What’s On in July across the South of Scotland

by Sara Barton, 26th June 2023
Jousting at Caerverlock Castle | Dumfries & Galloway
What’s On in July across the South of Scotland

Warm summer days offer the ideal opportunity to get out and explore all the fantastic activities available across the whole of the South of Scotland. Kick back and enjoy a huge variety of music at festivals, or enjoy the incredible spectacles of massed riders in the Common Ridings and Riding of the Marches across the region. There is spectacular jousting to be seen at Caerlaverock, superb theatre performances outside and in at several different venues and farmers markets across the region throughout the month.

For lovers of horses and heritage

If you are visiting this month you have a great chance to witness a Common Riding or a Riding of the Marches. These ancient festivals marking the boundaries of territory are today much anticipated local celebrations and an excellent way to take in the spirit of the region. Galashiels, Duns, Annan, Jedburgh, Kirkcudbright and Gatehouse of Fleet all celebrate throughout July and into early August. The marches are usually combined with a week of festivities in each locale with plenty of family friendly activities. In Portpatrick, the town celebrates its maritime heritage and its week long festivities support the RNLI Lifeboat and her crew so vital to ensuring safety around the coastline.

Annan Riding of the Marches is just one of the many spectacular Ridings across the region in July.

Enjoy the music!

There is music for everyone this month across the South of Scotland. Traditional music fans will delight in the super offerings at the 9th annual Newton Stewart and Minnigaff Traditional Music and Dance Festival taking place at the Vault Arts Centre in Newton Stewart.

Harbour Square in Kirkcudbright is a natural arena for a Scottish Music night every Thursday throughout the summer starting on 13th July. The first night of entertanment features a mixture of traditional Scottish Pipe music from the award-winning Kirkcudbright and District Pipe Band.

Music of a different kind, Dumfries’ own Doonhame Festival offers more than 40 music acts over four stages. The likes of Fun Lovin Criminals, Bay City Rollers, GUN and Cast are joined by local and national artists for a superb weekend of music.

For the classicists among you there is a four-day Absolute Classics festival in Dumfries including the Opera Bohemia’s performance of Madama Butterfly. And over in the Borders there is a 10-day chamber music festival at Paxton House. The programme is designed to appeal to people and families who may be new to classical music, and will feature internationally-renowned musicians; those with growing reputations on the UK music scene; and talented early-career musicians.

Newton Stewart & Minnigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival will take place at the Festival Marquee at the Vault Arts Centre, Newton Stewart.

Spectacular jousting

Caerlaverock Castle will play host to a jousting tournament at the end of the month. Watch as four knights compete to be crowned the champion. Listen to the stampede of the hooves and the roar of the crowds as skill and speed battle it out for the ultimate glory!

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Watch as knights joust at Caerlaverock Castle this summer.

Take in a show outdoors

Theatre outside can be so much fun especially when the production involves audience participation! This summer Robin Hood is the subject of two different productions – one from the Three Inch Fools and the other from Illyria. The former is set within the magnificient grounds of Floors Castle, while the later is in the church grounds at the Crichton in Dumfries. Both promise audiences a trip through the tales of Robin Hood with song, laughter, much merriment and even some archery! Meanwhile it is all about finding the perfect husband in 1810 at Thirlestane Castle – Chapterhouse Theatre Company will peform its version of Sense & Sensibility.

Thirlestane Castle is the backdrop for Chapterhouse Theatre Company’s Sense & Sensibility in July.

Be uplifted – Gripping indoor dramas

Two separate events at the Swallow Theatre near Whithorn promise to uplift the spirits with their wonderful stories of the triumph of the human spirit. Grav focuses on the life of feted Raymond ‘Ray’ William Robert Gravell, the Welsh rugby union centre who later became a well-respected English and Welsh language broadcaster and actor. The quirkily titled Tomatoes Tried to Kill me but Banjos Saved my Life is the award-winning inspirational true story of Keith Alessi who was a company CEO confronted with a deadly cancer diagnosis. The show is the story of the circle of musicians who supported him through his treatment and recovery journey. Selected as one of the 18 Best Fringe Shows worldwide in 2019 and sold out during its run Off-Broadway in New York City, this is a show not to miss in this very special theatre venue.

Head to a market

There is a variety of farmers/local markets across the South of Scotland so be sure to check out those while you are staying. While some are fixtures in the calendar there are the occasional one offs that are also worth a quick peak.

Kelso’s Farmers Market will coincide with their civic week festivities in the middle of the month – this market has been running for over 20 years offering local produce and recently won an award at the Royal Highland Show. In Langholm, their Love Langholm Local Producers market is at the beginning of the month as is the Selkirk market which features handcrafted gifts as well as local produce. The Kirkcudbright Farmer’s Market is the third weekend in July and showcases the regions finest producers, offering over 30 stalls of the finest local gins, chocolates, pies, cupcakes, cheeses, baked goods, fruit & veg, plants, crafts and more.

Head to one of the regions farmer’s market to benefit from great Scottish local produce – Kelso’s is in the main town square.