Festival Outline 2019

Head and shoulders of Columba on yeloow background with Black and Blue text

ColumbaFest, weeWONDERBOX’s flagship urban festival, returns to Glasgow’s Southside 7-9th June 2019 with a diverse programme of talks, walks, music, art, discussion and worship. weeWONDERBOX is a collaboration between the Wild Goose Resource Group and the Iona Community’s Programme Team.

Below is the current Festival Outline, which gives an idea of the sequence of events throughout the weekend.


This year’s theme — ‘WANDERING + WONDERING’ — inspired by the life of St Columba, current global events and a sense of adventure — invites us to consider the physical, spiritual and emotional journeys, voyages and pilgrimages we go on in life as we wrestle with faith, politics and art today.

The programme is designed to be flexible. You are welcome to join us for the whole weekend, or to visit for a day, or even simply pop along for an evening.

A range of ticket options are available including concession and group rates. We are putting the finishing touches on the precise timings of the festival and the final contributor list, so the following timings and details are advisory, but here’s an overview of how the weekend is shaping up …


Head and shoulders of Columba on yeloow background with Black and Blue textFRIDAY 7th JUNE

For the adventurous, the festival will begin at …


… with the optional Mungo’s Molendinar Meander an approximately 6 mile contemplative walk starting at Stepps and led by the Iona Community’s Pat Bennett following the path of the Molendinar inviting us to reflect as we wander and wonder alongside one another. Further details will be announced closer to the time with the possibility of joining for the last leg of the walk from Glasgow Cathedral down to the Festival HQ of Deaf Connections (100 Norfolk St, Glasgow G5 9EJ).

The Festival HQ Deaf Connections will be open from …


… onwards, offering the weary pilgrims a chance to rest their feet and for everyone to settle in to the space; with time to chat, browse, and unwind.

We will then gather together for short opening liturgy on the theme of arrival followed by an afternoon of reflection with contributions, firstly from writer, broadcaster, priest (and U2’s chaplain), Martin Wroe, on ‘Lifelines’ and faith-filled words for the non-religious; and then a keynote ‘Drift’ from Alison Phipps who is the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow, where she is also Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, and Co-Convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network.

In the evening from …


Martin Wroe and poet-theologian, Pádraig Ó Tuama will treat us to some spoken work contributions, followed by our Friday night headliners, the fantastic Mary Ann Kennedy + Finlay Wells in concert, performing ‘Glaschu’, a hometown love song for Glasgow. “You can take the girl out of Glasgow, but never Glasgow out of the girl, and in the spirit of Gaels’ eternal need to sing about home, this is my Gaelic love-song for the city in all its guises – the voices of arrivals in search of a new life and of those, like me, born and bred there with Gaelic as our first language.”

After the gig there will be option to stay on for late night revelry in the free wheeling open-ended ColumbaFest sessions, a combination of sing around, jamming and hing-oot.


Head and shoulders of Columba on yeloow background with Black and Blue text


On Saturday we have a range of events taking place throughout the day at the Festival HQ, Deaf Connections, open from …


… There will be an opportunity to join us in a short participative worship and then we will have three morning event slots and two afternoon event slots where you can choose what you want to attend. These activities will range from contributor talks and interactive seminars to walks that wander away from the Festival HQ and creative activities that will encourage us to think on our feet or with our hands and senses.

On Saturday, over both the morning and afternoon, the sessions will include John L. Bell on ‘Imagination – Dead or Alive’, Kathy Galloway on ‘Atrocity Tourism’, Debbie Lewer on ‘Wandering Artists and Radical Imagination’, Doug Gay on ‘Wondering about Christianity’, Graham Maule on ‘Counter Tourism’, Jo Love on ‘Ecclesiastes On The Hoof’, Pádraig Ó Tuama (2 sessions, on theology, poetry and story, titles to be confirmed), Lina Toth taking us on a ‘Musical Pilgrimage Around the World’, Gareth Higgins on ‘Get a Grip: Moving Stories’, Graham Whitehead on ‘Railway Lines’, Craig & Rachel Smillie ‘On The Camino’ and Ian Milligan leading us in a couple of panel sessions on ‘Wondering about the future?’ inviting us to articulate how we feel about the current social, psychological, political, environmental and constitutional issues … we’ll ask each other ‘where are we going?’ And consider: ‘how do we get there?’ …


… we will be showing the film Nae Pasaran, a documentary about “…the incredible impact made by Scottish factory workers 40 years ago against one of the most repressive dictatorships of the 20th century.” Kathy Galloway will be in conversation with Stuart Barrie, one of the workers who is featured in the film.

Later in the evening from after …


… we will have our magnificent Saturday night concert headliners — husband and wife duo Esther and Tim O’Connor, Ashton Lane, who are part of a new wave of homegrown modern country music originating in the UK. Last year Ashton Lane performed at the famous Country 2 Country festival in London, as well as receiving nominations in two categories at the British Country Music Awards. Support will be provided, followed by the late night ColumbaFest Sessions: a freewheeling, open-ended revelry of song, poetry and story.


Head and shoulders of Columba on yeloow background with Black and Blue text

SUNDAY 9th June

On Sunday morning at …


… we will begin at our festival partners Gorbal Parish Church with coffee and current affairs as Ian Milligan and James Cathcart lead the Breakfast Papers, an informal chat around the day’s news and a cuppa. We will flick through the pages, discussing current events and especially asking — Who are the wanderers and wonderers we want to travel with at this time? We will then gather at …


… to join with Gorbals Parish Church in their Pentecost worship service.

Afterwards, at the back of …


… we will head back along to the Festival HQ, Deaf Connections, for another few event slots where you can choose what to go to featuring poetry from Kenneth Steven, accompanied by the ColumbaFest Collective, with workshops from Alex Clare-Young on ‘Exploring Human Transformation’, Scott Robertson on ‘Wandering God’ and another interactive panel.


… we will gather together for a collaborative Big Sing led by the Wild Goose Resource Group and then we will share in a short closing worship to send us out, blessing for our journey, before we wander on to continue our wonderings on our way home, around …



Head and shoulders of Columba on yeloow background with Black and Blue text


Beyond all of this, and at various points and times throughout the weekend, there will be a variety of interactive solo and small group activities on the fringes of the festival, to help you reflectively and mindfully further explore and process your festival journey.

And this is not mentioning that other wonder of all festivals … the potential for the totally unplanned conversations and encounters with previously and known and unknown friends.

You’ll be able to find something to occupy even the smallest gaps and moments during the weekend.