Wild Goose Festival: Creative arts festival returns to Dumfries for a second year to celebrate nature ahead of COP26

The Wild Goose Festival has returned to Dumfries for a second year to unite art, literature and culture through a series of creative activities celebrating the return of 53,000 geese to the region.

The week-long festival launched yesterday with a special event named the ‘Wild Goose Craic’ and will draw to a close on Saturday, October 23.

The launch evening featured a reading from renowned storyteller Ruth Kilpatrick, as well as music from local musicians Bogle Mufty.

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The festival – produced by the Stove Network – is designed to enhance and highlight our connection with nature and the environment by celebrating the immense journey undertaken by 53,000 Barnacle Geese as they migrate between Svalbard and the Solway Estuary.

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The focus on how humans interact with the natural world comes this year at a particularly poignant time as Glasgow prepares to welcome thousands of people to the COP26 climate summit..

Speaking ahead of the festival launch, one of the lead organisers – or ‘Lead Goose’ – Tom Pow, said he imagined the 53,000 geese this year to be the delegates arriving from the Arctic, bringing with them messages on climate change.

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Mr Pow said: “This festival is first and foremost a celebration of the geese, of the joy they bring to all of us here who have had the pleasure of watching them fly over the town over the years, they really are quite a special part of Dumfries.

"The migration is a regular, natural, rhythmic event and we are celebrating it and using it as something that melds all these other activities together allowing us to look at nature and to make creative responses to it.”

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The Wild Goose Festival is running from October 16 to October 23, 2021. (Picture credit: Kirstin McEwan Photography)

The week forms part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival and is supported by Dumfries and Galloway council, as well as a number of organisations including NatureScot, RSPB, Wigtown Festival Company and Visit Scotland.

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There are dozens of events on the 2021 programme – all of which are free and can be found on the Wild Goose Festival Website – from storytelling and workshops to nature walks and geese demonstrations.

On Monday, the Wild Goose Festival Hub, found on Dumfries High Street, will be hosting a series of workshops including one taken by Freelance Ranger, Elizabeth Tindal, on the importance of a bird’s feathers, while another offers the chance to make string art inspired by the journey thousands of geese make every year.

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Mr Pow continued: "We’ll also be looking at the bigger picture in Covid times. What is our relationship to the environment now? In what way has it changed in the pandemic? What should our relationship with nature be going forward?

The Fairground Walkabout event from the 2020 Wild Goose Festival. (Picture credit: Kirstin McEwan Photography)
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"All of these are so important and I think the most wonderful thing about the festival is that it allows us to explore them in such a creative way.

“We’re a huge collective of people weaving together all our creative talents for this big celebration, it’s really something special, and the geese are guiding us.”

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The final day will feature two nature walks – both BSL interpreted – and will conclude with a “multi-sensory experience” developed by Creative Spaces, the Stove’s emerging artist programme in collaboration with Luke Winter of Stories for Strangers.

To learn how you can get involved visit www.thestove.org/wild-goose-festival.

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The Wild Goose Festival features a range of creative projects including storytelling and poetry. (Picture credit: Kirstin McEwan Photography)

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Five Barnacle Geese.

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