The home of Sir Walter Scott opened its doors on Tuesday 2nd November to the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival, bringing together a host of big names from politics, sport, history, crime and current affairs in more than 60 live events over six days.
The Book Festival kicked off in style with a stellar line-up: Ed Balls sharing his very personal Appetite: A Memoir in Recipes of Family and Food; acclaimed author of Rose Nicolson, Andrew Greig; sports giants Tom English, Jim Telfer and Finlay Calder reliving the 1997 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa; festival favourites Neil Oliver and Richard Holloway sharing their most recent works, The Story of the World in 100 Moments, and The Heart of Things; and the BBC’s Gavin Esler challenging festivalgoers to consider the rise of nationalism south of the border in the FTWeekend event, It’s About English, Stupid.
Alistair Moffat, Festival Director, said:
“Putting a book festival together during a pandemic is no easy task, but we have got the most phenomenal line-up of first-class speakers and cannot wait to get our audiences along to beautiful Abbotsford to give them a thoroughly intoxicating reintroduction to the live book events we have all missed so much. And of course, safety remains our key priority, so our extended 6-day extravaganza allows us to adhere to all Government Covid-19 guidelines without detracting from the sense of occasion and excitement at our return.
As always, we are bringing to the Borders stars from the worlds of politics, sport, history, crime writing, acclaimed literature and current affairs. And the venue this year seems particularly fitting, given the 250th celebrations of Sir Walter Scott, our country’s greatest-ever storyteller.
I’m beyond excited at the prospect of six days of immersion in great writing, in all its forms, and scintillating, inspiring debate — in person!”
Political highlights include: Ed Miliband with his Go Big: How To Fix Our World; former Prime Minister Gordon Brown on his manifesto to change the world; Robert Peston, straight from the Cop26 summit in Glasgow; a unique record of history as it was made in Downing Street from Theresa May’s Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell and the inimitable James Naughtie with his annual political round-up (which will cover two years in politics, this time around!).
For history and crime enthusiasts: Jonathan Dimbleby discusses his Barbarossa: How Hitler Lost the War; Booker Prize winner, and this year’s winner of the prestigious Walter Scott Prize For Historical Fiction, Hilary Mantel, makes a very special festival visit with The Mirror and the Light; and crime-writing royalty Denise Mina, Ian Rankin, Ambrose Parry and Val McDermid talking about their latest novels.
Sports fans have plenty to enjoy with footballing legend Pat Nevin, on his memoir The Accidental Footballer; one of Scotland’s finest rugby players Gavin Hastings; Rory Bremner sharing classic moments of sporting commentary with his indomitable take on the likes of John Motson, Murray Walker, Peter Allis and of course Geoffrey Boycott; and for something entirely different Finlay Wilson with his Wild Kilted Yoga.
This year, foodies can feast their ears on Great British Bake Off winner Peter Sawkins and Suzanne Mulholland, The Batch Lady, with her new and delicious ways to cook wholesome, homely food in bulk – perfect for an autumnal day in the Borders!
Michelle McLeod, Sponsorship Manager at Baillie Gifford said:
“It is fantastic to be back to live events, all in the grounds of stunning Abbotsford. The festival team have worked tirelessly to deliver this year’s programme. Come along and enjoy everything the festival has to offer, including an incredible variety of events and an opportunity to hear from some of our most treasured writers.”
Giles Ingram, Abbotsford CEO, said:
“What a fantastic line up of authors and public figures spanning current affairs, sports, food and more, as well as my favourite theme, historical fiction. We are delighted that the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival has chosen Abbotsford as their venue during the 250th anniversary year of Sir Walter Scott. Do make sure you take time to savour Scott’s study, where the great man sat at his desk for countless hours with quill pen in hand, dreaming up stories which still stir the imaginations of readers today. With such celebrated writers visiting us for the Book Festival, one can only imagine how excited Scott would be were he alive and at home today!”
The McInroy and Wood Lecture will this year feature Daily Telegraph journalist Joe Shute exploring how, where and why our weather is changing and delivering a timely and important forecast for us all, in his Diary of the Lost Seasons.
The book festival is delighted to welcome the Financial Times as its new media partner, and this year’s festival programme will include FTWeekend events addressing some of the biggest political and economic issues of the day – Afghanistan, defining Scottishness and Englishness, and the question of a Scottish sovereign currency – with some of the brightest minds from the worlds of journalism, politics, economics, diplomacy and academia including Gavin Esler, Ailsa Henderson, Sebastian Payne and Sir John Kay. Lionel Barber, former editor of the Financial Times, will replace Tom Tugendhat MP, who is, unfortunately, unable to attend in-person.
The weekend (6th and 7th November) sees the return of the always-popular Family Book Festival, sponsored by Saltire Roofing & Building, and including: Kristina Stephenson and her Museum of Marvellous Things; Alan Windram and his latest One Button Benny adventure; a relaxing colouring session with Eilidh Muldoon; Blue Peter Award-winning Pamela Butchart with A Monster Ate My Packed Lunch!; and a series of outdoor exploration events at Abbotsford, taking inspiration from Sir Walter Scott himself and his beautiful home.
Adults get to go free to any Family Book Festival event so long as they are accompanied by at least one child!
The book festival welcomes the continued support of Title Sponsor Baillie Gifford and Key Sponsor McInroy & Wood, as well as Cullen Kilshaw, Saltire Roofing & Building Ltd, Davidson Chalmers Stewart, DM Hall, and the on-going funding of Scottish Borders Council, Creative Scotland, Culture & Business Fund Scotland and EventScotland (Scotland’s Event Recovery Fund).
Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events for VisitScotland, said:
“We are delighted to support the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival through Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund, established by EventScotland in conjunction with funding from the Scottish Government.
This 6-day festival, brimming with over 60 events, features high-profile and wide-ranging literary talent from all walks of life. The venue, Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, is the perfect stage for this year’s festival, making it even more special and celebratory for the 250th anniversary of Scotland’s most renowned novelist.”
Tickets for this year’s Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival are available via Citizen Ticket, at www.bordersbookfestival.org or on 0131 290 2112.
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