What’s on in October

by Sara Barton, 14th September 2023
Wild Goose Festival | Dumfries & Galloway Credit: Duncan Ireland
What’s on in October

Get ready to embrace the vibrant spirit of autumn in the enchanting South of Scotland! As the leaves start to turn and a crisp chill fills the air, this region comes alive with a dazzling array of events that will captivate your senses. From multiple festivals celebrating food, music and geese to a myriad of children-friendly Halloween activities, there’s something for everyone. Join us as we explore the autumn wonders that await you in the South of Scotland!

Wild Goose Festival

Where: Dumfries & Galloway

When: 19-29th

The 11-day Wild Goose Festival is a celebration of the geese which pass through Dumfries and Galloway on their annual pilgrimages. There is plenty of variety for young and old. Follow the trail from Svalbard to the Solway with Bart the Barnacle Goose as you read his story and complete a self-led, short activity trail. Or don your woolly hats and join the WWT Caerlaverock wardens and NatureScot reserve staff as they lead a walk up Wardlaw Hill to see the dusk flight of the pink footed and barnacle geese as they head out to roost. There are crafting workshops, plenty of nature walks, some star gazing and interesting talks and demonstrations.

Creating a willow goose was just one of 2022’s varied activities at WWT Caerlaverock. Credit: Rachel Shnapp.

Kirkcudbright Festival of Light

Where: Kirkcudbright

When: 5-8th

The early dusk affords a great opportunity to take in the fabulous Kirkcudbright Festival of Light. Three days of performances, art installations & illuminated experiences will keep visitors entertained after a day of checking out the town’s many delights such as the Dark Space Planetarium, Dark Sky Distillery, art tours, and Broughton House & Gardens. This year’s Festival of Light is back with spectacular light displays, fantastic events and the Lantern Parade – be sure to stop in the Soaperie Gardens and see the installation there too!

Kirkcudbright Festival of Light
As night falls Kirkcudbright puts on an excellent display during its Festival of Light.

Autumn Trad Festival

Where: Newton Stewart

When: 20-21st

The Autumn Trad Festival comes to you from the folks who organise the Minnigaff and Newton Stewart Traditional Music and Dance Festival. This amazing weekend promises to be full of talented young traditional musicians! The line up this year will include performances from Glasgow-based Roo & Neil supported by the Lucie Hendry Trio; Ellie Gowers; and Ryan Young. Young brings new life to very old, often forgotten tunes by playing them in his own unique way. His fiddle playing is brimming with fresh melodic ideas and an uplifting rhythmic drive.  There will also be Trad sessions where all musicians are welcome! Come and discover this gem of a festival nestled in the Galloway Hills with spectacular coastal walks nearby.

Enjoy traditional Scottish music at this autumn’s Trad Fest at the Vault Arts Centre.

Pink Floyd Full Dome Experience

Where: Kirkcudbright

When: 13th, 20th

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s release of Dark Side of the Moon, the Dark Space Planetarium presents the Pink Floyd Full Dome Experience, consisting of the ten reality breaking tracks and astronomical visuals that will warp both time and your senses. During the day the Planetarium’s domed cinema screen offers an immersive experience whilst taking a trip through the solar system. And interactive exhibits let you get up close with the experiences of astronauts in space. This is definitely one for aspiring cosmonauts of any age.

Dark Space Planetarium
The Dark Space Planetarium offers a deep dive into Pink Floyd’s iconic album for two special sessions.

Pumpkin Patches & Halloween Events

Where: Various

When: Throughout the month

To get you into the spirit of the month there are multiple pumpkin patches springing up across the south of Scotland. We’ve done a comprehensive blog of Halloween activities, but here’s a quick summary. You can find pumpkin patches at St Abbs, Drumlanrig Castle, Dalkeith Country Park and Ernespie Farm. Mostly Ghostly are offering tours relating the spooky history of various locations. Meanwhile there is a Halloween trail at Floors Castle and through Kirkcudbright town. Or try the spooky fun day on offer at Traquair House . There are Halloween activities galore at Dalkeith Country Park and spooky walks and activities at Ernespie Farm. Four of Historic Environment Scotland’s venues are offering lessons in Potion Making so look for your nearest!

Halloween activities abound throughout October including a spooky day at Traquair House!

Tours and Afternoon Tea

Where: Thirlestane Castle

When: 21st

Thirlestane Castle has extended its opening hours this autumn and from Tuesday to Sunday tours are led by an expert team of guides and volunteers. The Castle is brought to life as each guide shares its fascinating history, finishing with a complimentary cup of tea and a treat, the perfect opportunity to hear further stories. And if you are quick you can book for the monthly afternoon tea which will either take place in the Victorian kitchen, with its original 19th-century range oven, or the Castle’s atmospheric, ‘old servants’ tearoom, depending on numbers. The delicious tea is courtesy of the local award-winning Lauder bakery, Firebrick Brasserie.

Afternoon Tea, Phil Wilkinson
Guided tours of Thirlestane will continue through the month, with afternoon tea served on the 21st – book now!