Newton Stewart and Minnigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival gets under way this weekend,  and, with a new title, is hosting its first ever Scottish Highland dancing competitions; part of another packed festival programme of music and events.

The festival kicks off on Friday with a guitar workshop hosted by BBC Radio 2 Folk Award 2018 nominee for Best Musician, the outstanding, Tim Edey who also headlines the Friday night concert from 7:30pm; both at the Festival Marquee, Creebridge House Hotel, Minnigaff.

Tim will be joined by the exhilarating 5-piece Scottish/Irish music and dance band LAS and BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2018, Scottish singer Hannah Rarity and her band, to complete an outstanding line-up for the festival’s opening night concert.

On Saturday  the event switches focus to Minnigaff Park and the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (SOBHD) registered Scottish Highland dancing competitions which will see dancers aged 5-25+ from all over the UK and Ireland competing at the festival.

The park is open to the public from 10:00am and as well as the highland dancing will also feature Rhins of Galloway Pipes & Drums, outdoor market stalls with local crafters, makers and produce, bouncy castles and entertainment for children and a BBQ with local family butchers Steven Cronnie. There’ll also be refreshments, snacks and plenty of cool drinks available for what promises to be another glorious day in Galloway.

Festival Director Nathon Jones said “This is a superb opportunity for our local dancers to compete on their home turf and to demonstrate and showcase the outstanding talent we have in the region.”

“We’re delighted, in partnership with Paula Herries School of Dance, to be hosting the dance competition event this year particularly as it’s an event that often inspires young people to get involved in, and learn about, their heritage and culture as well as the obvious benefits dancing can have for young people’s physical and mental health and well-being. It’s also, being Scotland’s Year of Young People, the perfect time to celebrate the skills and achievements of young people from Dumfries & Galloway.”

Saturdayalso sees an extensive programme of music and dance workshops available, which are free for under 25’s to participate in, including Scots Gaelic singing, fiddle, Scottish step dancing, whistle, flute, bodhran and uilleann pipes taught by some of region’s, and the UK & Ireland’s, finest traditional musicians.

At 12:45pm  you can catch Stranraer based singer/songwriter Catriona McGhie in concert at the Festival Marquee, Creebridge House Hotel, along with students from Plockton School, the National Centre of Excellence for Traditional Music, who’ll be performing as ‘The Lost Boys’.

At 6:00pm oyou can sample the local gin and enjoy an early evening of music with Ayrshire group The Barrstools at Crafty Disillery, Newton Stewart; then it’s on to the McMillan Hall from 7:30pm with performances by renowned Scottish band Old Blind Dogs, English guitarist Clive Carroll and BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2017 nominee, Scottish singer Kim Carnie and band.

On Sunday the festival closes with an outstanding concert featuring legendary Irish singer and musician Andy Irvine in the Festival Marquee, Creebridge House Hotel, from 6:00pm.

Nathon Jones continued “We’ve aimed to deliver another outstanding programme of events featuring some of the biggest names in traditional music and we’ve achieved that again this year as well as expanding to include the Highland dancing competitions.”

“There’ll also be all the usual tune and song sessions in venues throughout the towns, all weekend, and we will also be welcoming new visitors from the USA and Canada this year as well as from throughout Scotland, the UK & Ireland.”

Tickets are on sale now at www.tradmusic.com or you can call the box office direct on 01671 404924 / 07762 064 298.