What’s On this May

by Sara Barton, 26th April 2024
Spring Fling Open Studios Weekend | Dumfries & Galloway
What’s On this May

May brings a delightful fusion of art, cycling, music, theatre, and intellectual engagement to the events calendar of the South of Scotland. As the region begins to bloom with the hues of spring, it also comes alive with events and activities catering to diverse interests. The renowned studio open doors festival, Spring Fling, takes center stage in Dumfries and Galloway while a myriad of delights are on offer in the Borders. Join us as we delve into the dynamic tapestry of events unfolding throughout May!

Feast for your eyes

Spring Fling is a firm fixture in the festivals calendar in Dumfries and Galloway. Now in its 22nd year, the festival sees artists throw open their studio doors to invite the public in to see their creative spaces and share their processes and inspirations. Buses run through the region connecting studios together and there are talks and special events happening throughout the weekend. In the Borders visitors can head to Art at Ancrum event, now in its 10th year. Local artists will be showcasing their works over the early May bank holiday. At Floors Castle you can marvel at a new exhibition by photographic artist Rigby, of large scale portraits of the Household Cavalry posed against the backdrop of some of London’s most iconic buildings. A boxed set of these portraits was given to King Charles III on his Coronation from the Household Cavalry. And for 10-days you can catch the annual Inception Art Show at Dalkeith Palace with 35 modern and contemporary artists on show.

Modern art on display aand for sale at the Inception Art Show at Dalkeith Palace.

For the culture vultures

There is some superb live theatre kicking off the season this May. Go for classic with a twist, Pride and Prejuidice at the Swallow Theatre near Whithorn. Or delve into the world of the Stewart kings and the treacherous life of a young woman in James V: Katherine at the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles. At Traquair there is the start of its outdoor promenade programme with The Merchant of Venice. Starting at the end of April and continuing into May is the 9-day DunsPlayFest. Featuring more than 60 performances from play premieres to rehearsed readings, workshops and cabaret acts to community events and parties, this festival has grown in popularity and has gathered a reputation for quality theatre, music and wonderful atmosphere. There is more than just theatre going on across the region too – Scottish crime fiction author Ed James will be in Conversation at Heron & Willow in Jedburgh. Actor James Cosmos will share dinner and a dram at The Globe in Dumfries while regaling the audience with some stories from his six-decade illustrious screen career – including iconic roles in Braveheart, Highlander, Outlaw King, Game of Thrones, Troy, His Dark Materials, and Trainspotting.

Duns PlayFest is in its 6th year and features over 60 performances across 9 days in late April to early May.

Music to your ears

If music be the food of love, play on! Indeed lovers of all types of music are in for a delight this May in the South of Scotland. From the SpringGrass BlueGrass Festival in Newton Stewart to Absolute Classics in the refined rooms of Dabton House and everything in between there is a melodic array of music choices. Relive the swinging sixties when Counterfeit Sixties Show takes over the Eastgate Theatre. Or enjoy the a cappella vocal quartet of LOKA in the Moat Brae Garden in Dumfries. Victory or Die are offering up hard rock at the Vault in Newton Stewart while Howling Mat is every inch the blues man at the Crichton in Dumfries. See our events page for all the offerings this month.

The Often Herd will be performing at the SpringGrass BlueGrass Festival at the Vault in Newton Stewart.

Watch the wheels go by

The cycling season starts with a bang as the Muck n Mac race offers festival vibes and contrasting terrain from Traquair House in the Borders. Last year’s inaugural UCI qualifying gravel race in Gatehouse of Fleet, the Gralloch hit the headlines when Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas had an unexpected free weekend and turned up to support his professional cyclist partner Tiffany Cromwell. It was a good job he did as she won the woman’s event and Bottas himself came in at a credible 114th! Who will be there this year? If you have discovered the joys of electric bikes then the Tweedlove E24 Weekend is for you. As electric bikes have increased in popularity the folks at Tweedlove decided they should have their own festival and so for the second year they have a dedicated weekend for all things electric!

Must See: Muck n' Mac is just one of the cycling events in 2023 in the South of Scotland.
Head for cycle fun at the Muck N Mac Festival in the Borders this May.

Learn something new

One of the best parts of being on holiday is the access to experiences you might not be able to find where you live. This May there will be a Willow Workshop followed by a stroll with an alpaca at Beirhope Alpacas. What a super way to welcome spring, fashioning your very own willow bird feeder – all materials provided with the bonus of a visit and wander with the Alpacas, and of course some refreshments. Refreshments of a different kind are on offer at the Annandale Distillery Whisky Masterclass – an hour of tutored tastings showcasing up to five specially selected Single Cask Single Malt Scotch whiskies. And if whisky isn’t your thing perhaps wait for the bubbles to flow at the end of the month when the Globe is offering a three-course meal with a perfectly paired glass of bubbly for each course and tasting notes provided by the Globe’s own Master of Bubbles!

Savour the flavours at the Annandale Distillery’s tutoured whisky masterclass.