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Haunted waters to be focus of folklore fest

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By Donald Turvill
Haunted waters to be focus of folklore fest

A FESTIVAL celebrating the rich history and folklore of the region is returning this weekend.

The Festival of Folklore was launched last year in Upper Nithsdale, showcasing storytelling, art and tours held across several locations in the area such as Crawick Multiverse.

Following a resounding success in its debut last year, founders and organisers, Mostly Ghostly, were determined not to let the pandemic get in the way of its return.

The four day event is taking place online until Sunday, featuring live-streamed events, videos and craft workshops.

Exploring various myths and legends, this year’s festival has a special focus on water, seas and coastal towns with ‘holy wells and haunted waters’.

Highlighting some of this year’s events, team member and co-founder John Hill said: “We feel privileged to be welcoming a fantastic and diverse programme of contributors to the Festival. Folklore and water are intrinsically linked, and will be explored both locally, here in Dumfries and Galloway, and across the wider country.

“Highlights include: Dr. Peter Hewitt’s Holy Wells and Springs of Dumfries and Galloway, Tom Hughes’ Dark Tales from Scotland’s Waters and storytelling from the Kirkconnel and Kelloholm Development Trust in their virtual walk along Mavis Bank.”

Fellow festival founder Kathleen Cronie said the events “are about bringing people together,” adding: “we aim to do this safely, and with a strong sense of community, where folklore can be accessed and enjoyed by all.”

The Upper Nithsdale Tourism Partership are helping Mostly Ghostly to organise the festival following a successful collaboration in 2019.

Chairwoman of the partnership, Rose Murdoch, said: “In these unprecedented times, we are delighted that we are still able to host the Festival of Folklore, albeit in a very different format. Our inability to hold large events and gatherings has enabled us to be a bit more creative about how we can continue to engage with both the community and visitors to the area. Indeed, we hope that the online format will still enable us to showcase the area and its history and culture, and possibly whet the appetite of potential visitors in the future.”

A festival first for 2020 will see PAMIS (Promoting a More Inclusive Society) working with organisers to make the experiences as inclusive as possible. Multi-sensory storyteller Heather Molloy has adapted The Sanquhar Fairies – a Mostly Ghostly story – to create an immersive experience featuring props and a downloadable resource pack.

Founder Kathleen added that the team are keen to showcase young performers, saying: “We are pleased to welcome two young performers, who will share their incredible talents: nine-year-old author L.M. Owens, will present a story, sparked by her interest in the famous Sanquhar Knitting Pattern, and young harpist, Hector McQuarrie-Parkes, will enchant us with his beautiful music. Our vision is that the Festival of Folklore will become a destination event in our region’s exciting festival calendar, and we hope that many will add it to their must-experience list!”

All online events are free to attend, with a full program available on the Festival of Folklore Facebook page.