The Edinburgh Book Festival is relocating in the hope of personal events



The Edinburgh International Book Festival is moving to a new venue this year as it adapts to a pandemic.

The festival will take place inside and outside the Edinburgh College of Art on Lauriston Place from August 14th to 30th.

The organizers are planning a series of live online author talks, workshops and readings, as well as, if circumstances permit, some events for a personal, socially distant audience.

The festival is pulling away from the usual Charlotte Square venue as organizers don’t know how many tickets they’ll be selling for in-person events, and therefore can’t justify the cost of tents and other infrastructure they typically set up.

Book a marquee in Charlotte Square The Edinburgh International Book Festival usually takes place in Charlotte Square (Robert Perry / PA).

Full program and event details will be announced at the end of June.

Festival Director Nick Barley said, “While we are now witnessing a full lockdown in Scotland that is challenging for so many people on so many levels, we very much hope that the combination of this, along with the ongoing vaccination program, will bring the virus under control by August .

“Building on the success of our online book festival, we can now announce that we will be entering into a new strategic partnership with the University of Edinburgh that will allow us to inhabit this innovative space with facilities for digital and digital events in 2021, when circumstances permit, physical audience.

“Covid-19 has made a huge tectonic change in the way that live events, including us, can reach their audiences.”

Mr Barley said it was “very likely” that most of the events would be online and the festival would need broadcast studios rather than large venues for an audience.

He said: “In the grassy courtyard of Edinburgh College of Art, if the rules allow, we will recreate the book festival elements that our audiences love – bookshops, cafes and open spaces where we can come together safely and offer the oasis of calm ‘for which the book festival is known.

Bernardine Evaristo and Nicola SturgeonBernardine Evaristo was interviewed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during last year’s festival, which was entirely online (Robin Mair / EIBF).

“The college has excellent studio and theater facilities for online broadcasts and potential events with a socially distant audience.”

The University of Edinburgh will operate catering and bar facilities at the college, if permitted by Covid-19 guidelines, while the book festival is on.

Last year’s book festival was fully online and featured 146 events including talks with Douglas Stuart, Samantha Power, Matt Haig, Hilary Mantel, Marian Keyes and Bernardine Evaristo interviewed by First Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

Professor Peter Mathieson, Director and Vice Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh said: “We were delighted to be asked by the Edinburgh International Book Festival to support future events through this mutually beneficial arrangement.

“Building on our existing partnership, this new, deeper relationship will help the people of Edinburgh and around the world continue to come together to explore the power of ideas through their love of literature.”