THE WRITE STUFF We round-up the best of Scotland’s literary fests

With Glasgow’s Aye Write! and Aberdeen’s Word behind us for another year, Scotland’s book lovers are now holding their breath for the real heavyweight of the nation’s literary calendar, the Edinburgh Book Festival (Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, Sat 14–Mon 30 Aug,, to commence. Yet those with a

nose for an author event will know that these aren’t the only summer dates for their diary. Coming up first is the Nairn

Book & Arts Festival (Community Centre and Little Theatre, Nairn, Sat 5–Sun 13 Jun,, which welcomes poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, AL Kennedy, Andrew O’Hagan and Christopher Brookmyre, closely followed by the Borders Book Festival (Harmony Garden, Melrose, Thu 17–Sun 20 Jun, www.bordersbook, a short but concentrated event packed with literary and celebrity

names. Hilary Mantel, Kathy Lette, Robert Harris, Kate Adie, Victoria Wood and Rory Bremner will be appearing, while the announcement of the Walter Scott Prize winner and a series of family events for all ages are also attractions.

Dundee Literary Festival (various venues, Dundee, Wed 23–Sun 27 Jun, www.literarydundee., meanwhile, is now into its fourth year and will once more be based primarily around the Dalhousie Building at the University of Dundee, featuring a cast which includes Yann Martel, Iain Banks, Alan Warner, John Carey, Rosamunde Pilcher and rockstar and The Death of Bunny Munro author, Nick Cave. Finally, for those whose reading appetites haven’t been satisfied come autumn, there’s Off the Page (various venues, Stirling, Sat 11–Sat 18 Sep, www.stirling, whose Scot-focused roll call this year will include Christopher

Brookmyre, Iain Banks, Louise Welsh and Denise Mina. (David Pollock)

NOVEL IDEAS David Pollock chats to Wigtown Book Festival director Adrian Turpin about the event’s unique spirit

‘T he best way to explain the Wigtown Book Festival is to explain Wigtown first of all,’ says festival director Adrian Turpin. ‘It’s Scotland’s National Book Town, which means it has lots of bookshops and book businesses. It’s like a mini Hay-on-Wye . . . Hay-on-Wye with a kilt, you might say. That’s been the case for the last 12 years, but before that it was rather a run-down place. There were two big businesses here, the creamery and the distillery, which both shut down pretty much overnight. Yet winning a national competition to become Scotland’s Book Town in 1997 has had a regenerative effect on the place.’

In this context, the fact that the Wigtown Book Festival is Scotland’s second biggest after Edinburgh is almost beside the point. While visitors are there for the authors, the events, the celebrities and the book-buying, they’re also there for the environment itself. Situated near the food town of Castle Douglas and the artists’ town of Kirkcudbright, Wigtown offers a chance for visitors to immerse themselves in culture. ‘The whole point about coming down here is that you get a sense of place,’ says Turpin. ‘With most other book festivals, you blink and you could be somewhere else, whereas we have a real sense of identity and we play up to that. We hold events in halls, churches and the Bladnoch Distillery, right the way down to tiny events in bookshops.’

Although the programme for 2010 won’t be announced until the end of July, Turpin points to a line-up in ‘09 which featured Roddy Doyle, Julia Donaldson, Iain Banks, Quintin Jardine, Nick Nairn, David Owen, Louise Welsh and Brian Keenan as indicative of the quality of guests. Moreover, there will be a programme of family events, a series of music, theatre and film performances which often have a related literary theme and, for the second year running, Wigtown’s Got Talent, an audience-judged talent contest that pits authors against festival-goers and locals. ‘Last year saw Louis de Bernieres storm out after everyone laughed at his attempt at Greek dancing,’ recalls Turpin.

Wigtown, near Dumfries, Fri 24 Sep–Sun 3 Oct.




End Of The Road Tarbert Music

Festival Festival

10-12 Sep, Larmer 17-19 Sep, Tarbert,

OCTOBER Fest N’ Furious 1-3 Oct, various venues, Dundee,

28-29 Aug, Daresbury, 9-12 Sep, Robin Hill

Country Park, Isle of Wight,

Cheshire, The UK’s biggest dance

festival returns with

clubbing favourites David

Guetta, Deadmau5, Tiësto and Calvin Harris.

Tree Gardens, Dorset, Lock Fyne,

www.endoftheroad www.tarbertmusic


Inspired by Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, this year’s fancy dress theme of ‘Fantasy’ will be combined with music from The Prodigy, Dizzee

Rascal, The xx, Hot Chip, Roxy Music and

The Flaming Lips.

Yo La Tengo, Wilco, Iron & Wine, Three Trapped Tigers, Errors, The

Antlers and Caribou will play this much-hyped festival. With a line-up like this, it is easy to see why the festival grows in popularity every year.

Acts have still to be announced for this year’s West Coast music fest,

but last year’s acts Skerryvore, The Anyways and The

Keelies should give you a fair idea of what to


Beside top concert acts, the festival runs ceilidhs, workshops and talks,

and offers masterclasses

and ‘come and try’ sessions for beginners.

V Festival 21-22 Aug, Hylands Park, Chelmsford &

Weston Park, Birmingham, 2009 festival favourites Kings of Leon make a

rare 2010 festival appearance at V this

year, along with Kasabian,

Carling Festival 27-29 Aug, Richfield Avenue, Reading and Bramham Park, Leeds, www.readingfestival. and www.leeds

Guns N’ Roses, Blink 182, The Libertines, Paramore, Arcade Fire, Weezer and Queens Of

The Stone Age all

Stereophonics, Faithless, headline at this year’s

Cheryl Cole, The Carling festivals. Fingers

Prodigy, Paul Weller and crossed that serial

White Lies.

show-dodger Axl Rose will actually bother to turn up.

34 THE LIST 27 May–10 Jun 2010