A RENFREWSHIRE village is set for a friendly invasion as it welcomes visitors to its annual arts festival.

More than 40 events have been lined up for the Lochwinnoch Arts Festival, spanning music, theatre, comedy and exhibitions.

Highlights include concerts by Orcadian folk quartet Fara, jazz chanteuse Christine Bovill and Capercaillie lead singer Karen Matheson.

There is also a double bill of the award-winning Moira Monologues, by Lochwinnoch writer Alan Bissett.

Literature fans can look forward to visits from authors Kirsten Innes, who won The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize in 2015 for her debut novel Fishnet, and Bernard MacLaverty, who last year published Midwinter Break, his first novel in 16 years.

Community organiser Morag Thow, who began the festival back in 2001 as a one-day book event, said: “We got a few people together – local writers who had done some publishing – and it just built up from there.

The Gazette: Alan Bissett Alan Bissett

“Lots of local artists and musicians then wanted to be part of it. They could see it was good fun and that it literally gave people a stage. A lot of writers, performers and musicians live in and around the village, so we do our best to involve them, even if it’s just a pub gig.”

Morag said the festival aims to be as inclusive as it can, with this year’s event including an extra day focused on local young musicians.

“We try to get a lot of sponsorship and the reason for that is, if you’re an OAP here, you can’t afford to go to Glasgow or Paisley and spend £20 seeing a show,” added Morag, who runs the festival with a volunteer committee.

“We try to keep all the ticket prices as low as we possibly can so young people, unemployed people, older people and students can get a whole dose of a lot of different art forms, whether it’s exhibitions, performances or workshops.”

With its tagline of ‘the friendly festival,’ Lochwinnoch prides itself on celebrating local artists and writers, bringing top names to the village and making a positive contribution to the community.

Morag said: “We try to encourage people, both performers and audiences, to stay on after the show, have a meal here, go in and have a coffee, visit the local shops.”

Visit the website for more details.

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