Wigtown book festival grabs technology 'lifeline'

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Wigtown FestivalImage source, Colin Hattersley
Image caption,
This year's event is being held online and hopes to help promote local businesses

More than 80 guests will take part in Scotland's book town's annual festival after it moved online.

Wigtown Book Festival director Adrian Turpin said digital technology had proved a "lifeline" during lockdown.

This year's programme - which has just been launched - includes Andrew Marr, AL Kennedy and Carrie Gracie.

Mr Turpin said they hoped they would be able to welcome many people "in person" in 2021 after they got a taste of the festival online this year.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Carrie Gracie is among those taking part in the online festival

A key aim of this year's event is to promote local businesses which have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and will not benefit from an influx of festival goers this time around.

Organisers also want audiences to be able to enjoy the "quirkiness, charm and atmosphere" of Wigtown, which is home to more than a dozen book shops.

The festival, which runs from 24 September to 4 October, includes:

  • Sound artist Stuart McLean recording the sounds of Wigtown for a "slow audio" experience
  • A limited edition of 100 bottles of the "aromatic air" from local bookshops
  • An online whisky tasting from the Bladnoch Distillery
  • Video feeds from some of the town's bookshops

Mr Turpin said: "Digital technology has been a lifeline during lockdown.

"But, as anyone who has sat through a morning of Zoom meetings knows, the online world can feel very disembodied.

"Wigtown is a distinctive place and we want to share its character with new and existing audiences in every way we can, putting the town in the public eye, nose and ear."

Image caption,
Andrew Marr said he hoped to visit Wigtown in person in future

Andrew Marr will be one of those involved this year, discussing his forthcoming book Elizabethans: How Modern Britain Was Forged.

"I've always wanted to go to the Wigtown Book Festival and I am delighted to be taking part, albeit virtually, and look forward to going there in person one day," he said.

In addition to dozens of events, the festival will also see the winner of the annual Wigtown poetry prize announced.

The full programme for the festival can be found on its website.

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