Dunblane Fling

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How it began…

 

Like many others, the Fling was conceived with the help of music and alcohol.  It began as an idea at the Dunblane Folk Club, among a group of people fond of music and fun.  At that time (around about 1992) the club held fundraising and social events from time to time, like a ceilidh every autumn and a cassette recording which raised over £2,000 for Children in Need (if you’re never heard of a cassette, it was a fiendish device for recording sound before the iPod was invented.  Yes, there was a time known as BP - Before Pod).

 

Historic Scotland had just began to allow weddings to be held at Doune Castle and in a fit of wild optimism someone suggested that the Club could hold it’s next ceilidh there.  But that seemed too expensive, so the idea grew - why not hold a whole weekend of folky events, which would pay for the ceilidh! From that wild idea sprang the notion of the Fling.  During the last weekend in May, a crowd of willing volunteers would book the Vicky Hall for a ceilidh, put on a concert, persuade Historic Scotland to let us use Doune Castle and add a few sessions in local pubs - there seemed nothing to it!

 

And so in May 1993 the first Fling happened. The first Fling ceilidh, held in the Victoria Hall, saw a packed crowd dancing to music by the Tattie Howkers. The Saturday concert featured Setanta, supported by local band Talisker, and was a great success. And on Sunday the 'Doune' bit of the Doune and Dunblane Fling saw the first fun day at Doune Castle, with everything from lace-making demonstrations and a treasure hunt to storytelling, music, dance, jesters and a ceilidh in the Great Hall with the Skelpit Lugs.

 

Since then the Fling has gone from strength to strength. Some years there's been a party up the length of Dunblane's High Street. Several times we've had a procession of hundreds of Harley Davidson bikers through the town. Doune Castle has seen everything from battle re-enactments and birds of prey to Greek dancers and African drummers. The folk club also began to host a 'survivors' party' on Sunday night, spiced with a late night curry generously donated each year by the local India Gate restaurant.

 

Somewhere along the line the first 'Fling by the River' began. Held each Fling Saturday on Dunblane's historic Drying Green, its activities have ranged from an open stage for local young musicians, fire engines, space-hopper races and fire-eating jugglers, to the annual Rotary Club race for 4,000 plastic ducks down the Allan Water.

 

Gradually a 'Fringe Fling' has developed, featuring over the years everything from ghost walks, pub quizzes, plays from the local Drama Group, master classes in everything from fiddling or mandolins to harmony singing or bodhran, and the now-annual Thursday Jazz Night. Every year outstanding special events have been held for children, often featuring the fun of making and performing a play in a day or the extraordinary skills of the Armagh Rhymers.

 

The event has now become a well-rooted local community weekend, and yet attracts visitors from far and wide. Today's Fling committee (which has now expanded beyond the folk club to include any enthusiastic and willing person) continues to build on what's popular, but keeps adding new ideas to the programme.