Diana Athill, Paddy Doyle and Iain Banks set for Wigtown Book Festival

Diana Athill, Paddy Doyle and Iain Banks set for Wigtonn Book Festival

Diana Athill, the award-winning 92-year-old novelist and literary editor, will appear alongside Irma Kurtz at the Wigtown Book Festival

Tucked away on the Galloway coast, pretty little Wigtown is home to one of Scotland's worst kept literary secrets. After a bumper year in 2008, the annual Wigtown Book Festival looks set for its busiest year on record, with more than 170 events over 10 days.

The wide-ranging programme includes Booker prize-winning novelist Paddy Doyle, former Scotland rugby player Kenny Logan, and celebrated chef Nick Nairn, as well Diana Athill, Christopher Brookmyre, Iain Banks, Louis de Bernières, William Dalrymple, and author of the Gruffalo stories Julia Donaldson. The award-winning Scottish poet and dramatist Liz Lochhead will launch the Wigtown Poetry Competition 2010 – which is open to submissions in English, Scots or Scots/Irish Gaelic – on the final weekend of the Festival.

In addition to these is a series of thirty 'Whisky and Words' events celebrating – as Festival Director Adrian Turpin puts it – ‘two of Scotland's greatest exports'. This 'festival-within-a-festival' includes talks by whisky writers Ian Buxton, Charlie MacLean, Gavin Smith and Hans Offringa, as well as traditional music, and, of course, midnight tastings. All whisky-related events take place at the nearby Bladnoch distillery, which was re-opened 10 years ago following a regeneration project of which the Book Festival was part.

Adrian Turpin is proud that over 70 of Wigtown's 900 residents have volunteered to help out at the Book Festival. Although two thirds of visitors now come from outside Galloway, he believes that Wigtown still has a community atmosphere unique among literary festivals. As well as talks, film-screenings, theatre and music, the Festival - which is part of Homecoming 2009 - includes a Burns Supper (at which the Bard biographer Robert Crawford will speak) and a whisky-fuelled ceilidh. 'There is nothing po-faced about the Wigtown Book Festival,' insists Turpin, 'it is, above all, a celebration.'

Wigtown Book Festival runs from 25 September to 4 October 2009. See www.wigtownbookfestival.com
Getting to Wigtown: By car, it will take just over 2 hours from Glasgow and about 3 hours from Edinburgh. There is a daily Stagecoach bus from Glasgow to neaby Newton Stewart (number 359): see www.stagecoachbus.com or call the TravelLine on 0870 608 2608. Kings Coaches run bus services between Newton Stewart and Wigtown.

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