Onwards and Upwards: 2021 Book Festival Programme Announced

Book - Header

The programme for th 2021 Edinburgh International Book Festival [14-30 August] has been announced, with an aim to explore together how to move ‘Onwards and Upwards’ from this devastating pandemic. 

Although the Festival can’t promise sun, it will be bringing hundreds of the world’s best writers and thinkers to take part in live conversations this August, including events with Nobel Prize winners Amartya Sen and Kazuo Ishiguro, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Booker Prize winners Salman Rushdie, Bernardine Evaristo, Richard Flanagan and Scotland's own Douglas Stuart (with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon) and many more. You can browse the entire programme now – where you'll find plenty to enterain, challenge and inspire.

This year the Festival is exploring stories and ideas for a changing world, one dealing with the impact of Covid-19, climate change, poverty, inequality and the varied effects of technology, with authors, politicians, doctors and others discussing the overlapping crises we face – and how we can move forward. Other key themes for 2021 include an interrogation of Britain's history of colonialism, a celebration of LGBTQIA+ voices, a look at the importance of our bodies in shaping our sense of self, and more - visit the Themes page and explore the programme through the prism of some of this year's most important and interesting topics.

During the Festival dates enjoy more than 250 events for adults, children and families online, all available to watch on a Pay What You Can basis. Online events offer the opportunity to chat with fellow book lovers and connect with authors by asking questions in our live Q&As. You can also catch up on events at a time that suits, and there’s unlimited ticket availability for the online programme, so you needn't worry about missing out. Visit our How To Book page for all the information you'll need.

In this exciting new chapter for the Book Festival, a wide range of the live-streamed events will also have in-person audiences at our new Festival home, the University of Edinburgh's Edinburgh College of Art. Around half of our participants will appear in person in Edinburgh, while others join digitally from their homes around the world. 

The Book Festival Bookshop will open its doors again during this year’s Festival and you’ll find it located in the beautiful Old Fire Station building at the new site on Lauriston Place. The online bookshop is open 24/7 and will feature titles from authors in the 2021 programme. Selected authors will be offering book signings online and in-person too.

Of course, the Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme is full of fun for all ages – with 60 events to take part in from home including readings, draw-alongs, and dancing.We’re also excited to launch a new series of pre-recorded, audio-only events, available from the very start of the Festival, and a range of walking tours and family trails around Edinburgh.

Over 60 of our online events offer BSL Interpretation or Live Captions courtesy of StageText - you can find a list of these events in our What's On section. We're pleased to once again offer an interactive event designed especially for those with learning disabilities focused on the wonderful new picture book You Can! by Alexandra Strick and illustrator Steve Antony, created with the support of our friends at PAMIS.

There's plenty more to see and discover in our packed 2021 programme. The Book Festival is for everyone – whether you are in a position to pay for a ticket or not, whether you join us in person or from your sofa – so join the conversation this August as we all try to make sense of our changing world.

Share this article

Jump to sign up form

Keep Up to Date

Sign up for Festival Updates
Back to top ↑