Stars Turn Out For The Return Of Live Book Festival Events At Harmony Garden

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The Borders Book Festival programme is announced today (26th April) and tickets go on sale, as organisers prepare to welcome back on stage big names in books; stars of stage and screen, and leading figures from the world of politics and current affairs.

Returning to its usual home at Harmony Garden, Melrose, in the Scottish Borders, for the first time since 2019, the four-day book extravaganza runs from Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th June.

The diverse programme of over 100 events includes the fabulous Joanna Lumley on her book about the Queen; the hilarious and best-loved comedian Julian Clary; comedian, presenter, turned psychotherapist Jack Dee; current affairs heavy weights Andrew Marr, Clive Myrie, Gavin Esler and Allan Little; former cabinet minister Ed Balls with his very personal memoir; crime-writing royalty Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre and Mark Billingham; journalists and social commentators Darren McGarvey, Jonathan Freedland and Fintan O’Toole; bestselling novelists Lisa Jewell and Jenny Colgan; much-loved Yorkshire writer and humorous raconteur Gervase Phinn; TV wine expert Helen McGinn and  BBC’s The Great British Sewing Bee judge, Esme Young.

Book Festival favourite Rory Bremner returns with two exclusive events: The Scottish Impressionists, alongside Ronni Ancona, and Lewis MacLeod, as well as I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Buccleuch, a special Borders Book Festival edition of the legendary BBC radio comedy panel game, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, hosted by the inimitable Jack Dee, with panellists Miles Jupp, Rory Bremner, Pippa Evans and Tony Hawks and music by Colin Sell.

Taking time away from covering the war in Ukraine, Clive Myrie hosts a special Melrose edition of Mastermind, with well-known guests seated in the original black chair, lent by Sally Magnusson.

Celebrating the power of storytelling as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, the book festival has an exciting strand of events to spotlight the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. These events are woven throughout the four-days, involving some of Scotland’s finest writers, thinkers and performers, including:   Alexander McCall Smith, Flora Johnston, Jean Findlay, Sue Lawrence, Andrew Douglas-Home, Claire Askew and Jenni Fagan.

Festival Director, Alistair Moffat, said:

“We’re raring to get the stage set and the show on the road to welcome our audience back to Harmony Garden after three long years. 
We’re back with a bang! This year’s programme will delight the crowds with what everyone has come to expect of the Borders Book Festival: lively debate, a broadening of minds, insightfulness — and, of course, a good dose of fun and laughter along the way. 
And boy, do we need it!
 We’re grateful to our Principal Sponsor Baillie Gifford, Key Sponsor McInroy & Wood, Family Book Festival sponsor Saltire Roofing and Building, and supporters Creative Scotland, VisitScotland and Scottish Borders Council, who’ve stood by us through this difficult period.    
It seems more fitting than ever to be back for four days of fun and celebration of the written word in what is Scotland’s Year of Stories.  And I’m sure this year’s festival will mean we’ll have even more stories of our own to tell for years to come!” 

The McInroy & Wood Lecture is this year delivered by BBC correspondent Allan Little, focusing on the post-Cold War era, as Europe enters a new, more dangerous phase, following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Financial Times, as the book festival’s national media partner, hosts a series of events covering the big issues of the day: Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who served in cabinets under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, debates the future of naval base Faslane and the UK’s nuclear deterrent with CND campaigner Isobel Lindsay and military historian Trevor Royle; FT foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman explains why authoritarian leaders are again a fixture of global politics and just how big a role energy plays in geopolitics; and FT columnist Merryn Somerset Webb offers a survival guide for the cost of living crisis, in conversation with Claer Barrett, the newspaper’s Consumer Editor. 

The Family Book Festival, sponsored by Saltire Roofing and Building, takes place throughout the day on the Saturday and Sunday (18th & 19th June).  The two-day programme is packed with thrilling author events, including: festival favourites Vivian French and Alan Windram; Mairi Kidd sharing Scottish Fairy Tales, Myths & Legends; the chance to learn about Scottish dinosaurs with Steve Brusatte, an actual palaeontologist; Dr Punam Krishan on How to be a Doctor; what we can do to help our planet with Christopher Lloyd and his latest book It’s Up To Us, the story of global climate change; Pamela Butchart tells her latest tale in the hilarious Wigglesbottom Primary series and Tolá Okogwu with her superpower adventure Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, as well as kids craft activities, storytelling and interactive creative workshops — perfect for curious young minds

The winner of this year’s prestigious £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction is to be announced at a special event at the book festival, chosen from a short list of four books: Colm Tóibín’s The Magician, Andrew Greig’s Rose Nicolson, Amanda Smyth’s Fortune and James Robertson’s News of the Dead.  

In addition, throughout the four days, there will be live music, the Orchard tented food village and plenty of free, fun activities, making the book festival a great day out for all the family to enjoy.

Culture Minister, Neil Gray, said:

“Our Year of Stories celebrations have highlighted the rich diversity of voices we have in Scotland and the infinite ways there are of telling stories across genres and art forms.  
“The Borders Book Festival explores many of these, from historical and crime fiction to politics and comedy, in this inspirational and entertaining programme.”

Alan Bett, Head of Literature and Publishing at Creative Scotland, said:

“Book lovers will be delighted to see the Borders Book Festival return to its home at Harmony Garden, Melrose. This offers the opportunity for those local to the area to engage with literature in a live setting, while also drawing people from across the country. This is a broad and diverse programme of writers that offers something for everyone, in many cases touching upon the big issues facing the world today.”

Tickets now available at www.bordersbookfestival.org  or by calling 0131 290 2112.

Free one time use Book Festival and author images available to download here.

The book festival welcomes the continued support of Principal 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, EventScotland as part of the Year of Stories 2022 and many other loyal supporters including CGI, The Turtleton Charitable Trust and The Dr David Summers Charitable Trust.

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