There are lots of Scottish Book Festivals planned for 2023. Here I’ve picked a few of the best ones coming up this Spring.
Cromarty Crime & Thrillers Weekend: 21-23 April 2023
Billed as Tartan Noir-by-the-Sea and inviting you to spend a weekend in a peaceful Scottish seaside village celebrating the brutal world of murder, blood and crime, this festival is hard to resist!
Back for its 11th year, it showcases crime writers Mark Billingham(The Murder Book), Lin Anderson (The Party House), Shona MacLean (The Bookseller of Inverness), Jonathan Whitelaw (The Bingo Hall Detectives) and Neil Lancaster (Blood Runs Cold) all giving a series of talks on their latest books with Q&As and book signings.
Successful local authors Margaret Kirk (In the Blood) and Helen Forbes (Queen of Grime) will be jointly hosting a talk for budding crime writers on how to get published and stay that way.
Sunday afternoon sees the return of the popular Desert Island Crooks event. Jonathan Whitelaw hosts a lively panel discussion – which five books would our favourite authors save from the waves and read on their desert island?
The spotlight is on new and emerging crime authors too. This year gives Michael Elliott (Killing Shadows), Callum McSorley (Squeaky Clean) and Mark Bridgeman (Blood Across the Water) their chance to shine.
Those lucky enough to be staying in Cromarty with the all-inclusive residential package can enjoy the Cromarty premiere of Mark Bridgeman’s Trial by Jury event. Taking a real-life historical case involving the death penalty, the audience turns jury before Mark reveals the final sentence.
Full details at http://www.cromartyartstrust.org.uk/
Soutar Festival of Words, Perth: 28-30 April 2023
The best of Scots authors, poets, musicians, broadcasters, and TV personalities descend on Perth this April as the much-loved Soutar Festival of Words returns.
I knew very little about poet and diarist William Soutar, after whom the festival is named, but that’s the great thing about literary events, you always learn something new! Soutar became a leading figure in the Scottish Literary Renaissance and his influence can be seen in the continuing interest in Scots in all its forms today.
Produced by Culture Perth and Kinross, the festival runs over three days and features an exciting array of events and performances for all ages and interests – from poetry and spoken word to author interviews, performances, talks, and workshops, all celebrating Scots language and contemporary Scots culture.
Celebrated broadcaster and author, Sally Magnusson, will be talking about her latest book, Music in the Dark. Walter Scott Prize-winning author James Robertson not only delivers this year’s Soutar Lecture on Friday 28 April, but also gives a performance of The Gruffalo in Scots on Saturday, 29 April.
Another highlight of the festival will be Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery unveiling this year’s original Soutar Poem. Previous Soutar poets Imogen Stirling and Ross Mackay will join her as they discuss Soutar, hope, and writing for the stage.
Selected events across the three days of the festival will be live-streamed and available to view online, allowing those unable to attend in person to tune in and enjoy as the weekend unfolds in Perth.
The complete programme of more than 35 events, including writing workshops and interactive events, is available at www.culturepk.org.uk/soutar23
Colonsay Book Festival: 29-30 April 2023
The Colonsay Book Festival might be small, but it doesn’t half punch above its weight!
Now in its tenth year, this annual Hebridean literary celebration has carved a unique niche in Scotland’s ever-expanding book festival calendar since its launch in 2012.
The two-day event – dubbed a “literary lock-in” – is conceived and produced entirely by the island’s residents and has previously featured such distinguished writers, poets and authors as Val McDermid, Andrew Greig, Mhairi Hedderwick, AL Kennedy, Jackie Kay, Janice Galloway, Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith, and Andrew O’Hagan, to name but a few.
For the tenth festival, there is a raft of award-winning writers and authors appearing at this “wee gem of a festival on a jewel of an island”. Louise Gray, Kathleen Jamie, Bernard MacLaverty, Sarah Thomas and Louise Welsh are the stellar line up for this year.
As Richard Irvine, Co-Director of the event, says “We’re delighted to have such a strong and diverse range of voices appearing with us to talk about life and literature. Whether at the event itself, in the pub afterwards, or walking on one of its unspoilt beaches, it’s a hugely enjoyable event for visitors, authors and locals alike.
Event details are at www.colonsaybookfestival.com
Ullapool April 2023: 5-6 May 2023
This is something of a bittersweet listing as the 19th Ullapool Book Festival, which was first held in 2005, is its final one. Although the festival will continue to host one-off events and keep great writers coming to the village.
Since its inception, 250 writers, artists and musicians have been guests at this big wee festival on the shore of Loch Broom in the Highlands. This year there is an incredibly varied programme featuring contemporary authors such as Kirstin Innes, Doug Johnstone and Alan Bissett, poets Michael Pedersen, Janette Ayachi, and Don Paterson and academics Gavin Francis, Tom Devine and Linda Bauld.
One of Ullapool’s strengths is that audiences can go to everything as there are no clashes, allowing time for audiences to attend all the events they want to see and, perhaps crucially, make the most of the great home-baking in the tea tent.
“Ullapool is legendary among writers,’ says Honorary President, Chris Dolan, “from Scotland and across the world, as one of the most hospitable, best organised, and enjoyable literary festivals anywhere. We have welcomed sell-out audiences, attracting regular followers and first-time visitors every year. And in the most beautiful of settings. In 2023 we intend to go out with a bang!”
Check out the programme at https://www.ullapoolbookfestival.co.uk
It’s great to see these festivals thriving after the challenges of the pandemic.