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Artyness columnist Barbara Henderson highlights book events for Highland book fans to enjoy


By Barbara Henderson

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‘What’s the dream?’ My publishers asked me on our very first meeting in February 2016.

I didn’t hesitate.

'Edinburgh International Book Festival is the dream.’

Barbara Henderson with Alice Blackwell part of the event at Edinburgh Book Festival.
Barbara Henderson with Alice Blackwell part of the event at Edinburgh Book Festival.

I genuinely couldn’t think of anything better – as an annual visitor to the festival as a reader for the past two decades, the customary Charlotte Square was practically hallowed ground.

Fast forward to 2021.

I am trembling a little as I enter the new site – the festival has relocated to Edinburgh’s College of Art and its beautiful courtyard.

I receive my lanyard and a gorgeous piece of Cranachan cake before being ushered into the Castle View Studio.

Most of the festival’s children’s events are taking place without an audience, but it doesn’t bother me one bit – I happily discuss my Viking adventure The Chessmen Thief with the National Museums of Scotland curator who looks after the ACTUAL LEWIS CHESSMEN.

Barbara henderson at her event at Edinburgh Book Festival.
Barbara henderson at her event at Edinburgh Book Festival.

Our 45 minutes fly by.

You can watch the event on catch-up at www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/alice-blackwell-barbara-henderson-artifacts-and-fiction if you feel that way inclined.

Far from an anti-climax, I float home.

There is so much more to look forward to this autumn, and closer to home too. With in-person events making a comeback and hybrid-type festivals firmly back in the game, there is something for every booklover to look forward to in the coming weeks. Take Nairn Book and Arts Festival for example.

I am visiting five schools during the programme, but there is so much to look forward to!

With a theme of Close To Nature’s Heart, organisers have cleverly combined outdoor events with author talks, a high-street takeover, exhibitions and – my personal favourite as a former puppeteer – Vision Mechanics’ 10-metre-high puppet Storm.

I cannot wait: www.nairnfestival.co.uk

Next up is the brand new St Duthac’s Book and Arts Festival in Tain and the Easter Ross Peninsula.

Don’t you LOVE when these things spring up? With a four-day extravaganza of author talks, arts and heritage trails and the famous Nigg Book Fair, pop-up performances and events, I’d suggest that you mark September 23-27 in your diaries, www.stduthacbookfest.com

And why stop there?

Inverness’s own NessBookFest is back from September 30 till October 2! It’s great to see the free and varied programme announced this week, with big names such as Robin Ince and local and Gaelic authors well represented too.

By the time you read this, tickets will be available to book via Eventbrite – simply go to nessbookfest.com for more details and don’t miss out

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