The legendary “Voice of Golf” Peter Alliss will open the 10th Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival when the curtain goes up later today.
Alliss’s appearance is one of several sell-out shows at this year’s event, and he is joined on the opening day of the 2013 festival by favourite regulars Alexander McCall Smith, Tom Conti and Allan Massie, one of Britain’s bestselling historical novelists, Simon Scarrow, and by the author of a fascinating account of life as a base camp doctor in Antarctica, Gavin Francis.
Throughout the four days, the festival welcomes back several familiar faces and regular events from the last 10 years, but also introduces some new ones, and stages some events which are completely unique to the festival.
These include a specially- commissioned theatrical performance of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem The Lay of the Last Minstrel, with Joanna Lumley taking a lead role; the announcement of the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2013; a rare appearance by the “father of Tartan Noir”, William McIlvanney; best-selling writers Dame Stella Rimington, Kate Mosse and Tom Holland, and raconteur extraordinaire John Sessions.
Other not-to-be missed events include appearances by one of Britain’s most lauded writers, Hilary Mantel; a hilarious double-act with two fiction writers, Mark Billingham and Christopher Brookmyre; Neil Oliver on the Vikings; Gary Mulgrew, one of the NatWest Three speaking about his gruelling experiences; the return of the popular format Melrose Mastermind, with Sally Magnusson again in the chair and a new but equally-erudite panel; the actress Phyllida Law speaking about her account of caring for her mother as she struggled with dementia; and a series of events marking the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Everest.
The Family Book Festival promises a treat for families, from Sally Magnusson’s ‘Horace the Haggis Hunter’, Francesca Simon’s ‘Horrid Henry’, Laura Dockrill’s ‘Darcy Burdock’ and Lauren Child’s ‘Ruby Redfort’ for younger children, to cutting-edge fiction for older children, including bestselling authors Darren Shan and Charlie Fletcher.
The live events with Peter Alliss, Joanna Lumley, Hilary Mantel, Stella Rimington and Neil Oliver are all sold out at the time of writing, but tickets are available for the streaming of Hilary Mantel, Stella Rimington and Neil Oliver’s events into separate marquees within the festival site.
There are some family day passes still available for both Saturday and Sunday. For just £30, a family of two adults and up to three children can see up to five or six events in a day, which is great value for a family coming to the book festival.
One of the UK’s most prestigious book prizes, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, and worth £25,000, will be announced at a public event tomorrow at 7.45pm.
The Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival takes place at Harmony Garden in Melrose and, as ever, it will provide further inspiration in its well-stocked bookshop, plus refreshment at Marmion’s Café Bar and Over Langshaw Farmhouse’s ice-cream stand. There will be free wi-fi around the garden courtesy of GB Telecom, and lots of free outdoor entertainment for children.
Festival director Alistair Moffat told The Southern: “In 10 years, we have grown from one evening in the Wynd Theatre to a four-day event in Harmony Garden welcoming 13,000 people – a vital driver for the local tourist economy.”
The Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival takes place in Harmony Garden, Melrose, from today until Sunday and the full programme is available at www.bordersbookfestival.org.
Ticket prices range from £5 to £14. Box Office: 0844 357 1060 and online.