The Edinburgh International Book Festival began on Saturday and runs until the 29th of August from its encampment of tents in Charlotte Square Gardens. Last year I wrote, a little belatedly, about some of the events I had attended, but even if you don’t have a ticket to a talk, a reading or a workshop, the festival is still worth a visit.
In the Gardens there are lots of places to sit and recover from a hectic Fringe schedule, with refreshments available from two cafes, a bar and an ice cream stall. Whilst you soak up the atmosphere and, if your lucky, some sunshine, the eagle-eyed might even spot a literary great or two. Most authors take part in book signings after their appearances and these are not restricted to those that have paid to see them talk. Anyone can stand in line and have their book signed and, if you’ve not been at the show, with some canny timing you can grab yourself one of the front spots in the queue.
The festival is host to two books shops, one for adults and one for children, which are free to browse and feature works by all of the writers in attendance plus many others. It is common for new books, or new issues of older works, to be launched during the festival so look out for those rare first editions of the future.
As well as books there is art to be enjoyed. The festival’s advertising posters and decorations within the Gardens are always very striking and this year the entrance tent is home to a work by Edinburgh’s mysterious paper sculptor. In 2011 sculptures, made from old books and with literary themes began appearing around the city. Most of these were small in size but the one currently to be found at the festival is much bigger and features a tree full of butterflies. The identity of the sculptor remains a mystery and those interested in seeing more of their work can follow a walking tour prepared by the Scottish Poetry Library; more book related fun for free!
For more things to do for free during the Edinburgh Festival see here