A record number of people attended the 11-day Big Burns Supper festival in Dumfries in January, it was revealed today.

The annual series of events in the town saw audience attendance grow by 66% prompting organisers to describe it as the ‘world’s biggest Burns celebration’.

Festivalgoers descended on the town to visit the popular Spiegeltent – the ‘festival hub’ – situated on Whitesands to take in a programme of events which ranged from cabaret and comedy to music and theatre.

Now in its seventh year, the festival celebrating the National Bard, Robert Burns, kicked off on January 18th with a daring new staging of locally produced Queer Haggis which boasted a heady roster of international queer artists and home-grown talent taking to the Spiegeltent stage, alongside the festivals own Le Haggis, Scotland’s only home grown five-star cabaret company which marked its 5th anniversary with a hugely popular run.

Veteran comic Bill Bailey also performed alongside a variety of artists including, Donovan, Public Service Broadcasting, Eddi Reader, Badly Drawn Boy, Camille O’Sullivan and hip-hop star Ocean Wisdom.

Founder and Executive Producer of the Festival, Graham Main said:“We have had a lot of fun staging the seventh edition of Big Burns Supper, and the return of the Spiegeltent has been a big hit with our audience.  We have started to see a lot of new people coming to shows for the first time this year, as well as welcoming in our loyal audience members who’ve been with us from the start.

“As the festival grows we are becoming more confident about the uniqueness of the programme we present. Artists who come to play are astounded by the quality of the acts we present.

“The festival has continued to innovate our cultural programmes through new initiatives like Big Burns Supper TV and the Container Theatre. Digital audiences also increased as more people tuned into the online programme of events which includes live interviews of artists like Bill Bailey and Camille O’Sullivan, as well as Facebook Live activity with About Scotland which was watched by 48k people on Burns Night, and broadcast around the world.”

Karen Clapperton, Chair of the voluntary charity board that runs the Festival said: “We are hugely thankful to the community of Dumfries who have been a constant inspiration to us in our vision to stage this amazing festival.  The local volunteers, tradespeople and businesses that get behind the festival are all part of the magic that is Big Burns Supper. Dumfries is forever in your debt.”

The festival will be inviting members of the public to get involved in creating the 2019 festival through community workshops which will take place in February next month to help generate the ideas for the next festival.