Graphic logo of Big Dog for the Children's Book Festival. The orange mascot dog sits reading a book with a bee buzzing around his head.

Big DoG Programme Launch Press Release

Big DoG Programme Launch


Press Release: 22 February, 2023. For immediate publication

Big DoG festival promises a fantastic weekend of children’s stories and fun

  • Make your own Gromit or Shaun the Sheep

  • Enjoy stories from Vivian French and Paralympian Ellie Robinson

  • Have fun at a free Big DoG afternoon garden party

It’s time for the big reveal – the organisers have released the full and fun-packed programme for a weekend-long celebration of books, stories and activities for children and young adults.

Tickets are now on sale for Big DoG, which takes place over four days at Moat Brae and other venues in Dumfries from 30 March to 2 April and runs alongside the Hooked young readers’ and writers’ weekend.

Andy Stewart, Big DoG's Executive Producer, said: “It’s such a fun line-up – including storytelling by some of the country’s best authors, model-making, drawing and lots more. Everything’s designed to fire young imaginations and help share our love of children’s literature.

“Some events are free – like our garden party – and we are trying to keep prices affordable because we want as many people as possible to join us for the weekend.”

Among Big DoG’s top attractions will be the chance to make your own Gromit, Shaun the Sheep – and other much-loved TV and movie animated characters – at a special workshop run by top Aardman model-maker Jim Parkyn.

Jim said: I am thrilled to be coming to the Big DoG festival. I have a big dog and will be bringing him along as well! Looking forward to playing with clay with everyone in Dumfries.”

Vivian French, a wonderful storyteller who has published more than 300 titles, will be there with illustrator Ross Collins, for an interactive event The Newest Story in the Whole Wide World.

Vivian said: Big DoG is one of the highlights of my year. I've never not had a fabulous time.”

Record-holding Paralympian swimming champion Ellie Robinson will read from her forthcoming book The Gold Medal Mysteries. This is especially exciting as audiences for Ellie’s event can buy exclusive advance copies of the book – meaning they will be some of the first people anywhere to read it.

Then there will be the chance to meet celebrated illustrator Allen Fatimaharan and Gavin Puckett to hear the tale of Blanksy the Street Cat.

Allen, who is this year’s World Book Day Illustrator, said: “We can't wait to bring Blanksy the Street Cat to Big DoG festival! I'm particularly looking forward to seeing all the fantastically imaginative artwork from the draw-along and workshop. Moat Brae looks like a fantastic venue for Blanksy to unleash his artistic creativity and I'm excited to visit Dumfries for the first time.”

There’s also a free family garden party in the gardens at Moat Brae from noon on 1 April with storytelling, puppet theatre, music and face painting. Refreshments and a barbecue will be available.

On top of that there will be a drop-in draw along with Tom Morgan-Jones – who wants help to make the biggest picture in Dumfries – and the chance to create your very own magical story with Liz Flanagan.

Other people taking part include Jack Meggitt-Phillips, whose book The Beast and the Bethany was named by David Walliams as one of his top Christmas reads and Alex Foulkes, the author of the Rules for Vampires series.

Alex is well-known to youngsters in the region having been part of the Big DoG Schools Tour which brought authors to over 2,500 pupils in 53 Schools from Gretna to Stranraer.

Big DoG will also feature an amazing chocolatey strand marking 21 years of Scots language publisher Itchy Coo by celebrating Chairlie and the Chocolate Works by Roald Dahl, translated by Matthew Fitt.

The festival is named in honour of Nana, the big dog who looks after the Darling children in Peter Pan, Big DoG is the annual family festival for Dumfries.

Hooked is for 14 to 26 year olds and focuses on professional development in the arts sector, alongside author talks and entertainment.

Through workshops and events with leading writers and practitioners, it provides a gateway for the next generation of authors and artists.

Events include:

An Introduction to Theatre Design from Scottish Opera: Experience the behind-the-scenes magic of theatre with set and costume designer Finlay McLay. In this fun, interactive workshop, Finlay shares his wealth of experience from an exciting career, with recent credits including Scottish Opera Young Company, Outlander and Indiana Jones.

Judge a Book by its Cover with Leah McDowell: Join Leah, Art and Production Director of Floris Books, on a crash-course in book cover design aka mind control through the use of colour, typography and imagery. Learn how to wield these powerful elements and put them to the test in our cover design challenge.

  • Big DoG is supported by Baillie Gifford. Events can be accessed through the Wigtown Book Festival website at

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

Big Dog venues

  • Moat Brae, 101 George Street

  • Big DoG HQ, Bookshop & Box Office, 109 High Street

  • The Jolly Roger, 115 High Street

  • Ewart Library, Catherine Street

  • The Stove Network, 100 High Street

Box office

  • Open 10am-4pm Tuesday to Sunday at Moat Brae, 101 George Street, DG1 1EA & 01387 255549 or 10am-4pm Monday to Friday at Number 11, Wigtown, DG8 9HN & 01988 403222.

  • During the festival tickets can be purchased on the door if an event is not sold out or at Big DoG HQ, 109 High St, DG2 7AD. Please contact 01988 403222 to check availability.

Online booking at

Our ticketing policy varies per event. Please check the ticketing policy online or call 01988 403222.

  • Further information on

  • Organised by – Wigtown Festival Company, 11 Main Street, Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway, DG8 9HN.

  • Wigtown Festival Company is limited by guarantee with charitable status. Charity number SCO37984.

  • Moat Brae is the National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling – find out more here

For further information and interview requests contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or [email protected]