Town open to all the arts

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MORE than 30 years have passed since the first Peebles Arts Festival, with the 11-day event shows no signs of entering a mid-life crisis.

Music, drama, art exhibitions based in a jail and tours of lost buildings fill the Tweeddale town from tomorrow until Tuesday, September 4.

A new open gallery evening will start events, and participating galleries have joined forces with the festival to invite art lovers in for a glass of wine while admiring the work on show.

The festival will be officially opened by Peebles-based InChorus this Saturday on the Tweed Green ahead of the choir’s appearance at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre next month.

Also on Saturday is a demonstration by the British Artist Blacksmith Association (BABA) on how to bend and shape metal.

The Tweed Green will also see the return of ever-popular World Music Yurt, where children can pop in to make and learn how to play their own musical instruments.

Festival-goers can go behind bars from Saturday when artist Deborah Campbell and digital printer and photographer Nicki Bester throw open the doors of their studios in the cells of Peebles old police station, while a night of whisky-inspired poetry and, of course, tasting will be hosted by Allan McTeir of Glenross Whiskies.

Bluegrass will be heard on Sunday in the World Music Yurt as DRHC House Band perform, while Stuart Akers leads the first part of a tour of impressive buildings no longer standing in Peebles.

Other tours during the festival include a visit to the Old Parish Clock, a guided walk over Peebles’ 18 bridges and, as a comic alternative, the Tall Tours with Douglas Roberts and Steve Lee.

On Monday, folk singer-songwriters Ian Bruce and Ian Walker join forces again after 25 years at the Horse Shoe Inn, while the Tweeddale Society hosts a discussion in the Eastgate Theatre on how Robert Chambers’ biography of Robert Burns helped change the reputation of the poet.

The following night, the arts venue sees Quernstane present a programme of readings from the letters and journals of visitors to the Lowlands and the Highlands of Scotland, together with fiddle tunes from the Gow Collections, as well as songs by Burns and others.

Tweeddale Film Club screens The General with Buster Keaton, regarded as one of the greats of the silent era, on Wednesday, while jazz band Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, who count TV chefs the Hairy Bikers among their fans and proved a hit at this year’s Celtic Connections, entertain the Eastgate on Friday.

Kathy Stewart and the Frequent Fliers are on the festival bill on Friday, August 31, at the County Inn, while singing duo Guizer step back into reiving times for their Cardrona Village Hall show.

On Saturday, September 1, the High Street will be filled with buskers of all ages, while the riotous story of The Matchmaker will be told at the Eastgate.

Other highlights of the festival are two felt puppet shows by Poppy Browne – Muckle Mouthed Meg and Greyfriars Bobby – at the Leckie Church Memorial Hall.

For more information, including a full list of dates and times for all Peebles Art Festival events, visit