Borders Book Festival: annual literary celebration is bigger and better than ever

Borders Book Festival: Annual literary celebration is bigger and better than ever

credit: Photography Lloyd Smith

With big names like Prue Leith, Mary Contini, Ian Rankin and Mark Millar set to attend, Melrose prepares for a celebration of the written word like no other

Since its first incarnation in 2004, Borders Book Festival has evolved from a small summer event with just a few hundred visitors to welcoming tens of thousands of book lovers to Melrose's Harmony Garden over four days. And its timing is perfect too - with most of Scotland's major book festivals clustered around spring (Aye Write, StAnza), late summer (Edinburgh) and autumn (Bloody Scotland and Wigtown), the Borders' offering makes the most of that early summer warmth and those long bright days.

This year's instalment features an eclectic range of authors covering everything from food & drink to crime, military history to children's literature. The Hairy Bikers will open the festival on Thu 14 Jun; also from the world of food, GBBO judge Prue Leith will be appearing (Thu), as will List favourite Mary Contini.

Elsewhere, comedy is well represented in events from Nina Conti, Jan Ravens and Rory Bremner, while book festival favourites Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and Richard Holloway will also pop up.

There's a strong journalism strand too, with appearances from the BBC's James Naughtie, the Guardian's Simon Jenkins and broadcaster Stacey Dooley, who has been acclaimed for her BBC Three documentaries. And from the political sphere, former Tory Leader William Hague and ex-PM Gordon Brown will also head to Melrose to talk to audiences.

2018 celebrates the centenary of the birth of one of Scotland's greatest writers, Muriel Spark. To mark the occasion, journalist Alan Taylor and crime writer extraordinaire Ian Rankin will get together to discuss Spark's legacy. And don't miss the festival's comics strand too, featuring appearances from Mark Millar, Frank Quitely and a screening of Miller's comic book-turned-action film Kick-Ass.

Other films at the festival include O Brother Where Art Thou?, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and a fourth film chosen by audiences (see the Borders Book Festival Facebook page for details), and all screenings take place at the beautiful Vintage Mobile Cinema. For more details and the full programme, head to

Borders Book Festival, Harmony Garden, Melrose, Thu 14–Sun 18 Jun.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information displayed here is accurate, always check with the venue before attending (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic).

Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival

The Borders Book Festival attracts world-class literary, sport and comedy figures. The 2021 festival will be held over six days in the grounds of Abbotsford House as part of the 250th anniversary celebrations of the life and work of Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott.

Abbotsford, Melrose

Tue 2 Nov

Times & prices vary / 0131 473 2000

Wed 3 Nov

Times & prices vary / 0131 473 2000

Thu 4 Nov

Times & prices vary / 0131 473 2000

…and 3 more dates until 7 Nov

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