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For the vibrant market town of Biggar, mid-October means “Festival Time”.
Lying to the south of Edinburgh on the boundary of Lanarkshire and the Scottish Borders, Biggar is steeped in history and tradition, from the annual Fleming Pageant in early summer to the famous town centre Hogmanay Bonfire.
The town and surrounding area has long been home to writers, artists and musicians, and a rich proliferation of local groups form the beating heart of the festival.
The Biggar Little Orchestra, The Young Musician Competition, The Biggar Big Band, The Clydesdale Folk Club, The Dukes of Uke, the Writers and Poets group, the Braw Clan Theatre Workshop and the Festival Club are all regular participants creating a richly varied program of events.
Art and artists have been a big part of the Festival since it’s beginning, with many Exhibitions and Open Studio Events. The 2023 Art Trail includes over 70 artists and makers participating in events across 26 venues in Biggar and the surrounding area.
The Biggar Little Festival was conceived in 2002 by a team led by a visionary local businessman, the late David Roberts with the idea of creating a “Festival of the Five Arts”. The previous year had seen the foot and mouth epidemic decimate the countryside causing the demise of many rural events including the popular Tinto Folk Festival. David and his team harnessed the legacy of this and other events, encouraging local groups to put on events showcasing their many talents. Generous support from local businesses enabled the Festival organisers to attract headline acts from near and far.
Biggar is able to host a wonderful diversity of events and exhibitions across multiple genres as the town benefits from a wide and eclectic choice of venues. The Corn Exchange is a historic landmark on the High Street, the Biggar Municipal Hall can host the largest events, the Loaningdale Arts Centre has a wonderful auditorium and the enchanting Biggar Puppet Theatre is famous across Scotland.
Festival events range from family friendly children’s entertainment to challenging theatre pieces. Music encompasses classical, jazz, folk and rock, and literary activities include poetry evenings and visiting writers. Artists, makers and crafters take part in multiple events on the Biggar Little Festival Art Trail.
The Biggar Little Festival has grown year by year and attracted many well known guest headliners who always enjoy the a warm and enthusiastic Biggar welcome. Famous faces who have appeared at Biggar Little Festival include Fred MacAulay, Kevin Bridges, Barbara Dickson, Seann Walsh, Eddi Reader, Kiki Dee, David Hayman, Kirsty Wark, Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre and Ian Rankin - to name but a few!
The return of the first full festival for three years was also a celebration of 20 years of Biggar Little Festival. Comedy was headlined by Fred MacAulay, with stand up from Chris Forbes, Jay Lafferty, Rocco McClellan and Christopher MacArthur-Boyd. Music was headlined by James Grant, Dougie MacLean and Scottish Opera. The joyous 2022 program totalled more than 70 events including eight exhibitions and 21 Open Studio Artists.
Click buttons to view 2022 program & gallery.
Biggarlinks Community Art Trail
In July, the Biggar Links Community Art Trail encouraged anyone to create a piece of art using the continuous unbroken line “eternity knot” to symbolise the strength of our community links. An outpouring of creativity ensued with over 70 “#Biggarlinks” pieces displayed in windows, on garden gates and online. A safely distanced community event!
The Biggar Little Picnic
In the summer, Biggar Little Festival hosted a 2 day free outdoor concert at Loaningdale. With an outdoor stage and plenty of space it was possible for people to keep to their family groups and yet still enjoy live music for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Loaningdale Art and Craft Exhibition
With live indoor performances impossible, October saw just one main event at our usual festival time. 21 artists spread out at Loaningdale House to show paintings, ceramics, jewellery and textiles, with plenty of original work for visitors to enjoy and buy.
Click button to view 2021 gallery.
Lockdown 2020 of course meant cancellations for all public events and festivals.
Biggar Little Festival endeavoured to keep spirits up and support the arts with an online exhibition featuring a number of the regular Open Studio participants and a few of our regular contributing performers also played their music on Facebook Live.
Headlined by Barbara Dickson and Rab Noakes at the Municipal Hall and featuring comedian Jodi Sutherland at the Corn Exchange, the 2019 festival had drama, music exhibitions and workshops throughout the busy and vibrant festival - and the Dance Mob which filled the High Street will live long in Biggar memories.
Click buttons to view 2019 program & gallery.
Artists appearing in 2018 included the legendary Kiki Dee with Carmelo Luggeri, Heron Valley, Moishe's Bagel, Pygmy Twylte and many more. Comedians Larry Dean and Chris Forbes performed and Biggar enjoyed a wonderful evening with the queen of crime-writing Val McDermid. A full program also included events put on by The Biggar Little Orchestra, Leadhills Silver Band and the Purves Puppet Theatre.
Click buttons to view 2018 program & gallery.
By popular demand, the fabulous Andy Fairweather Low returned with some of the country’s leading musicians. This year’s folk concert featured the exciting and original Skerryvore. Award winning Scottish comedian Scott Gibson came to our festival for the first time and Tram Theatre Company brought their production of “Follow Through” By John Hughes to the Corn Exchange.
Headliners this year include Fred MacAuley, music from Skipinnish, Abbamania, and Malachy Tallack bringing comedy, drama, music to suit every taste. Art, craftwork, puppetry, outdoor events and “macabre goings-on” complete a line up of events for festival goers of all ages.
Click buttons to view 2017 program & gallery.
With comedy from Fred Macaulay, music from Skipinnish, Malachy Tallack, Abbamania and more there was fun and variety throughout our 2016 program. Art was flourishing with a wonderful Open Studios Trail and several exhibitions. An extraordinary choice of events in which to participate, ranged from the Murder Mystery Night to workshops in Hat Making, Rug Making, Mosaics and children’s Kite Making. There is always a surprise at Biggar Little Festival.
Click buttons to view 2016 program & gallery.
The fabulous Eddi Reader lead the line up for 2015 along with Sharon Shannon and comedy from Elaine C Smith. Other highlights were the Biggar Community Drum Circle, the author’s night with Lin Anderson, Alex Gray and Alanna Knight, and a Hat Making Workshop. A truly eclectic year. Add to that an eclectic mix of local talent showcasing the very best in music, theatre, arts, dance and crafts making for a brilliant festival for everyone to enjoy and be involved in.
Click buttons to view 2015 program & gallery.
The 2014 festival featured music from Andy Fairweather Low, Lulo Reinhart, Junior Simpson, John Gavin, The JSD Band, comedy from Raymond Mearns and an evening with television journalist Kirsty Wark. Locally based musicians, including the Biggar Big Band and the Biggar Love Train featured in a varied festival program of performance and art.
Click buttons to view 2014 program & gallery.
An amazing choice of events highlighting the artistic talent of the town and surrounding area. The festival was also able to draw famous faces from further afield including David Hayman staring in Six and a Tanner, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, blues singer Maggie Bell and Chris Farlowe.
Click buttons to view 2011 program & gallery.