Planning Your Visit and Covid-19 Information

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On this page we’ve set out some notes and tips about your visit to The Swallow Theatre.  In particular you may have questions and concerns about returning to the theatre in relation to coronavirus. We are doing everything we can to make your visit safe. 

We have been granted use of UK Theatre’s ‘See It Safely’ mark for 2022. This certifies that we are complying with the latest Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, to ensure the safety of our performers and audiences.

Below are frequently asked questions about the measures we have been putting in place ready for your visit, and what you will need to know beforehand.

If there’s anything we’ve missed please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01988 850368 or

On the day of the show we are usually busy with the performers and getting ready so we often cannot answer the phone or pick up messages, so it’s best to contact as early as you can.

Our aim is to make The Swallow Theatre a magical, unique, COVID-safe destination for everyone to enjoy.

Some of our 2022 performances are planned to take place in our semi-open marquees which are in the garden.  There are two audience marquees which face towards a separate stage marquee.

If the weather is good, at least two sides of each audience marquee will be open.  If the weather is a bit dodgy, then we shall add extra wall panels to the audience marquees.

The audience tents are called ‘Ravenstone’ and ‘Castlewigg’ after the two hamlets nearest to the theatre.

Other performances will take place inside the theatre auditorium.

The webpage for each show clearly sets out whether the show is planned to be in the marquees or in the auditorium.

OK, so this is Dumfries and Galloway.  Southwest Scotland.  It rains.  The wind can be gusty.  The marquees are strong, sturdy constructions of flame-proof material with extra storm straps so they will be safe in all the conditions we typically experience here.  However, the noise of the rain on the marquee roofs, or the noise of the wind, could mean that it becomes difficult to hear the performers.  In this case, we shall move the performance into the auditorium.
All tickets have a guaranteed seat inside the auditorium should the show move inside.
The decision about whether the show moves into the auditorium or remains in the marquees is the responsibility of, and at the sole discretion of, the venue operators, in consultation with the performers.

Social distancing is no longer a legal requirement in Scotland.
For shows that take place inside the theatre auditorium there will be no social distancing.  Given our small seating capacity (typically 46 seats), it is not financially viable to host performances without all of the seats on sale.
For shows in the garden marquees, we shall still sell only 46 seats (in case the weather is bad and we have to move indoors), so there will be more space between rows.
We ask you to maintain a safe social distance wherever possible, especially when you are queuing to take your seats or for toilets or refreshments.
If the Scottish Government reintroduces social distancing, we shall of course comply, and we shall contact ticketholders if changes need to be made.

We totally understand that some people may not yet feel comfortable about sitting next to someone they don’t know, and some people may only willing to attend the theatre if their seat will be socially distanced.  We respect this, and if we were able to, we would love to have been able to offer some socially-distanced performances.  Unfortunately, because of the tiny size of the venue, the limited number of performances of each show, and being an independent and unfunded venue, this is just not financially viable.
However, if on the day of the performance there are tickets left, we would consider making some tickets available as socially-distanced seats.
If this is of interest, please email us and let us know a telephone number and how long you need to get here, and if socially-distanced seats are available at the last minute we shall contact you.

The marquees will be amply ventilated as at all times the front of the marquee and one side wall panel will remain open.
The theatre is a converted byre.   Pre-COVID we used to close all the air vents and run the heating so it was quite cosy, but now we shall have all the air vents open and keep the theatre doors open as much as possible.
In both spaces it could get chilly so please wear warm clothing and consider bringing a rug.

Tickets are available to purchase online, and we highly recommend you purchase tickets in advance.  If there are spare seats on the day, these will be available to buy on the door.
The booking system will show you a seating plan.  You can select your own allocated seat.
For all shows the seating plan will display the inside of theatre auditorium.  If you are booking for an outside show, the seat(s) you select will be the ones you have if the weather is bad and the show moves inside.  If the show can take place in the marquees, then we will allocate you a seat in the marquees that is in approximately the same position relative to the stage that you have booked for the wet-weather situation.
We welcome solo visitors to come to the theatre and there are plenty of seats available to be booked as singles.  We ask that if possible, the pairs of seats on the right-hand side of the aisle looking towards the stage are booked in groups of two.
We are no longer required to collect details for NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system.  We ask for the email address and a mobile phone number of the person making the booking.  This person is responsible for communicating any messages from us to the rest of the group.  If the Scottish Government brings in changes between booking and the performance date, requiring us to provide details to NHS Scotland Test and Protect, then we shall use the booking details you have provided for this purpose.

So that you can book your ticket in confidence and as soon as possible, we are offering a no-quibble refund policy*.  
If you or anyone in your group cannot attend, for any reason, and you email us at least 48 hours before the performance start time, we shall provide you with a refund of the price you paid, less £1.50 per seat to cover the box office and payment card fees we will have already incurred.  
If we as a venue have to cancel the performance ticketholders will be given an automatic full refund.
For those who wish to, there is an option to donate some or all of the ticket money to the theatre and the performers, but this is completely optional and not expected.

Please allow us 72 hours to process the refund, which will be made back to the card you used to make the payment.

* our refund policy does not apply to shows at the venue hosted by other organisations.  Currently there is only one show which is excluded: ‘Tickbox‘ on 24 May.  The exclusion is noted on the event description on our website.

The theatre is tucked away down some narrow lanes – you can download the directions here.  Please allow plenty of time to find us.  Some satnavs take you down a farm track – this is not necessary and really not a good idea unless you have a 4×4.  You can get to the theatre on proper roads (when we say “proper” we mean the rural definition, i.e. expect potholes and grass growing down the middle of the lane).
There is no public transport to the theatre, and the nearest bus stop is about 3 miles away.
You are welcome to arrive by bike, however please note that we do not have bike-racks or changing facilities.
Please allow plenty of time for your journey.  Latecomers may not be admitted if the show has started.
Our postcode is DG8 8DR.

Audience car parking is in the field opposite the theatre.  If the weather has been wet for several days before the show the field can get quite muddy. In some cases areas will be closed off – the rest of the field should be fine especially the higher parts.  Over the last few years we have put down a large area of grass mesh which means that tyres will not get stuck in mud.  Please drive slowly and carefully in the field.
It is then a short walk along the lane to the theatre site.  The lane can also get muddy so we recommend stout and waterproof footwear.  Please be aware of traffic.
In the dark you may wish to bring a torch as there are no street lights near the theatre – but there are excellent stars on a clear night!

We have an area of hardstanding disabled parking for two vehicles on the main theatre site, and you can also drop off people at the main gate.  Please email or phone us in advance to let us know you need to park in the disabled spaces so that we can co-ordinate requirements.

We ask guests to state the name of the person who booked the group.  We shall check you off our list of attendees.  We generally do not ask to see tickets, but please bring your ticket(s) with you, either printed or on your phone, in case of problems.  Please note we do not have public WiFi at the theatre, and mobile signal is poor, so please download your ticket in advance.
The site will be open from 45 minutes before the performance start time.
We ask you to be here at least 10 minutes before the performance time.  
If the show is in the marquees you will be able to take your seat as soon as you arrive.  If the show is in the auditorium you will be able to wait in the marquees and the garden, and we shall call people into the auditorium approximately 10 minutes before the start of the performance.

We are very sorry but latecomers cannot be admitted once the performance has started.  Please therefore allow plenty of time to get to the theatre, particular if you are not familiar with the route.
Also, once the show has started, we ask you to stay in your seat until the interval or end of the performance (we give the length of each performance on our website).  Unless of course there is a real emergency.
The reason for this is because there is only one audience door, and it leads directly onto the stage.
One of the joys of theatre is to be in a dedicated space, focussing on the performance, with a group of like-minded audience members, and a cast of actors or musicians who are presenting that event uniquely and exclusively for the people in the room, all reacting off each other’s responses to the show.  In our opinion this is what makes live performance so special. 

So that the atmosphere is not broken, and to be fair to the performers and the other audience members, we therefore have a no-latecomers policy.

We provide audience chairs within the marquees and in the auditorium.  
If you require a wheelchair space or you have mobility problems or other requirements please let us know in advance and we shall do our best to help you.

In line with Scottish Government guidance, we strongly recommend and encourage wearing a face covering when you are inside the theatre auditorium, unless you are in one of the groups that were previously exempt.

Please keep your belongings to a minimum and with you at all times. 
We do not have cloakroom facilities.
You may like to bring with you a cushion, a rug, insect repellent, sun cream, sun hat/sun visor, and a torch.  It could get very cold, so please bring suitable clothing.
Please note that chairs are provided for all performances, both indoors and outdoors.
Unless the show specifically invites you to bring a picnic, please do not bring picnics into the theatre site.  You are welcome to eat a picnic in the car park.  There are several beautiful beaches a short drive away.

Dogs are not allowed on the theatre site, except for assistance dogs – please notify us in advance.

Please turn your phone completely off, or to flight mode, before entering the auditorium.  Given the small space, if a phone is able to receive signals (even if it is switched to silent) then it can interfere with our sound equipment and generate a buzzing sound on the stage.
Please do not take photos or videos during the performance.  This can be disruptive to the performers and to other audience members.
We usually take photographs and videos of performances in an unobtrusive way.  We try not to publish identifiable images of audience members but please see our terms and conditions for full details about filming and photography.

We offer a limited selection of refreshments including wine and beer, luxury soft drinks, Fairtrade filter coffee, tea and hot chocolate, biscuits and Cream o’ Galloway ice cream.
Drinks can be served in a compostable disposable cup and we ask that no glass or china is taken into the theatre auditorium.
Please unwrap any sweets or biscuits you want to take into the auditorium in advance – wrappers can be very loud when they crinkle, and it’s a very small space, so we’ll all hear it.
We accept payment by contactless card and by cash.  Receipts will not be issued: if you require a receipt let the server know and one will be emailed to you in the 72 hours following the show.
Only drinks purchased from us are to be consumed on the theatre site – by buying a drink from us you are helping support the theatre.  You are welcome to bring your own water bottle.

We shall not be checking temperatures unless this becomes a mandatory requirement.
If you or any of your group develop a temperature is 37.8C or higher, or show any other symptoms of coronavirus, please do not attend.

We prefer that all visitors are fully vaccinated, but we shall not be checking this.

Lateral Flow Testing is now ended in Scotland for most people.

In line with Scottish Government guidance, we ask you to stay at home if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection such as coronavirus and have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to carry out normal activities.

We have two audience toilets, both unisex. One is a large cubicle with wide access and grip handles.

Wash basins are located within each cubicle and paper towels are provided.

Hand sanitiser is available on entry and exit.

We have undertaken a full COVID-19 risk assessment, in addition to our normal operating risk assessments.

We have signed up to the See It Safely scheme organised by Society Of London Theatre & UK Theatre, and also supported by the Federation of Scottish Theatre. This means we pledge to follow the latest Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines as well as additional requirements set by the scheme. We have lodged our Covid risk assessment with the scheme and agreed to spot-checks.

To keep you safe, we will be cleaning the venue before every performance and regularly disinfecting.

Please use the hand sanitiser provided around the site.

We will be ensuring that you have maximum flexibility by allowing tickets to be refunded up to 48 hours prior to the performance – so if someone in your party feels ill, there’s no need to worry. You are also welcome to pass your ticket to someone else to use instead.

If you display COVID-19 symptoms, follow the instructions at

You are welcome to enjoy the theatre garden.  Please note that after wet weather there is a large pond so young children and vulnerable people should be looked after.  Watch out for uneven ground, and for guy-ropes around the marquees.

Our address is ‘Moss Park’ and in Scots the word ‘moss’ means bog.  We are surrounded by cattle fields.  And we have a nature pond.  So we do tend to have a few midges flying around on warm still nights.  They are a bit annoying but they don’t bite much.  We recommend you put on some of your favourite anti-insect repellent before visiting.  

We run the garden as much as possible on an organic and wildlife friendly basis.
Overall the site is approximately 3 acres.  We have lots of plans for the space, which if we are honest, are beyond our current time availability, budget and skill level!  But they give us immense pleasure and we hope regular visitors will enjoy following our progress.  Current projects include:-

  • ‘The Long Border’ – straight ahead as you walk onto the performance lawn, behind the Castlewigg Tent, this used to be an area of rough grass and wildflowers.  We are slowly converting it to a herbaceous border.
  • ‘The White Garden’ – the tiny triangle on your right as you enter the performance lawn.  The plan is for an area of white flowers which will look magical at dusk.  OK not really working yet, but we’ll get there.
  • ‘The field’ – the triangle behind the card park now has four fruit trees and more will be planted in autumn.  We are mowing more of the field each year in preparation for planting. 
  • The road border’ – the little strip between the car park and the site entrance.  Over winter we’ve planted this with low-growing evergreen flowering ground cover.
  • ‘The mound’ – the tangle of shrubs on the left on the path down to the theatre.  We have a plan, but it will take a lot of effort to get this how we want.
  • ‘The rain garden’ – we’d love to convert the (not-always-a) pond into a rain garden.  This is a concept of an area of ground that looks good in both drought and flood, and contains plants designed to cope with both.
The Swallow Theatre

Moss Park




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