Bearsden Festival programme will inform, inspire and ingite

The programme for the Bearsden Festival 2019 has been launched, with over 100 partners coming together to put on 35 events over 10 days from May 10-19.

Bearsden Festival 2019 runs from May 10 to 19. (Photo: Lindsey Mackenzie Parker)

This year the community festival is exploring mental health and wellbeing through creativity and the arts.

There is something for everyone – from flagship events hosted by comedian and chef Hardeep Singh Kohli and TV presenter Ali Douglas to a Wellness Zone for relaxation therapies.

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Highlights include performances and displays by mental health arts groups such as Common Wheel Carnival Club, Sounds of the Gallery and Paragon Music.

Comedian and chef Hardeep Singh Kohli is one of the festival hosts. (Photo: Lindsey Mackenzie Parker)

The award-winning author Lisa Ballantyne and health blogger Alex Murray-Reynolds are on hand to help develop creative writing and journaling skills, while author Sasha Greene will launch her brand new novel, ‘Something Like Happy’.

Informative talks will be hosted by University of Glasgow academics and charities like Playlist for Life and Bipolar Scotland.

The organisers are particularly pleased that artists and performers, including local schools and nurseries, will be visiting 15 care homes and sheltered housing as part of the Festival at Home programme.

All events except the fundraising dinner are free, but some are ticketed and all the information you will need can be found in the programme at

There will be collection points for donations towards various mental health charities, so everyone has the chance to help others who need support with mental illness and recovery.

The volunteer-led event is also giving a platform to volunteering as a great way to connect with community.

The grand Opening Night at Bearsden Academy on Friday, May 10, will feature the Community Awards ceremony.

You can also drop in to the Volunteer Expo on Saturday, May 18, at the 1st Bearsden BB Hall to meet many of the voluntary organisations that make the Bearsden community tick.

Roddy Hamilton, the festival founder, said: “Of all the festivals we have organised, this one has easily been the most popular.

“Inspiration and inputs have come from all parts of the community and you can see the result of that in the breadth of our programme.

“Mental health is something we all share, and this festival is all about bringing people together to talk, be inspired and find that a creative community being together is good for our mental health and wellbeing.

“We want to celebrate our diversity and feel safe with each other and we do that best by getting to know each other, which is what a festival can do so well.”

For the first time, Bearsden Festival has joined up with the well-established Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, an annual event run by the Mental Health Foundation.

Lee Knifton, head of MHF Scotland, said: “MHF Scotland are proud supporters and partners of such an exciting and ambitious event.

“It’s wonderful to see the ambition and enthusiasm the organisers have brought to this, reflected in such a diverse programme across community spaces and places.

“They are keen to emphasise that we all have mental health and that means that there truly is something for everyone – from comedians, writers and academics, to street festivals and more.”

A range of East Dunbartonshire Council services have helped to support the festival.

Joint Leader Councillor Andrew Polson said: “I am delighted to welcome the programme for Bearsden Festival, which offers a wealth of events celebrating the positive impact of arts on mental health and wellbeing.

“All credit to the organisers who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes with partners including a range of Council services and the Community Health & Care Partnership. I hope as many people as possible take the chance to get involved.”

Joint Leader Councillor Vaughan Moody added: “Bearsden Festival looks wonderful and I would encourage everyone to check out the packed programme for themselves.

“As well as offering a variety of cultural events, the festival is raising awareness of mental health and the need to tackle social isolation. I am sure it will be a huge success and will help to inform, inspire and empower people of all ages.”

Guest host at the festival, TV presenter Ali Douglas, said: “Inform! Inspire! Ignite! Three simple but incredibly powerful words chosen to describe the Bearsden Festival.

“The subject of mental health used to be considered taboo, which only added to the dreadful feelings of isolation and despair felt by those suffering from mental illness... those like me. I live with Bipolar Disorder.

“Thankfully though, with initiatives such as the Bearsden Festival, we can raise awareness, educate and inspire.

“Most importantly though, by coming together as a community, we are doing our bit to end the stigma, and reach out a hand of support to those around us, whilst enjoying the benefits that the arts can bring to wellbeing and continued recovery.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the Bearsden Festival and know that together, we really can make a difference.”