Established as a Royal Burgh since the 13 century, Kirkcudbright is a quaint little town on the River Dee. With a thriving artistic community with painters and handcrafters settling here over many centuries, the town has made a name for itself as the Artist’s Town of Scotland.
Over the past 40 years, Kirkcudbright’s Summer Festivities have become a popular annual event that has drawn people from across the country and indeed the world. Starting with an arts and crafts trail in early August, there’s a full programme of activities that will keep visits occupied throughout the summer months.
Arts and crafts trail
The 2012 Arts and Crafts Trail saw the event in its ninth year and grown bigger and better than ever. With 80 venues across Kirkcudbright and over 200 participants contributing artwork and hand-crafted items, the trail began on 28th July with a silent auction where pieces from a range of artists are put on display for individuals and art collectors to view and place bids above the reserve price. For the duration of the auction, the auction pieces were displayed in the Lesser Hall Meeting Room for visitors to view.
Throughout the main weekend of the Arts and Crafts Trail from 2nd to 6th August, visitors to Kirkcudbright could enjoy an unrivalled view of the Artist’s Town. Painters, metalworkers, jewellery-makers, potters, toymakers and more across the town open their personal studios, many in their own homes, for visitors to see them in action in their own environment. Throughout the weekend, participants offer visitors the chance to see demonstrations and get hands-on with a number of events.
From the Information Stage located on Harbour Square, arts and crafts enthusiasts are able to find out about events taking place across the weekend in over 60 venues. There’s also the opportunity to see some of the private gardens, workshops and studios around the town from the free “Trail Bus” that ferries visitors from venue to venue.
Even if you missed the Arts and Crafts Trail, there are plenty of opportunities through the summer to enjoy the creativity of Kirkcudbright’s talented residents. The Harbour Cottage Gallery and Town Hall have exhibitions from local painters throughout the summer, featuring beautiful pieces from artists past and present.
Between 1850 and 1950, the town had its own well-known artists’ colony known as the Kirkcudbright School, who were attracted to the town by the quality of the light. The Town Hall’s “Gifted” exhibition celebrates a number of artists from this school, including several by the late William Brown Kirkpatrick focusing on his fine landscape paintings, many of which are inspired by the scenery around Kirkcudbright.
The Harbour Gallery’s Summer Exhibition features work from contemporary artists from the Kirkcudbright area, many of which are offered for sale. The Gallery’s location on the harbour side is a beautiful setting for a collection of fantastic paintings that will change as patrons choose to take away artworks available for immediate sale.
A Traditional Scottish Tattoo
The month of August ends in Kirkcudbright with a traditional tattoo, featuring Celtic dancers from Scotland and Ireland, wind-bands and bagpipers to lead a traditional troupe.
After a night of band music, dancing and parades, the evening culminates in a fabulous firework display set to music over Kirkcudbright harbour. The event is always popular, so make sure you book your accommodation in plenty of time to ensure you don’t miss this spectacular evening of Scottish culture.
A summer in Scotland might not be the first place many would think of for a scenic and interesting break. However, with a packed programme of events and some fantastic creativity on display, the pretty town of Kirkcudbright’s Summer Festivities offer plenty to keep you interested and inspired.