Literary giants Hilary Mantel and Alexander McCall Smith, crime-writing royalty Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Christopher Brookmyre and Denise Mina and political leaders Ed BallsGordon Brown and Ed Miliband are just a few of the highlights of the 2021 Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival. The full line-up of more than 60 events has been announced this week.

This year the festival will be held from 2nd-7th November at Abbotsford (just outside Melrose) home of Sir Walter Scott, whose 250th anniversary is being celebrated throughout the year. 

The Book Festival returns for the first time since 2019, after the Covid-19 pandemic effectively cancelled the 2020 annual event in June. The magnificent venue for 2021 allows the extraordinary array of events to go ahead whatever the Scottish autumn weather may bring, whilst ensuring that all Government Covid-19 guidelines are strictly adhered to without detracting from the sense of excitement at the return of the festival after such a turbulent 18 months.  The house and visitor centre will remain open for visitors attending the Book Festival to be able to enjoy too. 

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. 

As ever, we are very grateful to our sponsors and funders for their continued support and are delighted to welcome on board this year as our media partner the Financial Times. 

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.” 

The Meetings Show