Twenty Five for 25

Programmer Top Picks

1 August 2023
Lee Randall stands behind stacks of colourful books, only her head is visible between the books.

Twenty Five for 25

Guest Festival Programmer Lee Randall, along with Andy Stewart, who produces the events for children and young people, selected 25 of the events taking place to give a taste of all that’s on offer.

“Ever since I began chairing events in Wigtown, I’ve told people that a piece of my heart remains here year-round. “To programme the 25th event has been a privilege and a challenge. How do you celebrate Wigtown’s journey while looking to the future?
“I hope that what we’ve come up with adds up to a full 10 days of delights - a really exciting mix of brilliant contemporary fiction and the very best in non-fiction alongside superb debut novels and Galloway yarns.

“This all rubs shoulders with wild walks, music, film, poetry, lectures and discussions.

“The programme also attempts to reflect the unique character of Scotland’s National Book Town. I hope you enjoy it – and that, like me, you won’t want to leave.”

Hamza Yassin is standing in a grassy field with a large camera on a tripod. Blue skies with wispy clouds.

Hamza Yassin

Be a Birder

The man with the most infectious smile in TV talks about winning Strictly, a Sudanese childhood, dyslexia, Highland life and his passion for birds.

Book now

Headshot of Maggie O'Farrell.

Maggie O’Farrell

The Marriage Portrait

The 2020 Women’s Prize Winner transports us to Renaissance Ferrara where a young noblewoman is forced into a dangerous marriage.

Book now

Headshot of Judy Murray.

Judy Murray

The Wild Card

Who better to serve up a novel centred on the world of tennis than player, coach and tennis mum Judy Murray?

Book now

Headshot of Henry Dimbleby.

Henry Dimbleby


The UK food tsar who resigned in March at the government’s refusal to tackle junk food. This searing book explains why he was so worried.

Book now

Headshot of Joanne Harris against an old tiled roof.

Joanne Harris

Broken Light

A welcome return to Wigtown with her new novel inspired by Stephen King’s Carrie. Menopausal Bernie Moon takes control of her life after uncovering a hidden power.

Book now

Gavin Esler sitting in a room. Windows with slatted blinds and a large hanging plant beside him.

Gavin Esler

Britain Is Better Than This

The former BBC Newsnight presenter and festival stalwart returns to offer a funny, forensic and lacerating take on why the country is falling apart.

Book now

Headshot of Josie Long.

Josie Long

Because I Don’t Know What You Mean and What You Don’t

The comic brings new stories to our stage exploring life’s funny, painful and poignant aspects.

Book now

Author Michael Morpurgo sitting in a chair at his desk. Behind him a standing lamp.

Michael Morpurgo

Tales from Shakespeare

We welcome back one of Britain’s greatest storytellers. He’ll be discussing a life in books and why he is taking on Shakespeare.

Book now

Headshot of Sally Magnusson.

Sally Magnusson

Music in the Dark

The broadcaster and author returns with a new novel about the legacy of the Highland Clearances, inspired by her grandmother’s family’s experiences.

Book now

Pat Nevin is standing at a DJ booth wearing headphones.

Pat Nevin

Football and How to Survive It

The “accidental footballer” discusses his fabulously entertaining account of his turbulent time as player and CEO at Motherwell.

Book now

Headshot of Leah Hazard standing with her arms folded.

Leah Hazard


Midwife and bestselling author Leah Hazard returns to Wigtown to talk about her ground-breaking book, Womb, the first book of its kind about one of the body's most remarkable organs.

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Mike Stirling and  Craig Graham are holding a slingshot and a blow pipe.

The Beano at 85

Dennis & Gnasher

It’s been 85 anarchic years since the launch of the Beano. Our celebration takes a behind-the-scenes look at Britain’s most famous comic paper.

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Jenny Graham standing on a beach at low tide wearing a bike helmet.

Jenny Graham

Coffee First, Then the World

Sixteen countries, 124 days, 18,000 miles: Scotland’s endurance cycling legend on her attempt to pedal the world unsupported.

Book now

Robin Ince.

Robin Ince

Books as Weapons of Empathy

The comedian and co-presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage toured Britain’s bookshops for his book Bibliomaniac. No wonder he’s at home in Wigtown.

Book now

Headshot of Louise Minchin.

Louise Minchin


The former BBC Breakfast star has pushed herself to the limit as she goes in search of adventurous women.

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Leif bersweden is hugging a tree and smiling.

Leif Bersweden

Where the Wild Flowers Grow

The BBC Springwatch botanist invites you to join him on a tour of the wild plants of Britain and Ireland, from the everyday to the extraordinary.

Book now

Headshot of Helen Rebanks wearing a warm coat and woolen hat.

Helen Rebanks

The Farmer’s Wife: My Life in Days

The joys and frustrations of the farmer’s wife, reflecting on the Lake District farm she shares with husband James, four kids and 500 sheep.

Book now

Headshot of A F Steadman.

AF Steadman

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief

The bestselling author on the book that singlehandedly made unicorns cool again.

Book now

Headshot of Ruth Scurr.

Ruth Scurr

Napoleon: A Life in Gardens and Shadows

One of our most original biographers offers a green-fingered new take on the emperor as botanist.

Book now

Headshot of Stef Penny looking into bright sunshine wearing sunglasses.

Stef Penney

The Beasts of Paris

The Costa Prize winner turns to 19th-century Paris, where three wandering souls find one another amid the chaos of war.

Book Now

Headshot of Peter Stothard.

Peter Stothard

Palatine: An Alternative History of the Caesars

The former Times editor on his brilliantly original account of the early Roman empire as seen by the social climbers, gluttons, courtesans and libertines who besieged the halls of power.

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Headshot of Partha Dasgupta.

Partha Dasgupta

The renowned economist delivers the annual James Mirrlees Lecture and argues that economics has failed our world in the way it accounts for the natural world and its resources.

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Headshot of Andre Snaer Magnusson.

Andri Snær Magnason

The annual Magnusson Lecture sees the activist, one-time Icelandic presidential candidate and author of On Time and Water talk about why we need myth and memoir to face the climate emergency.

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Headshot of Kathryn Harkup.

A Deadly Dinner with Dr Kathryn Harkup

A country house, a three-course dinner, and a chemistry expert and author – everything you need for an Agatha Christie-influenced dinner at the magnificent Penninghame Estate. But do you trust the chef?

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Headshot of Natasha Walter.

Natasha Walter

Before the Light Fades

Acclaimed writer and thinker Natasha Walter joins us for a deeply personal conversation about losing her mother to suicide, and how she’s honouring the legacy of a family whose members struggled bravely against some of the worst crises of the twentieth century.

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