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Wigtown Book Town

Wigtown was officially designated as Scotland’s National Book Town in 1998. From four bookshops then, it is now home to a wide range of book-related businesses and activities. A book lovers’ haven – and with over a quarter of a million books to choose from, old and new … it is impossible to escape empty-handed!

Winning that national designation acted as a catalyst for regeneration with many properties refurbished, including the splendid County Buildings which is now a museum. The town centre gardens were laid out in their present form, and the old mercat cross erected at their centre. New businesses have opened and, although – like any town centre - there is not the same variety of shops there once was, Wigtown has become a magnet for book lovers with its many second hand bookshops.

The annual Wigtown Book Festival was one of the first products of the Book Town initiative. Now 20 years old, it continues to pull in big audiences to hear a varied selection of authors.

The Festival now employs a small professional staff and over 100 volunteers, who have added a Spring Weekend and a family-focussed Community Festival to the annual programme, together with music, film, theatre, art and a weekly market from Easter through the summer.

Continuing to win awards and funding bids has been a key part of Wigtown’s strategy. For example, winning a Creative Places Award in 2012 came with a grant of £50,000 which enabled the development of a residential creative writing course and the annual Whithorn Lecture.

All this is evidence that community spirit is alive and well in the town, and promises that Wigtown will indeed continue to flourish.

“It may only have a population of 1000, but Wigtown doesn’t just punch above its weight when it comes to attracting big-name authors to its annual book festival, it punches above pretty much everybody else’s weight, too.”

— Roger Cox, The Scotsman
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