in war-zones around the world.
Film and music will once again feature strongly with Notting Hill director Roger Michell explaining what it’s like to work with stars including Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant and performances from the internationally-renowned Edinburgh Quartet and PJ Moore of the band Blue Nile.
There will be a strong Scottish flavour running throughout the Festival with ‘Fiddle at Sea’ exploring the importance of music among Scottish sailors, and a look at the poet W.B Yeats in Scotland.
The country’s culinary delights will be showcased with a dedicated strand supported as part of the Year of Food and Drink 2015, an initiative led by EventScotland and VisitScotland, which will see nutritionists team up with the Kilted Chef Craig Wilson to create delicious healthy meals, a wild food forage, a produce market and a whisky tasting.
The Festival will also cover major current issues with a debate on the future of the NHS hosted by BBC health correspondent Eleanor Bradford, expert analysis on Scotland in the wake of the General Election, a discussion on how we can feed an ever-growing population and a look at the future of sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa.
For those wanting to get hands-on there will be a fun session to help crafters of all abilities knit their own ‘Broons’, a ‘farm to fork’ cookery demonstration and an introduction to Scottish step dancing.
Many events in the programme are free or low-cost and there will be a host of drop-in sessions as well as entertainment around King’s College campus and walking tours around Old Aberdeen, the Cruickshank Gardens and Aberdeen Sports Village.
In addition to the main Festival programme, the free Marathon Oil Children’s Festival will run throughout Saturday and Sunday (May 30 and 31) with events to inspire young minds ranging from a campfire party to an animal roadshow and rap and street poetry workshops.
Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor University of Aberdeen, said: “For 2015, May Festival is about discovery – audiences can discover more about their world, history, science, culture and current issues.
“It is also a chance to discover more about the University and the role it plays in discovery, as well as your own individual potential.
“Many events will be hands-on or run on a drop-in basis to allow people to get a flavour of many different areas of interest.
“We really will have something for everyone from literature, music and film to science, the environment, sport, food and drink and current affairs – and we’ll even host some in Gaelic. It is the Aberdeen festival catering for all.”
Tickets for all events can be booked from today (Monday April 13) by visiting www.abdn.ac.uk/mayfestival or through the Aberdeen Box Office on 01224 641122.
Image: Donnie Scott (10) discovers King’s College campus which will host the May Festival