All you need to know about the Book Festival
What is the Edinburgh International Book Festival?
The Edinburgh International Book Festival is one of the world’s most distinctive international showcases celebrating the written word, literature and ideas. It brings leading and emerging international, British and Scottish authors and thinkers together to inspire each other and audiences in an extensive programme of public events. Discussion, performance and interactive events have become prominent features of the Festival, complementing the more traditional interview-style conversations and readings, and contributing to the Book Festival’s reputation as a powerful forum for the public to exchange views with writers and experts on a wide range of issues: social, ethical and political as well as literary and cultural.
Where does it all happen?
All but one of the venues is located within the grounds and buildings of the Book Festival Village, in their new home at Edinburgh College of Art, 74 Lauriston Place in central Edinburgh EH3 9DF. The event venues are dotted around the Festival Village, with the exception of Central Hall, which is a six-minute walk away at 2 West Tollcross, Edinburgh EH3 9BP. The Village is open every day during the Festival from 9:30 until 23:30.
When does it all happen?
The programme launch usually taking place in early June and this year the festival runs from Saturday 13th August to Monday 29th August.
So what’s on this year?
- More than 600 events featuring over 550 authors, performers, musicians and thinkers from 50 countries will take place at the Edinburgh College of Art but with a new site layout to accommodate more events and bigger audience.
- Amongst the hundreds of authors taking part this year are Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, Vietnamese American poet Ocean Vuong, Outlander writer Diana Gabaldon, as well as Noam Chomsky, Jack Monroe, Alexander McCall Smith, Denise Mina, William Dalrymple and Armando Iannucci.
- New books will be launched and discussed including by Maggie O'Farrell [Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 winner] and her hotly-anticipated novel The Marriage Portrait, Irvine Welsh talks for the first time about his new crime novel The Long Knives, Monica Ali introduces her first novel for a decade and the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Abdulrazak Gurnah, talks about his novel Afterlives.
- Artistic boundaries will be crossed in events featuring world-famous musicians including Martha Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker, Vashti Bunyan, and Deacon Blue’s Ricky Ross. And in waht will surely be a festival highlight First Minister Nicola Sturgeon interviews screen legend Brian Cox about a life on the Scottish stage and his role in television hit series Succession. .
Are there any events for children?
Yes, the Festival has a programme of events dedicated to children. The Book Festival’s Baillie Gifford Children’s programme of author events, activities and workshops is produced for young audiences of all ages, from babies to teenagers, attracting family audiences of around 20,000 each year. In addition, an extensive schools programme is created for primary and secondary pupils, with around 14,000 school children attending each year. Use the event search to find events for children or visit their families page.
Are any events online?
Around 200 of the events will be livestreamed for you to watch from home, with a Pay What You Can ticket price, and most will be available to watch on-demand afterwards. Check the event pages to see how long your event is available The Pay What You Can pricing helps make the Book Festival accessible to those with limited means. A standard priced ticket is £14 for adult events and £5 for children’s events, but paying more for your ticket helps us to continue to offer Pay What You Can pricing and supports those who need it most.
Where can I find the programme?
Where can I buy tickets?
- Use the search filters to explore the programme line-up on the events page. You can browse events by child’s age, category, theme or author. You can enter any word(s) into the keyword search to find events that suit your interests. Once you’ve found an event, click into the event page. Use booking buttons to add tickets to your shopping basket.
- If you are unable to book tickets on the website our Box Office phoneline is 0345 373 5888. Please note:the Festival has a small friendly team dealing with phone bookings and enquiries; please only use the phoneline if you cannot book on the website. It will help to reduce wait times for customers who cannot book in any other way or need assistance. They will do our best to deal with calls quickly, however you may not get through immediately. Calls are charged at the same rate as a local call to a landline. Please check your mobile contract as network charges may differ.
- The in-person Box Office counter is available during the run of the Festival only. You can find it in our Festival Village at Edinburgh College of Art, just at the entrance. It opens daily from Saturday 13 August: 09:30–20:45 until the last day of the Festival on Monday 29 August.
- For more detailed guidance see https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/how-to-book
How long do events last?
The majority of events last one hour. Occasionally some events may be 75 or 90 minutes or even up to two hours long and events for very young children are often less than an hour. Check the end time of events when booking – each is detailed on the online event listing.
Are latecomers admitted?
Out of consideration to audience members and authors, the Festival does not admit latecomers once the doors have been closed to an event, or give refunds on latecomers' tickets. However, they understand people with young children may need to leave an event unexpectedly and they will help you exit as discreetly as possible, and get you back in again should you want to return. Please be sure to allow yourself enough time to get to the venue and get seated before the event start time. The Festival site may be busy with many people milling around, and it may take longer than usual to walk across it to your venue.
Is the Festival accessible?
Can I bring my dog onto site?
Well-behaved dogs are allowed on site. Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times and their mess cleaned up.
Can I buy books in the Book Festival Village?
Yes, from their own bookshops which are owned and operated by the Festival which means all profit is put directly back into the Festival itself. Any purchase you make on site, however small, is a valuable contribution to the ongoing development of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The Book Festival Bookshop in the festival village is located in the beautiful old Fire Station building on Lauriston Place. It is open daily during the Book Festival and stocks titles by all our visiting authors plus an array of related contemporary literature and books from Scottish publishers.
Where can I eat and drink?
The Book Festival Village offers a range of places to buy food and drink, including an indoor Café, which is a large and airy space with a lovely vantage point across the main courtyard. There are also outdoor seating areas, some of which are undercover, along with a variety of areas to buy hot and cold drinks and snacks. You’re welcome to bring your own food and soft drinks into the Book Festival Village and relax on the grass for as long as you want – you don’t have to have bought a ticket to see an event. There is a drinking water tap for you to fill up your water bottles. You can also view a wider selection of city bars, cafes and restaurants at https://www.edinburghfestivalcity.com/news/1445-eating-drinking-in-our-festival-city
Are their toilets in the Festival Village?
Toilets for everyone are located in the paved area at the rear of the Book Festival Bookshop, including a standard Disabled Toilet and a Changing Places Toilet (with a hoist). Access to the toilets is via a ramp from the courtyard.
And finally, how did it all begin?
With the encouragement of the Edinburgh International Festival a committee was formed under Lord Balfour of Burleigh to organise a book fair with funding from the Scottish Arts Council. The first fair took place in 1983 and was an instant success with 120 authors attending, including John Updike and Anthony Burgess. “Meet the author” events, and the inspired decision to have a children’s fair, attracted 30,000 visitors. The fair became a festival, held biennially until 1997 when its growing popularity warranted the transition to an annual event. The current director Nick Barley, appointed in October 2009, is the sixth festival director, succeeding Catherine Lockerbie who occupied the role for nine years