Festival where Biggar is better

Elaine C Smith.
Elaine C Smith.

There’s an arts Festival in Edinburgh during August that’s in a league of its own when it comes to crowds, queues and (it’s sometimes argued) exorbitant room rental prices – and it attracts people from all over the world.

But it will never be able to claim it’s “boutique”, “niche” or even “local” – because in many ways the capital is a mere backdrop for a phone book-thick catalogue of acts from all over the planet.

Very different is the offer at the small but perfectly formed Biggar Little Festival next month (October 15 to 25), where the talents of local artistes are celebrated along with those of household name acts – and where in many ways the town itself is the star of the show.

Headline acts this year include Elaine C Smith. comedienne and political activist, who will be bringing her new one-woman show to Biggar.

It’s descriebd as a brilliant mix of intelligent stand-up, storytelling and music adapted from her recent TV success A Burdz Eye View”.

By contrast there’s an exhibition in Crawfordjohn Heritage Museum to recognise the wealth of musical talent originating from the small community of Crawfordjohn – where, for example, local musician Steven Johnstone has composed some original pieces of music and recorded them to CD along with seven other talented artists.

Then there’s a rare chance to meet three of the best-known names in Scottish crime fiction – Lin Abnderson, Alex Gray and Alanna Wright.

They’ll be reading from their latest books and discussing how they get into the dark mindset of the characters who perpetrate homicidal mayhem in their pages.

Meanwhile one of the hit acts from that slightly larger Edinburgh Festival will be making a star appearance in MacBraveheart – “the other Scottish play” – which blends together historical drama with current political satire.

After consuming a well-known fortified wine brand William Wallace, against the advice of his friend Robert Burns, is persuaded by a witch to murder Robert the Bruce - before he can name “The Salmond” as his successor.

There are loads of Festival events for children and families, great music nights, and – as with an afternoon tea party with acclaimed Scottish food writer and journalist Sue Lawrence – plenty of good food and drink too.

Full programme details are on the festival’s website at http://www.biggar-little-festival.com