Book Festival is hailed a success

Organisers of the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival have hailed its one-off move to Abbotsford a resounding success.

Borders Book Festival goers queue up for an event. Photo: Lloyd Smith.
Borders Book Festival goers queue up for an event. Photo: Lloyd Smith.

From Tuesday through to Sunday, 10,500 book-lovers streamed into the two main marquees set up in the grounds of Sir Walter Scott’s famous house, the festival moving there this year to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth.

Attendees were enthralled to hear about the ship Erebus from former Monty Python star Michael Palin, listen to former politician Ed Balls’ love affair with food, laughed along with festival stalwart Rory Bremner, and heard interesting insights into everything from parliament to the Financial Times newspaper, to the Great British Bake Off tent.

With Covid-19 restrictions still being in place earlier in the year, it meant that it had moved from June to November, but for director Alastair Moffat, it was just brilliant to see it happen.

Monty Python legend Michael Palin was a highlight on the Wednesday. Photo: Lloyd Smith

Alastair, who said his personal highlight was the appearance of Jim Telfer, Finlay Calder and Tom English, who were talking about the British Lions tour of 1997, said: “It was great fun.

"Michael Palin was so warm and welcoming and this was the first time he’d been away from home since 2020, so it was wonderful for him to do this for us, and Rory Bremner was just on fire.

“What was great was that the whole festival had great sparkle and warmth, and we were doing it again, which was brilliant.”

A few gigs had to be cancelled on Saturday and Sunday morning due to high winds, but it’s hoped that the return to Harmony House in Melrose next June will be less weather-threatened.

Selkirk's Batch Lady, Suzanne Mulholland, signing books for her fans. Photo: Bill McBurnie.
Finlay Calder; Ian Landles; Richard Scott, 4th Duke of Buccleuch; and Billy Gillies. Photo: Bill McBurnie.
Ed Milliband. Photo: Lloyd Smith
Ed Balls talked about the importance of cooking in his life. Photo: Rob Gray.
Rory Bremner.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in full flow. Photo: Rob Gray.