Fantastic Forests Festival

Celebrating the woodlands and forests of Galloway, Scotland, and beyond

The inaugural Fantastic Forests Festival kicks off on Friday (27 January), offering a host of woodland-related events and activities to enjoy in person and online over the next five weeks. The festival launches at the CatStrand in Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, with a month-long exhibition featuring work by environmental photographers Ted Leeming and Morag Paterson and artist Donald Watson.

Other festival highlights include a special screening of the film Riverwoods, which sheds light on the perilous plight of Scotland’s salmon; an online talk by Guy Shrubsole, author of The Lost Rainforests of Britain; and an artist-led woodland walk.

Continuing the arboreal celebrations, in our March issue (OP 291, on sale 23 February) Ted Leeming will launch his new four-part series, with the first article exploring the magic of woodlands.

The images shown here are from Leeming and Paterson’s series ‘All trees are magical but not all treescapes are the same’, which will be on display at the CatStrand from 27 January.

Below is more information about the festival events plus booking links:

28 January: Can’t see the wood for the trees Balmaclellan Smiddy, Castle Douglas, 10am-1pm
A friendly gathering with creative conversations and artist talks, exploring our woodland habitats.

8 February: Riverwoods: Do fish really grow on trees? The CatStrand, from 7.30pm
After the screening, an expert panel will discuss the film and answer any questions.

11 February: Investigating Galloway’s native woodland Balmaclellan Smiddy, Castle Douglas, 10am-12pm
An introduction to the native woods of Galloway for anyone who would like to get involved in their conservation.

15 February: The lost rainforests of Britain Online, 7.30pm
Conservationist and author Guy Shrubsole talks about his recent work and why the word ‘rainforest’ matters.

18 February: ‘Spruce Plucking’ World Championships Location TBC, from 2pm
If spruce self-seeds in the wrong place, could it be plucked? A fun opportunity to get out on to the hillside, irrespective of the weather.

22 February: National Trust for Scotland: ‘Treetastic’ Threave Nature Reserve, near Castle Douglas, £3.50 per person
A day-long event celebrating trees, including an ID workshop, creative tree crafts, tree folklore and storytelling, a tree trail, and tree planting. Booking link available soon.

22 February: The future of woodlands in Dumfries & Galloway Online or in person, Balmaclellan Smiddy, Castle Douglas, from 7.30pm
How southern Scotland’s tree cover has eveolved through history, why the woodlands were originally established and how this is changing.

24 February: Imagining our future woodlands Dalry Town Hall, Castle Douglas, 10.30am-3pm
Conversations with a variety of different voices and communities of interest – local and national – considering Galloway’s future woodland interests and objectives.

26 February: A walk in the woods. Location TBC,10am-1pm.
An immersive walk in the woodlands, led by Ted Leeming and Morag Paterson, with a chance to look back at the festival highlights.

All images © Ted Leeming