What’s on in May across the South of Scotland?

by Sara Barton, 12th April 2023
Spring Fling | Dumfries & Galloway | Credit: Kim Ayres
What’s on in May across the South of Scotland?

There’s an exciting range of events taking place across the South of Scotland during May. With multiple bank holidays there are plenty of opportunities to explore music and art festivals, watch some gravel cycling and discover new walking routes. Here are a few of the highlights you might want to seek out while you visit the region. It all Starts Here!

Music festivals take centre stage

The SpringGrass Bluegrass Festival is in its second year and is a three-day celebration, showcasing the best in UK and international Bluegrass/Americana/Folk music. Concerts, workshops and jam sessions will be happening in the picturesque market town of Newton Stewart.

Then at the end of the month you can celebrate the 25th Knockengorroch Festival, Scotland’s longest running greenfield music festival. Taking place in the hills of Galloway in South West Scotland, the four-day festival will be welcoming back acts from its very first event in 1998, alongside exciting new artists from Scotland, the UK and beyond. There is a wide range of music from DJs and MCs to rap, ska, reggae, UK jungle, acid-house and much, much more. Expect to be dancing the weekend away!

Knockengorroch, Scotland’s longest running greenfield music festival celebrates 25 years.

Explore art

The annual Spring Fling celebration of open art studios across Dumfries & Galloway takes place over the last bank holiday weekend of the month. There is plenty of time to explore the six colour coded trails connecting more than 100 studios. This, Scotland’s leading open studios weekend, is a superb opportunity to meet wonderfully creative people who have been specially selected and include contemporary visual artists of every kind – such as painters, illustrators, original printmakers. There are also jewellery makers, potters, willow artists, glass makers, woodworkers, textile artists and even two blacksmiths.

Earlier in the month at Dalkeith Country Park there’s the contemporary Inception Art Show. In its third year, 35 modern and contemporary artists, sculptors, photographers and painters are invited to ‘take over’ The Palace. Art lovers have the chance to encounter the artists and their work with an inspiring additional programme of artist-led workshops as well as curator & Palace tours.

And for those who prefer to do rather than watch, why not sign up for the Sanquhar Knitting Sampler Workshop and discover the long history of knitting in this wonderful south of Scotland setting.

The Inception Art Show will take place from 4th -14th May at Dalkeith Country Park.

Watch some gritty gravel cycling

May sees the return of Muck n’ Mac Fest, a unique gravel & road riding festival weekend – staged for the second year at Traquair House in the heart of the Tweed Valley. The festival features two fantastic days of gravel riding across some of the most epic gravel trails and roads in the Scottish Borders.  The weekend is as much about time off the bike as it is the riding. The festival village has an amazing mix of activities from live music, yoga, mixed catering experiences and various family friendly activities around the grounds of Scotland’s oldest inhabited house.

At the end of the month is the all new Gralloch – the first and only top level international gravel cycle race in the UK. As part of the TREK UCI Gravel World Series, The Gralloch is also a qualifying event for the World Gravel Championships. Riders will tackle a hilly 110km (68 mile) route through the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, racing in age and gender groups with the fastest 25% in each group qualifying for the worlds. Starting from Gatehouse of Fleet this is the perfect opportunity to get out and explore this super corner of southern Scotland.

Gravel cycling offer unique challenges for riders at two separate events this month.

Need to feel the noise?

The Drumlanrig Offroad Motorsport Festival will be held at the spectacular Drumlanrig Castle. The jewel in the crown of the weekend will be “the Classic Grand National Scramble of Scotland” with 300 riders racing their classic scrambles machines dating back from 1984 to the mid 1950’s. On the Saturday and Sunday there will be a motorcycle trial with 100 riders testing their skills on some demanding terrain, while non-riders can enjoy the farmers market, live music, kids arts and crafts, castle tours and plenty of food and drink.

Drumlanrig Castle
Drumlanrig Castle and Estate will provide the backdrop to the Offroad Motorsport Festival from 19-21 May.

Visit a farmer’s market

Experience the best of the fabulous local food offerings across the south of Scotland by heading out to one of the Farmer’s markets around the region. Head to Kirkcudbright or Langholm in Dumfries & Galloway or Kelso and Selkirk in the Scottish Borders to find some local treats to enjoy or take back with you.

Head to one of the regions farmer’s market, such as this one in Kelso, to benefit from great Scottish local produce.

Explore on two legs

Take in the stunning scenery and lungfuls of clean Scottish air as you stride through the hills, forest paths and along the coastal routes. Newton Stewart has its annual walking festival in the first half of the month with around 30 guided routes on offer with transport included, as well as a programme of evening social events. The festival is centred on the market town of Newton Stewart but offers walks throughout the Galloway Hills and along the Solway Coast.

And the keenly athletic may want to tackle the Kirkcudbright Half Marathon, which has a new route for this year.

Get out to explore during the Newton Stewart Walking Festival.