Book Festival hits new heights in 2015

Edinburgh International Book Festival enjoyed its most successful summer ever in 2015, with hundreds of authors and events, hundreds of thousands of visitors, some big name appearances, and an amazing schools programme.

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The festival, which took place in the final two weeks of August, saw around 225,000 visits to its city-centre base at Charlotte Square Gardens, with visitors enjoying the square’s calm, leafy atmosphere, and attending the wide range of around 800 readings, talks and other events on offer.

The 2015 programme proved hugely popular, with a 2% increase in ticket sales on 2014, while the festival’s three on-site bookshops saw a 5% increase in sales – the highest sales in the 32 years of the Book Festival.

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said:

We’ve enjoyed a truly brilliant, exuberant and record-breaking festival this year – our most successful ever with record ticket and book sales. After the referendum in 2014 I wanted to cast our gaze a little further and look at Scotland’s place in the wider world.
It is an important time for us to look at our relationships with other cultures, languages and countries and we invited an extraordinary range of writers to share this with us.  Our audiences have embraced this, welcoming authors who have never been translated into English before, and engaging in a series of unforgettable conversations.

The festival hosted over 800 authors, representing 55 different countries, and explored its theme of Trading Stories through cross-border writer pairings looking at language differences and cultural barriers, and how literature and storytelling can work to overcome them. As part of its Booked! programme of events the Book Festival also took authors beyond Charlotte Square to schools, libraries, theatres and prisons.

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said:

The Edinburgh International Book Festival continues to go from strength to strength bringing great writing to thousands of people each year. This year’s international theme showed how literature is important to not only to culture but for discussing important ideas.
Through our Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund we supported the Trading Stories theme, woven throughout the Book Festival, which demonstrated how stories and language transcends boundaries.

Featured as part of the festival were big name guests, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, actor and writer Alan Cumming and First Minister Nicola Surgeon, in conversation with Scottish author Val McDermid.

There were also appearances from nine of this year’s thirteen Man Booker Prize nominees, as well as 56 debut novelists, performance poets Kate Tempest and George the Poet, Edinburgh hip hop artists Stanley Odd, children’s author Julia Donaldson and her husband Malcolm and Scottish musician Edwyn Collins and his wife Grace Maxwell, interviewed by Ian Rankin.

And younger fans were well taken care of too, with the Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme attracting almost 13,000 school children from across the country to enjoy appearances from Cressida Cresswell, Debi GlioriBrenton McKenna and Julian Clary among many others.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival will return from 13-29 August 2016, with the programme announced in June.

Images (clockwise from top left):

  • Charlotte Square Gardens
  • Alan Cumming
  • First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Val McDermid
  • Reading in the sunshine
  • Debi Gliori
  • Reverend Jesse Jackson

All images: Alan McCredie/Edinburgh International Book Festival

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