It's that time of year again, though it may feel like time to call off the parties for a while, Dumfries shuns those January blues with Big Burns Supper. The ticket office has been open for the past month - for more info head to the BBS website….
An amazing army of 300 volunteers plus well over 2,500 community participants are expected to take part in the 2014 Big Burns Supper.
Some will be stewards at events, others will be putting on performances and more still will be donning colourful costumes to take part in the Homecoming Carnival.
Together they will help make Big Burns Supper the world’s biggest Burns Night festival – with three-days of fun and entertainment in venues around Dumfries from 24th to 26th January.
Graham Main, Festival Director, said: “It is the spirit of the Dumfries community that makes the festival what it is - a showcase everything that is good about the capital of Southern Scotland.
“This year the festival has 300 local volunteers doing everything from making sets and costumes to selling tickets and acting as stewards. They do an incredible job in working together to make sure that Big Burns Supper is a huge success.
“And each year we are getting more and more people wanting to take part in the festival itself – the Homecoming Carnival alone is expected to have around 2,500 local participants in a huge procession through the centre of the town.”
Volunteers take on a number of roles - in the box office, marketing, arts liaison, stewarding, venue management, festival cleanup, street teams and much more. The return of the magnificent Spiegeltent for 2014 also requires a troupe of volunteers solely to ensure the seamless delivery of her shows.
Moira Priestley, Volunteer Co-Ordinator said: “Volunteers are at the heart of the festival. Without this tremendous and diverse group Big Burns Supper simply could not take place in our community.”
The Homecoming Carnival, on Burns Night itself, will be an embodiment of this vast community effort. Volunteers, from the under 10s to over 60s, from all backgrounds are involved in designing and making lanterns, puppets and costumes. Around 30 local groups will participate in the carnival as artists, and over 100 volunteers are required in the street team to oversee this event alone.
Margaret Dyer has been helping with carnival preparations for over two months so far, fitting volunteering around her own schedule. To her it has been a life changing experience.
She said: “I have a new found confidence working in groups, and with the school children, because now that I am retired...I had lost my reason to get up and go for the day.”
One artist, 19-year-old Jordan Chisholm has found the opportunity through Big Burns Supper to present her first solo show, called Jordan, Herself and Id.
She said: “The festival does incredible work to showcase local artists and to nurture the development of creative arts in the region. I’m so proud to be a part of the festival this year and grateful for the level of support I have received as a young artist and a volunteer.