Our last top ten was quite a hit, and since everyone loves a literary festival, we’ve decided to compile our top ten in Scotland, in no particular order!
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Image credit: edinburghfestivallist.co.uk
The titan of Scottish book festivals, the Edinburgh Book Festival has come a long way since its inception in 1983, when it hosted just 30 ‘Meet the Author’ events – now numbering 220,000 visitors a year, 700 events and 800 authors, it’s considered the largest book festival in the world, with readings, book signings, debates, workshops and much more. Located in a tented village in Edinburgh’s New Town for the second half of August, the quantity is genuinely staggering and offers something for everyone, children and adults alike.
13-29 August 2016
Wigtown Book Festival
Image credit: cargocollective.com
As Scotland’s National Book Town, Wigtown in Galloway offers a ten-day celebration of all things literary. With an array of events as diverse as local history and cookery, the festival aims to be a welcome reminder that cities don’t have a monopoly on culture and debate: after all, as the promoters themselves say, maybe “country mice” can even teach their urban cousins a thing or two?
23 September – 2 October 2016
Image credit: roarforscotland.com
Glasgow’s very own book festival celebrated its first decade this year: taking place in two jam-packed weeks in April at the Mitchell Library, the festival emphasises local and national writing with some international authors thrown in, allowing for an exciting mix of big names and new talent. Aye Write’s programme is wide-ranging and always interesting: look out for the SWC hosting our own speakeasy as part of the festival!
Dundee Literary Festival
Image credit: literarydundee.co.uk
Run by Literary Dundee, a cultural organisation that forms part of the University of Dundee, this year’s book festival took place in October and included a wide assortment of events, from celebrated Scottish poet Janice Galloway to showcases from the university’s own creative writing programme. And, of course, we can’t forget the Dundee International Book Prize, the UK’s premier prize for first-time novelists now in its twelfth year – won this year by talented Swede, Martin Cathcart Froden.
Bloody Scotland: Scotland’s International Crime Festival
Image credit: bbc.co.uk
Not for the faint-hearted, this three day event in Stirling focuses entirely upon crime fiction, a genre in which Scots seem to particularly shine. With crime heavyweights such as Val McDermid and Martina Cole among its line-up, the festival also offers crime writing masterclasses and the Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year dinner, as well as a short story competition that runs alongside the main festival.
9 – 11 September 2016
Image credit: ayrshirecollections.co.uk
Located in East Ayrshire, Imprint Festival has a varying programme: this year incorporating Glasgow-based crime fiction, and a Gaelic Evening (subsidised by the Gaelic Book Council) telling the story of Ethel McCallum, whose stories, books and music are part of a movement to support the Gaelic language. The festival also runs an Imprint Writing Award for writers based in Ayrshire, judged anonymously by University of Glasgow Creative Writing tutor and Imprint patron Zoe Strachan.
Borders Book Festival
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Set in the National Trust’s Harmony Garden in Melrose, the Borders Book Festival is definitely eclectic: with multimedia arts, music (including Scottish Opera) and an extensive selection of cafes and bars in which to soak up the literary atmosphere. There’s plenty of book-related fun too – with its author events, festival bookshop and the prestigious Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, numbering Martin Amis and Helen Dunmore among the shortlist next year.
16-19 September 2016
Boswell Book Festival
Image credit: boswelltrust.com
The world’s only festival of biography and memoir, Boswell Book Festival is named after James Boswell, the inventor of the modern biography. This year the festival attracted authors such as Ian Rankin and Joanna Lumley, and it also has its own Family Fun Day and Schools’ Day – a move to encourage children’s love of literature.
6-8 May 2016
Scottish International Storytelling Festival
Image credit: tracscotland.org
Edinburgh’s alternative literary festival, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, focuses (unsurprisingly) upon the art of storytelling and oral tradition; for ten days in October, the festival utilises the Scottish tradition of the ceilidh, with its history of ballads, anecdotes and the live telling of tales. Informal and occasionally improvised, this festival places an emphasis upon the imagination of the audience and the revival of an underappreciated art.
21-30 October 2016
Nairn Book & Arts Festival
Image credit: nairnfestival.co.uk
Running since 2004, this seaside Highland town offers a miscellaneous programme, of comedy, visual art, film, dance, music and, of course, literature. Previous authors have included Carol Ann Duffy, A.L. Kennedy and Michel Faber, and the town’s established cultural reputation – the Nairn Jazz Festival is another of the town’s artistic outpourings – has served to make the festival a sure success.
30 August – 4 September 2016
Words by Rachel Walker