10 book festivals and literary fairs to enjoy this autumn and winter in Scotland

As the nights draw in, there’s nothing better than relaxing with a good book and you can find your next favourite read at one of these book festivals.

With autumn comes the start of book festival season in Scotland. Edinburgh’s main one, the Edinburgh Book Festival may be over but there’s plenty of other literary celebrations taking place across the country this autumn and winter. From a star-studded weekend in the Highlands to old favourites and new events, here are some book fairs and festivals to look forward to.

Wigtown Book Festival, Dumfries and Galloway

This 10 day celebration of books has become one of the biggest and best book festivals in Scotland. Founded in 1999, this year’s programme has over 200 events and activities for all the family.

The full Wigtown Book Festival line up has been revealed, created by guest programmer Lee Randall (pictured), who offers twenty five top tips for this year’s silver anniversary 10-day event.The full Wigtown Book Festival line up has been revealed, created by guest programmer Lee Randall (pictured), who offers twenty five top tips for this year’s silver anniversary 10-day event.
The full Wigtown Book Festival line up has been revealed, created by guest programmer Lee Randall (pictured), who offers twenty five top tips for this year’s silver anniversary 10-day event.

Dates: 22 September to 1 October

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What to expect: Headline speakers at this year’s Wigtown Book Festival include Judy Murray, Hamza Yassin and Denise Mina. There’s activities for kids and young adults and, on opening nights, there will be fireworks and a hog roast dinner.

Tickets: Events are individually priced, and more information can be found on the book festival website.

Once Upon a Time in the West End, Byres Road, Glasgow

This book fair returns to the west end of Glasgow this month.

Dates: 21-24 September

What to expect: There are a range of talks and events taking place in either Hillhead library, Oxfam Bookshop, Oran Mor and Waterstones, all on Byres Road. Big names include Sally Magnusson, Coinneach MacLeod (The Hebridean Baker) and Stuart Braithwaite. There’s events for kids too, including bookbug songs and rhymes and singing and storytelling with Gerry Durkin.

Tickets: Events are free, but you’ll need to register for tickets. More information can be found at their website.

Portobello Book Festival, Edinburgh

The Portobello Book Festival is a volunteer run festival that takes place over the first weekend in October.

Dates: 5-8 October

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What to expect: Events this year include Plot to Plate with artists Felicity Bristow, Susie Wilson and Craigentinny Telferton Allotments; Writing from Life with Jane Chisholm, Frances Hider and Catriona Windle; and Whisky - discussion over a dram.

Tickets: All events are free, but ticketed. Find out more and register for tickets via the Portobello Book Festival website.

The Fife Arms Literary Festival, Braemar

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Following the success of the inaugural Braemar Literary Festival in October 2022, The Fife Arms Literary Festival will return for a second year, inviting both local residents and guests from further afield to come together in celebration of the world of words in all its forms.

Dates: Friday 29 September to Sunday 1 October

What to expect: This weekend of literary chat at Braemar’s luxury hotel will feature talks from big names including Dame Judi Dench, Don Paterson, Anthony Horowitz and Rick Stein.

Tickets: Tickets are individually priced, with some sold out already. Find out more and book at the literary festival website.

Cove and Kilcreggan Book Festival, Helensburgh

Dates: This year’s Cove and Kilcreggan Book Festival will be held from the 25-26 November.

What to expect: Highlights of this year’s festival, the tenth one, include: former first minister Nicola Sturgeon in covernsation with Pauline McLean, BBC art’s correspondent, on the vital nature of books, libraries and reading; talks from author and broadcaster Sally Magnusson, historian Sir Tom Devine, author Darren McGarvey, columnist Kerry Hudson and writer, poet and playwright Hannah McGarvey.

Tickets: Weekend passes are £45, an £11 saving on individual events. More information can be found on the festival’s website.

Bloody Scotland, Stirling

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Bloody Scotland is Scotland's International Crime Writing Festival, which takes place this month.

Dates: 15-17 September

What to expect: Established in 2012, Bloody Scotland celebrates crime writing with enteratining and informative events, including talks from well established writers as well as a Pitch Perfect event, which showcases new talent.

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Tickets: There’s in-person and virtual event tickets available, all individually priced. To find out more and book, visit the Bloody Scotland website.

Tidelines Book Festival, Irvine

Tidelines Book Festival is a community-run, charitable trust that brings a popular and well established literary festival to Ayrshire.

Dates: Tidelines will take place from 21 to 24 September at the Harbour Arts Centre, Irvine, North Ayrshire.

What to expect: Events this year include: Andrew O’Hagan, Mayflies: To Irvine, with love; Elaine C Smith: My Life in Books; and Liam McIlvanney and Pat Nevin in conversation.

Tickets: Prices range from £5-£12 and more information can be found on the Tidelines Book Festival website.

West over Sea, The Tobermory Book Festival, Isle of Mull

The third iteration of this island book festival will take place next month.

Dates: 27 - 28 October

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What to expect: Designed to celebrate Mull as an island book capital, this year’s festival includes events such as Dougie Strang: The Bone Cave; Dr Natalie Sanders: The Last Sunset in the West: Britain’s Vanishing West Coast Orcas; and Dr Kerri Andrews: Wanderers: A History of Women Walking

Tickets: Tickets are available from An Tobar, The Tobermory and Mull Arts Centre or online at the Tobermory Book Festival’s website.

WayWord, Aberdeen

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This literary and arts festival is now in its fourth year, and is brought to you by the Universirty of Aberdeen.

Dates: 19-24 September

What to expect: Discussion panels, talks, readings and performances from a lineup of poets, novelists and other creatives. Events this year feature: Chitra Ramaswamy, May Sumbwanyambe, Sean Wai Keung and Kathleen Jamie

Tickets: All events are free but ticketed. Find out more via the WayWord website.

Orkney Storytelling Festival, Orkney

The Orkney Storytelling Festival is a long weekend of oral storytelling. It was created in 2010 and is organised by the Orcadian Story Trust.

Dates: 26 – 29 October

What to expect: As well as local storytellers, invited guest from all over the world have come to this festival. This year’s guest storytellers are Peter Chand and Shonaleigh.

Tickets: More information can be found on the Orkney Storytelling website.