Fantastic range of events for festival
CLOOTIE dumplings, Victorian dress, science treasure hunts, the Three Wee Crows and a castle light show are just a few of the highlights at this year’s Oban Winter Festival, which starts in a fortnight.
The 10-day festival programme celebrating Oban’s unique culture and community begins with Santa’s parade and Christmas lights switch-on on Saturday November 19, when organisers will unveil a 12ft steel abstract sculpture inspired by McCaig’s Tower to mark this Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.
Saturday also sees the Oban Winter Festival Victorian market at the Rockfield Centre from 11am to 4.30pm, sporting ‘a magic mixture’ of 15 Victorian costumes fashioned by Marie Rowan and Gail Brack of Mary’s Meals in Oban.
‘It is up- cycling at its best – nothing gets wasted,’ said shop manager Marie, adding that making Victorian costumes has become ‘a wee tradition for us. It is lovely to get involved. It looks like a panto in my house. We are all bonkers.’
That Saturday the final-year students on the Marine Science Degree at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS UHI) also present scientific projects through games, quizzes, treasure hunts and stories during a festive-themed open day in the Ocean Explorer Centre at Dunstaffnage.
Visitors can get crafty by making their own oceaninspired Christmas decorations and gifts, as the marine science students provide entertainment through their project displays: it’s a fun way of exploring serious marine issues such as ocean acidification, marine plastics and seaweed.
A food and craft market follows in the Corran Halls on Sunday November 20 from 11am to 4pm, when the champion of the winter festival’s first clootie dumpling competition will be crowned. Please hand your wrapped dumpling on a paper plate into the Corran Halls at 10.30am for the judging to start at 11am.
The Three Wee Crows Theatre Company feature twice in this year’s winter festival, firstly on that Sunday evening in the Argyllshire Gathering Halls, when they will perform their acclaimed production of Home Fires, Broken Sons.
Supported by Argyll and Bute Council for their First World War commemorative programme, this tells of life in the towns and villages of the west of Scotland while the menfolk were fighting in the ‘muddy, bloody’ trenches. Tickets are available at the door, or pre-book on 01866 833 455.
Then on Saturday November 26, the Three Wee Crows will join Rockfield Centre’s Heritage Tours re-enacting tales of life in Oban in the 19th century. Booking is essential and can be done through Ticketsource.
The story of Dunollie Castle will be shone onto its walls in a light show on Tuesday November 22 at 7.30pm. The ‘flamboyant’ evening of light displays, storytelling and music, called ‘Telling the Castle Story’, celebrates the completion the £257,000 conservation work to the south-east and south-west walls. The light show, which will be projected onto the outer walls of the 15th- century tower, has been created by a group of local young people aged 13 to 19 who have been working towards earning a National Arts Award through Dunollie Museum, Castle and Grounds.
The young people, mentored by the festival committee’s Louis Barrow, have researched ancient objects from the castle and have created the light show based on their own interpretations of the history through a variety of sound recordings, illustrations and film. It will be accompanied by stories of castle chiefs and piping tunes inspired by the MacDougall Clan of Dunollie, as well as a complimentary pie and Scotch broth taster included in the £12 ticket price, available from Dunollie reception booth during opening hours.
As this will be an outdoor event it is advised all guests attending wrap up warmly, and the path to the castle is fairly steep and therefore relative fitness is required.
For more information about the festival and all the events, visit obanwinterfestival.com/ events/
Louis Barrow is designing a 12ft abstract stainless steel sculpture of McCaig’s Tower, with the help of Oban and Lorn children.