Reader’s guide to the Edinburgh Book Festival

Ginger cat reads a book

Smart ginger

Each August thousands of people come to Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh for the world famous Fringe Festival. But what many don’t know is that Edinburgh also hosts the annual Book Festival, featuring inspiring authors, poets and public figures from across the globe.

From the 15th – 31st of August, lovers of the written word flock to the city’s Charlotte Square Gardens to attend talks, workshops and debates from their favourite writers. If you’re looking for a place to stay nearby, the Travelodge Central Queen Street is a 10-minute walk.

This year’s festival line-up is pretty incredible, boasting worldwide bestsellers and even the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

So here’s a quick rundown of some the events you won’t want to miss.

  1. For fans of thrills and chills

Fans of the crime, thriller and horror genres will be pleasantly surprised to find lots of household names such as S.J. Watson (Before I Go To Sleep), Christopher Brookmyre (One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night) and Denise Mina (Garnethill) on the programme.

Dark night and ramshackle house

Spooky inspiration. Photo © Dario Lo Presti

Other notable guests include Scottish literary star Stuart MacBride and Cirque Du Freak author Darren Shan.

  1. For young adults

For young adults, and fans of young adult literature, Patrick Ness (The Knife of Never Letting Go) and Jenny Valentine (Finding Violet Park) are an absolute must-see at this year’s Book Festival.

Edinburgh summer with park

Edinburgh in summer. Photo © IanAMac

Patrick Ness is a recurring feature on the line-up and each year he performs a very memorable talk about the importance of the written word, especially for younger and underprivileged readers.

  1. Stars of the surreal

In terms of other big names in fiction, it can be difficult to fit Alasdair Gray (Lanark) and David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) in to just one category. However, with both featuring in this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival line-up they just had to be mentioned.

Definitely for fans of fiction with a sci-fi leaning, their bestselling works have become iconic pieces in the literary world, and the Book Festival is the perfect place to have a peek in to their brilliant minds.

  1. Big-name poets

The Book Festival isn’t just limited to prose, with some incredibly talented poets gracing the Charlotte Square to share some of their insight and creativity.

At the Edinburgh Book Festival this year two of the big names in poetry – particularly Scottish poetry – that are taking part in the events include Liz Lochhead and Carol Ann Duffy.

Their gritty yet humorous way with words is not to be missed.

  1. Politics and non-fiction

This year’s Edinburgh Book Festival also includes an hour-long event dedicated to feminism, with both male and female authors, activists, comics, poets and playwrights alike taking to the stage for five minutes to share the reasons they call themselves a feminist.

Each year the Edinburgh Book Festival boasts some impressive names on their bill, with some notable acts in 2015 including the former First Minister Alex Salmond who is discussing the place for capitalism in current society.

His successor, current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, will also be taking to the stage with author Val McDermid to discuss McDermid’s latest works.

  1. Comedy and memoirs

Alongside the iconic political figures you can find comedians such as Limmy, who will be hosting a workshop on comedy and character development, as well as Paul Merton and his discussion regarding his previously published memoirs and battles with mental health issues.

  1. See more of what’s on

To see the whole programme and reserve tickets for the events head over to their website at

Entry to the gardens is free, but you do need to buy tickets for most of the events. For kids’ events, you get one free accompanying adult ticket for every child’s ticket.