The Big Burns Supper festival in Dumfries grew audiences by 18% after staging its eight annual event this year, organisers said.

The Fringe-style series of events, which ran from 24th of January to 3rd February, featured 11 days of entertainment across 111 events in the historic Scottish town – including Scottish rock star Kt Tunstall.

A host of top Scottish and international artists joined the biggest contemporary celebration of Scotland’s national poet in the town he called home – with performances including everything from aerial artists to wacky comedy, cabaret and DJs.

Executive Producer Graham Main said: “As the curtain falls on Big Burns Supper 2019, we are incredibly proud and thankful as festival producers to our artists, audiences, staff, volunteers and the community of Dumfries who all work together to realise what is the largest Burns Supper celebration in the world.

“We are thrilled with the success of this year’s festival with an 18% increase in festival audiences, more sell out shows that ever before and the stand out success of our Festival Hub which doubled in size this year and provided a vital platform to over 60 emerging artists from the local area and across the UK. Businesses have also reported a record boost to the local economy, with many restaurants and hotels at capacity as the festival continues to provide a vital support to the economy in Dumfries during what can be a challenging month.” 

Youth Beatz Takeover, Scotland’s biggest free youth music festival, opened proceedings under the iconic festival Spiegeltent for a DJ-driven show. On Burns Night itself, Le Haggis VI, an ensemble of international circus artists was joined by top Scottish trad musicians Hó-Ró to create a ‘blistering cabaret experience’.

The cast included Romanian born Andrei Tazlauanu, an aerial and hand balancing artist who has performed around the world. Britain’s Got Talent 2017 semi-finalists, street performance World Champions, Cork’s favourite spandex wearing lads, The Lords of Strut and the Australia’s fire breathing, rock ‘n’ roll aerialist Katrina Louise collaborated alongside local Dumfries talent to create a cheeky Celtic cabaret that seduced Dumfries audiences for the sixth year running.

The Burns night celebrations continued with a giant rock and roll party and complete sell out at Burns Night Live. Headed up by Scottish rock superstar KT Tunstall, the line-up also included award-winning contemporary Scottish folk band, The Peatbog Faeries, psychedelic cult rockers, Colonel Mustard & the Dijon Five and the undisputed masters of Scottish death reggae, Bombskare. They were joined by some of Scotland’s top party animals to blow the roof off the world famous Spiegeltent for a Burns celebration quite unlike any other in the world!

Another highlight was the locally the produced cabaret Queer Haggis, which for one fabulous night boasted a heady roster of international queer artists and home-grown talent taking to the Spiegeltent stage. It’s provocative celebration of individuality and queer identity cements Dumfries’ status as a hotspot for inclusivity and a welcome home for LGBTQ artists and audiences.  

The eleven-day festival saw an eclectic programme of world-class artists descend on Dumfries to entertain and wow audiences, including Ed Byrne, Frank Turner, Craig Charles, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Hebrides Ensemble and Bootleg Beetles to name a few.

The Big Burns Supper brings residents and visitors together to experience world class comedy, cabaret and music in a celebration of togetherness that is central to any Burns Supper.

An army of around 150 volunteers from the local community helped form the backbone of this year’s festival. Ranging from 14-80 years old, these amazing local champions were the vital cogs in the machine, helping out with tasks ranging from setting up artists dressing rooms to scanning audience tickets and ensuring an amazing festival was shared by all.

The Big Burns Festival Fringe ran alongside the main festival strand with an innovative and challenging programme designed to showcase emerging artists and new work from established companies. Performances were housed in the pop-up festival venue, The Container Theatre which was created by festival organisers last year as part of their continued commitment to support theatre performers, producers and directors with accessible performance space and programming, once again proving hugely successful this year. 

The festival’s final weekend saw an interactive arcade game projected through centre of Dumfries with computer games being played on buildings as the finale light show to the festival which ran from the31st January– 3rd February, titled, Arcade and co-produced by live art agency, D-Lux. Big Burns Supper 2019 had a strong finish with the Sunday Session on the 3rd February, the hugely popular festival within a festival which sees bands including Alabama 3, The Troggs, The Complete Stone Roses and Mànran rock the Spiegeltent and ensured the festival finished in very fine fettle. 

The Big Burns Supper will return in January 2020