Future-Facing: Edinburgh’s Book Festival 2024

Edinburgh International Book Festival Director Jenny Niven launches 2024 programme. Image Ian Georgeson
Edinburgh International Book Festival Director Jenny Niven launches its 2024 programme, 4th June. Image Ian Georgeson

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2024

From: 10 Aug 2024

To: 25 Aug 2024

Edinburgh Futures Institute
1 Lauriston Place
Edinburgh & the Lothians

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Since its inauguration in 1983, the Edinburgh International Book Festival has grown into a major Festival draw in Scotland’s capital every August, attracting around 250,000 visits. Claimed to be the largest public celebration of the written word in the world, until 2020 it was based at a fondly-remembered tented Festival village in Charlotte Square Gardens, then moved to the Edinburgh College of Art buildings at Lauriston, in the city’s Old Town.

This year the Festival is still in the Old Town, but in newly-refurbished indoor and outdoor spaces at the opposite end of Lauriston Place, based around the former Royal Infirmary buildings, which first opened in 1729. Typifying the Edinburgh practice of re-purposing old buildings to face the future with renewed purpose, the Festival shares space with what is now the base for a major University project, Edinburgh Futures Institute, which seeks to bring together worldwide thinking on the best way forward for the planet. The facility, alongside the adjacent McEwan Hall, makes for an attractive and ideal space for the Festival and its proximity to other key Festival venues should prove a major draw.

The newly-announced programme comprises over 500 events, featuring authors from over 40 countries, with a theme of Future Tense – fittingly for the new venue – exploring how future-oriented and long-term thinking can bring imagination and perspective to urgent and complex issues, encompassing data, AI, politics, economics, and the imaginative realm. Other programme strands include How to Live a Meaningful Life, Brilliant Fiction, the food-related Table Talk, the geopolitical Voterama, an imaginative re-examination of James Hogg’s extraordinary Confessions of a Justified Sinner – 200 years old – poetry and performance, and plenty of fun and entertainment including late-night events in the famous Spiegeltent; the popular bookshop will also return under a new roof.

This is the first year under the Direction of Jenny Niven, and sees the welcome return of flat, grassy outdoor spaces hosting children’s events, food vendors, a buzzing bar, all with plenty of seating for chat – and reading! For audiences worldwide, digital events and workshops return, with many of the events saved for streaming.

Image Edinburgh International Book Festival
Artist Jeremy Deller talking with The Guardian’s chief culture writer Charlotte Higgins about his book ‘Art Is Magic’ on 22nd Aug last year. Image Edinburgh International Book Festival

The visual arts and design continue to be an enduring theme, this year including workshops and events with veteran artist Richard Demarco, artists Alice Melvin, Ruth Millington, designer Thomas Heatherwick, illustrators Tom Morgan-Jones, Pippa Pixley, Tom Schamp, Yuval Zommer and Rob Biddulph, Lucian Freud’s daughter Rose Boyt, art-inspired poetry with Shane Strachan and a look at art history with Hettie Judah.

Tickets go on sale 20th June, and the Festival programme is now available online or by post.

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