The wait is over for book lovers

The marquees are up, the stages are set, for the hotly-anticipated Borders Book Festival, which begins tonight and entertains until Sunday evening.
Festival directors Paula Ogilvie and Alistair Moffat at Harmony House with the programme for this year's four-day spectacular. Photo: Johnston Montgomery.Festival directors Paula Ogilvie and Alistair Moffat at Harmony House with the programme for this year's four-day spectacular. Photo: Johnston Montgomery.
Festival directors Paula Ogilvie and Alistair Moffat at Harmony House with the programme for this year's four-day spectacular. Photo: Johnston Montgomery.

Well-known names from the worlds of stage and screen, current affairs, politics, literature, and sport will take to the stage at the festival against the stunning backdrop of Melrose’s Harmony Garden.

The festival opens to a literary fanfare with the announcement of the winner of one of the UK’s leading literary prizes, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

All seven shortlisted authors – Lucy Caldwell, Adrian Duncan, Robert Harris, Elizabeth Lowry, Fiona McFarlane, Simon Mawer and Devika Ponnambalam – will converge from across the globe to hear the £25,000 winner announcement live on stage.

Festival director Alistair Moffat.Festival director Alistair Moffat.
Festival director Alistair Moffat.

The packed programme continues, including: Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham; ex Labour Leader and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown; former Strictly judge and dance sensation Dame Arlene Phillips; actor and impressionist Jon Culshaw; comedian and ventriloquist Nina Conti (and Monkey); prize-winning novelists Douglas Stuart, Robert Harris and Sebastian Barry; beloved sports commentators Archie Macpherson, Pat Nevin and Andrew Cotter; tennis champion and coach turned novelist Judy Murray; civil rights campaigner and distinguished lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy KC; Britain’s greatest archaeologist Sir Barry Cunliffe; leading political analyst Prof. John Curtice; and peeress and socialite Lady Anne Glenconner.

Joining the line-up, too, will be stars of the TV hit show The Great British Bake Off, Peter Sawkins,Giuseppe Dell’Anno and Rahul Mandal; long-time festival favourites Sally Magnusson and James Naughtie; award-winning Kenyan-Scottish storyteller Mara Menzies; multi-million-selling novelist Jenny Colgan; and crime-writing royalty Val McDermid, Christopher Brookmyre, Mark Billingham and Doug Johnstone, who are also all part of the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers who will close the festival on Sunday.

Veteran Borders Book Festival guest Rory Bremner will present a very special event with fellow comedian

Shaparak Khorsandi about their shared diagnosis of ADHD.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Principal Sponsor Baillie Gifford is sponsoring a number of events, including maritime archaeologist

Mensun Bound

talking about the discovery of Shackleton’s ship Endurance and sports adventurer

Mollie Hughes on exploring Scotland’s wild waters. As National Media Partner,

The Financial Times is hosting a series of events, including: former Celtic and Ireland manager

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Martin O’Neill on his football career spanning five decades; The FT’s chief economics commentator

Martin Wolf explaining the crisis of democratic capitalism and how to fix it; as well as tips on navigating the cost of living crisis with practical money-saving advice and habit-changing tips from

The FT’s consumer editor Claer Barrett and The Batch Lady Suzanne Mulholland.

The McInroy & Wood Lecture is this year with

Kate Bingham, who has written a compelling account of her role

as Chair of the UK’s Covid-19 vaccine taskforce and the

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

race to get Britain vaccinated and out of lockdown. She will be in conversation with journalist

Tim Hames and Book Festival chairman Michael Moore.

This year the Book Festival will mark the Tercentenary of the birth of Scottish philosopher and economist Adam Smith, with events sponsored by the Scottish Mortgage Investment

Trust, including prominent French-British writer Philippe Sands KC, winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction for

East West Street, and ex Bishop of Edinburgh and acclaimed broadcaster

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Richard Holloway paying tribute to the pioneering political thinker.

Festival Director Alistair Moffat said:

“It’s wonderful to see the marquees up in Harmony Garden once more and the stage set for our 20th

edition of the Borders Book Festival. We look forward to welcoming back our audiences, authors and supporters to four glorious days of lively debate, fun and laughter.

“Ticket sales this year have proved the appetite is back for live events – nothing beats it! Some events may have sold out, including Gordon Brown, Andy Burnham and Anne

Glenconner, but there’s still plenty on

offer – it’s not too late, and tickets can even

be purchased on the day.”

The Children’s Programme,

sponsored by Baillie Gifford,

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

takes place throughout the day on the Saturday and Sunday (17th & 18th

June), packed with exciting author events, including: award-winning author and illustrator

Lauren Child; firm-favourite Vivian French; Martin Brown celebrating 30 years of Horrible Histories; and the wildly entertaining

Kjartan Poskitt. In addition, there will be free kids’ craft activities, storytelling

and interactive creative workshops.

Following the announcement of the winner of this year’s

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, the shortlisted authors will join a panel of distinguished guests at Bowhill, the Duke of Buccleuch’s home, on Friday (16th

June), for a special colloquium event discussing the past, present and future of the historical fiction genre.

Throughout the four days, there will also be live music, the Orchard tented food village, and a plethora of free, fun activities, making the Borders Book Festival a great day out for all

the family to enjoy.

Michelle McLeod, Sponsorship Manager at Baillie Gifford, said:

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It’s exciting to see another impressive cast of writers, thinkers and entertainers coming to Harmony Garden. We are very much looking forward to being amongst the festivalgoers and

enjoying all that this brilliant Festival has to offer.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said:

“EventScotland is proud to support the Borders Book Festival in this momentous year. Celebrating its 20th

anniversary, the Festival’s impressive programme

brings together some of the country’s top literary talent, as well as announcing the winner of the coveted Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.  Funded through our National Events Programme, festivals like this play an integral role in positioning Scotland

as the perfect stage for events. They not only shine a spotlight on our culture but also deliver positive economic and social impacts”.

Harriet MacMillan,

Literature Officer at Creative Scotland, said:

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Huge congratulations to Borders Book Festival on an outstanding roster of authors for their 20th

anniversary year. From leading commentators, politicians, TV personalities, actors, comedians and

civil rights campaigners, alongside award-winning storytellers and

novelists, this year’s programme really does have something for everyone.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

 “With live music, food, and an exciting range of free, fun activities, the Borders Book Festival is a great day out for all the family and an important part of the Borders’ cultural

calendar. The Schools Programme in September is particularly exciting, engaging up to 65 primary schools and working with award-winning children’s authors. The

Festival represents an extremely rich opportunity

for the local Borders community to connect with stellar voices from Scotland's literary scene and beyond.”

Tickets now available at​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​