Browse The Borders Book Festival 2021

Shutterstock © borders book festival

This year’s Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival will see a host of literary giants descend on the picturesque Scottish Borders — including Hilary Mantel, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Denise Mina.

The Festival returns for the first time in two years, after organisers abandoned the 2020 event during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full line-up features more than 60 events over six days, from November 2-7.

Once again, the magnificent Abbotsford House —birthplace of Sir Walter Scott — will play host, enabling the extraordinary array of events to go ahead whatever the Scottish autumn weather may bring.

And visitors need not worry; all Government Covid-19 guidelines will be strictly adhered to, without detracting from the sense of excitement!

The house and visitor centre will remain open for those attending to enjoy, too.

A little different this year

Alistair Moffat, Festival Director, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming the book-loving public back to the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival this year. Even more so in light of everything that the last 18 has thrown at us.

“The festival will feel a little different this year. We are swapping the warm, sunny days of June for the autumnal beauty of November; and the iconic Harmony Garden for the magnificent home of Sir Walter Scott, Abbotsford.

“It seems totally fitting in this year of the 250th celebrations of Scott to be welcoming a host of great authors to his home, but, on a practical note, holding the Book Festival at Abbotsford also allows us to ensure that the Festival is COVID-safe and that our audiences, whom we have missed so much, can come and enjoy everything we have to offer with peace of mind.

“We very much look forward to returning to Harmony Garden in June 2022, but, for now, we are thrilled to have so many wonderful authors joining us at Abbotsford this November for six days of unbridled literary pleasure.”

What else can you expect?

Taking to the stage from the world of sport will be:

  • rugby icon Gavin Hastings, discussing the Lions and leadership
  • Finlay Calder and Jim Telfer, talking all about the epic Lions tour of 1997
  • the voice of cricket, Henry Blofeld, with a personal tribute to the game that has shaped his life
  • footballing great Pat Nevin, talking about his autobiography The Accidental Footballer

And from the world of politics:

  • top political journalist Robert Peston will discuss his explosive new thriller “The Whistleblower”
  • former Labour leaders Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband will consider their respective manifestos to fix the most pressing problems the world currently faces
  • Strictly Come Dancing sensation Ed Balls will share his autobiography, “Appetite: A Memoir of Recipes in Family and Food”.

And that’s not all!

Further delights await, with travel and television phenomenon Michael Palin on the story of the ship Erebus; and history doyens Jonathan Dimbleby on how Hitler lost the war, and Neil Oliver talking about his The Story of the World in 100 Moments.

Attendees will also be able to celebrate Hilary Mantel’s Walter Scott Prize For Historical Fiction win for “The Mirror And The Light”.

Plus much, much more!

Tickets for this year’s Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival are available here, or on 0131 290 2112.

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Iain McDonald

Iain is Digital Content Editor at the "Friend", making him responsible for managing flow of interesting and entertaining content on the magazine's website and social media channels.