End of the Edinburgh Book Fest
After eighteen literary days, the Edinburgh International Book Fest has drawn to a close. I can barely even describe how immense the program was - think 750 authors, 220,000 visitors, thousands of books sold (and signed), and hundreds of events… huge.
The final weekend went off with a bang. A public holiday Monday, the events on across the three days from Saturday were fantastic. While big name writers like Anthony Bourdain, Will Self and Joyce Carol Oates entertained crowds in the main tent, unpublished writers were also included in the Writers of the Future stream. On the final night were some conflicting and equally appealing events - unable to decide, I did both.
During the Festival, one of Scotland’s most-loved poets, Edwin Morgan, died. The festival worked hard to put together a tribute to him on the final evening of the festival. The tribute included sixteen of Scotland’s respected poets reading a Morgan poem each, and was a lively, poignant and fascinating event.
More lighthearted was the closing night of Unbound, with readings and song from local authors and songwriters. I have really enjoyed Ryan van Winkle, Alan Bissett and Doug Johstone at the Book Fest, and it was great to hear them again on the final night. Scottish indie rocker King Creosote played the final set to an audience who was intent on drinking the night away.
The end of the Festival for the public is not quite the last day though… on Tuesday, Charlotte Square was overrun with thousands of kids on the schools gala day. The festival hosts a whole day of kids-only programming, packing out not just the children’s area but all the tents at the festival, to connect young readers with writers.
The pace of the festival never faltered, with the incredible staff staying energetic and on top of things to the end. Now that the festival is over, the literary city at Charlotte Square will be packed down - and the organisers can enjoy a well-deserved rest.
I have been blown away by the quality (and quantity!) of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. After two-plus weeks of inspiring sessions, panels, parties and conversations, I am buzzing with ideas and thoughts about what makes a great writers' festival. Although very sad to be leaving beautiful Edinburgh, I’ll be keeping an eye on literary Edinburgh, both through reading the Scottish lit blogs I discovered and through the Edinburgh City of Literature website.