Exploring Arts & Culture in Dumfries & Galloway

The whole region of South West Scotland offers a wonderful variety of arts and culture for all to enjoy. It has been home to many creative talents including the poet Robert Burns, author JM Barrie, cultural theorist Charles Jencks, superb artists and so many more. It is also rich in heritage with many historical sites to visit.

Kirkcudbright is known as the ‘Artist’s Town’ after it became a magnet for Scottish artists in the late 19th century. Behind the harbour the streets have housed generations of creative artists, a tradition maintained today by a flourishing colony of painters and craftworkers.

The Kirkcudbright Art & Crafts Trail invites visitors to step inside the artist’s creative places, gardens, workshops and homes. Over 150 exhibitors take part in this artistic event, in a number of different venues around Kirkcudbright itself.

Kirkcudbright Artists

Kirkcudbright Art Gallery

Where to Go & Enjoy Art & Culture Throughout Dumfries & Galloway

Literary & Culture

Moat Brae Birthplace of Peter Pan, Dumfries – J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, lived in Dumfries from 1873 to 1878. The gardens at Moat Brae in Dumfries, which he often visited, were his inspiration for Peter Pan’s fictional world and is now known as the National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling. Wander the house  through the interactive exhibits and let your imagination run riot in the Neverland Discovery Garden on the banks of the River Nith.

Robert Burns House, DumfriesVisit the house where Robert Burns, Scotland’s famous national poet, spent the last years of his life. Also known as Rabbie Burns. Burns wrote the famous poem and song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ that is traditionally heartily sung on Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve). He also wrote many other well known poems, including ‘Tam o’ Shanter’, ‘Address to a Haggis’, and ‘A Red, Red Rose’. He died at his home in 1796 at the age of just 37.

Robert Burns Centre, DumfriesThe Robert Burns Centre tells the story of Robert Burns’ last years spent in the bustling streets and lively atmosphere of Dumfries.

Curly Tale Books in Wigtown

Curly Tale Books in Wigtown


Wigtown, Scotland’s National Booktown – It is home to the famous Wigtown Book Festival. A book lovers haven – and with over quarter of a million books to choose from, old and new. Visit Beltie Books, one of the many charming second hand bookshops for which the town is known.

For those visiting the area who love the performing arts, check out Scotland’s smallest theatre, the Swallow Theatre near Whithorn.

Arts & Crafts

Kirkcudbright, the Artist’s Town – A must see for art lovers is the Kirkcudbright Galleries. Housed in the redeveloped 19th century Town Hall, this art gallery retains the Kirkcudbright Artists’ Collection, of recognised national significance, on permanent display as well as a host of temporary art and craft exhibitions.

The Tolbooth Art Centre, Kirkcudbright – The Tolbooth itself dates back to 1629 and now provides visitors with an introduction to the story of the town’s artists’ colony and hoststhe best of the Council’s painting collection including works by S.J. Peploe, Charles Oppenheimer, Jessie M. King, Lena Alexander, Robert Sivell and many more. There is a 15 minute audio-visual show Kirkcudbright where the history of the artists is told. The upper floor studios on the upper floor showcases a number of the current generation of artists and craftworkers. There is ground floor café and shop downstairs

Harbour Cottage Gallery, Kirkcudbright – This small gallery, on two floors, offers a busy exhibition programme throughout the year. It features not only the creative works of local artists and craft-workers, but also increasingly artists from slightly further afield.

Fiona who runs Kirkcudbright Art Tours takes you on an entertaining and informative guided tour of the town. Visitors will meet many talented, and sometimes eccentric creatives and find the best of the art locations and local galleries. (Please note she is taking a sabbatical in 2024 however)

Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries – Home to a collection of over 600 paintings and drawings by Scottish artists

The Mill on the Fleet

The Mill on the Fleet


The Stewartry Museum, KirkcudbrightThe Stewartry Museum has an old-world charm and exhibits a wealth of objects relating to the area known as The Stewartry, or Kirkcudbrightshire.

Wigtown Museum – The Wigtown museum tells the story of the Burgh and various items of Wigtown memorabilia are on display. On the ground floor are the remains of an 18th century prison cell known locally as ‘The Martyrs Cell’ because of its supposed association with the Wigtown Martyrs.

The Mill on the Fleet – Uncover the history and heritage of Gatehouse and the Fleet Valley at Mill on the Fleet, a restored 18th century cotton mill. There are temporary exhibitions as the history and heritage of Gatehouse and the Fleet Valley. The Mill also has a large shop showcasing regional arts and crafts and a large second-hand bookshop

Creetown Gem Rock Museum – The coastal village of Creetown hosts one of the finest private collections of gemstones, crystals, mineral and fossils. Check out the audio visual ‘Fire in the Stones’ display, and explore the amazing Crystal Cave.

Sanquhar Tolbooth MuseumVisit the town’s fine 18th century tolbooth to discover how the people of Upper Nithsdale lived and worked in times past. Highlights include the famous knitting tradition and the story of the mines and miners of the area.

Museum of Lead Mining, Wanlockhead – Situated in the heart of Scotland’s highest village at 467 metres above sea level, the Museum is fun for the whole family. It tells the story of how lead ore or ‘galena’ was extracted and the processes it went through to become the lead products that we know today.

The Whithorn Trust – Whithorn is where the earliest evidence of Christianity has been found in Scotland c.450AD. See 2,000 years of history exhibited, there is a full-scale Iron Age roundhouse reconstruction, as well as the Priory ruins and museum.

Historical Sites

Drumlanrig Castle – Explore the magnificent Pink Palace and its magnificent art collection, including Rembrandt’s ‘An Old Woman Reading’ which takes pride of place. Watch crafters at work in the Stableyard Studios. The castle has great tours all around its 120 rooms, 17 turrets and the four towers.

Culzean Castle – Discover 40 buildings and secret follies in this country park, including the magnificent cliff-top castle. But don’t miss Robert Adam’s Oval Staircase, the dramatic centrepiece of the castle. Admire the enormous collection of flintlock pistols and military swords.

Bruce’s Stone – Bruce’s Stone sits at the top of the hill on the north side of Loch Trool. It is a large granite boulder commemorating King Robert’s victory over the English. It was placed there in 1929, on the 600th anniversary of Bruce’s death. The stone is also the starting spot for the challenging walk up Merrick (2764 feet), the highest mountain in southern Scotland.

The Whithorn Story – Whithorn is a great place to spend a day learning all about the old priory and the pilgrims who travelled here to honour St Ninian. Start your tour of the town at the Whithorn Story Visitor Centre. Enjoy the displays of artefacts and a simulated archaeological dig which tell the story of the town, church and pilgrimage centre at Whithorn, the home of Ninian, the 5th century missionary and Scotland’s first saint.

St Ninians Chapel – St Ninian’s Chapel was first erected in the 1100s for the benefit of both local worshippers and pilgrims to St Ninian’s Shrine at Whithorn. The chapel we see today is a rebuild dating to about 1300. It was one of several stopping-places for the pilgrims, including Chapel Finian and the Laggangarn Standing Stones. Today, pilgrims are invited to add stones to a modern Witness Cairn on the field.

Torhouse Stone Circle, nr. Wigtown – Roam among a rich prehistoric landscape at one of the best-preserved stone circles in Scotland. The stone circle is in an excellent state of preservation. Its 19 stones are graded in height, with a line of three boulders in the centre.


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Crawick Multiverse, Sanquhar – This is an amazing 55 acre land art installation to explore and enjoy cosmology, astronomy and science in a beautiful landscape in what was a former open coalmine. It is the creation of the renowned landscape architect Charles Jencks.

The Ronald Rae Sculpture Exhibition, nr. Creetown – An outdoor exhibition on a derelict industrial estate. It comprises twelve large granite sculptures. One of the sculptures ‘Boy with Calf’ is hewn from Creetown granite and dates to almost 500 million years ago.

The Mull of Galloway – Scotland’s most southerly point. At the end of a narrow peninsula with stunning views in every direction, the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, the Lighthouse Exhibition, the RSPB Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve.

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