Prue Leith enjoys a dram after a hard day at work
Prue Leith enjoys a dram after a hard day at work

Big names for this year’s Borders Book Festival

Top TV chefs The Hairy Bikers will ride into Melrose this summer.

Si King and Dave Myers  will open this year’s Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival in the Scottish Borders, taking place from Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 June.

Other highlights include explorer Sir Chris Bonington, King of Crime Ian Rankin, and bestselling author of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins.

Now considered one of the premier festivals in Britain, the 2018 Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival offers its largest programme to date with more than 110 events crammed into Harmony Garden over four hectic days.

Festival director Alistair Moffat said: ‘The sheer quality of the sessions, from the smallest to the largest marquees, is unparalleled as national and international names converge on Melrose this summer.

‘The contrasts are dazzling with Robert Peston’s McInroy & Wood Lecture on the state of the nation followed by Rory Bremner and Jan Ravens making fun of the same thing in The Art of Impressionism or Prue Leith on life, food and Bake Off followed by Archie Macpherson recalling the glory years of Scottish football.

Prue Leith is coming to the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival

‘All tastes are catered for, all demographics will find something to fascinate them, from the children’s sessions in the Nairn’s Family Book Festival to those who want to hear Richard Holloway musing on mortality in his Waiting for the Last Bus. This really is the best-ever Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival.’

The Book Festival welcomes back to the Borders one of Scotland’s favourite authors, Alexander McCall Smith to celebrate 20 years of his bestselling No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.

Also on stage: award winning military historian Antony Beevor; Scotland’s leading archaeologist and conservationist Neil Oliver; from politics William Hague and Gordon Brown; journalists Stacey Dooley and Misha Glenny; James Naughtie and Simon Jenkins on Brexit; Alan Taylor and Ian Rankin on Muriel Spark; Earl Charles Spencer on Charles II; bestselling novelist Kate Mosse and sporting heroes includingex-international rugby star Doddie Weir and record-breaking cyclist and adventurer Mark Beaumont.

Earl Charles Spencer, the brother of Princess Diana, has written about Charles II

To end on a lighter note, comedian and ventriloquist Nina Conti will bring the four days of festivities to a side-splitting close.

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust have chosen the book festival to programme their first Resolute Optimism event with controversial, evolutionary Richard Dawkins defending the power and glory of science based on his new book Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.

The winner of this year’s prestigious £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction will be awarded by previous winner Sebastian Barry on Saturday 16 June, from a shortlist including books by Rachel Malik, Benjamin Myers, Paul Lynch and Jane Harris.

Debi Gliori, Ross Collins, Vivian French and David Solomons are just some of the names from the world of children’s books, who will entertain and energise the younger crowd in the popular Family Book Festival, sponsored for the first time by Nairn’s Oatcakes.

Taking place throughout the weekend of Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 June, the Nairn’s Family Book Festival also includes kids craft activities, storytellingand creative workshops.

Adults get to go free to any Nairn’s Family Book Festival event so long as they are accompanied by at least one child!

The creator of Inspector Rebus, Ian Rankin

The Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival also includes the Scottish Borders Housing Association (SBHA) Schools Gala Day on Thursday 14 June, which sees more than 1,500 children and teachers attending from primary schools across the Borders, whilst a new well-being strand will run throughout the Friday afternoon to include Yoga, Drop-in massage therapy and Mindfulness.

In addition, throughout the four days there will be live music, The Orchard tented food village and plenty of free, fun activities making the book festival a great day out for all the family to enjoy.

The festival welcomes the continued support of title sponsor Baillie Gifford, Key Media Partner The Times Scotland, key supporters The National Trust of Scotland, as well as Douglas Home & Co and Scottish Borders Housing Association, and new key sponsors McInroy & Wood, as well as Nairn’s Oatcakes and Borders Buses, and the on-going funding of Scottish Borders Council, Creative Scotland and many other loyal supporters.

James Budden, director of marketing and distribution at Baillie Gifford said: ‘Baillie Gifford is an avid supporter of literary festivals across the UK. We have been lucky enough to work with the team at Borders over the last couple of years.

‘The festival has become established as one of the country’s top literature events with its name and brand familiar to authors, publishers and audiences across the UK.

‘As well as bringing a raft of distinguished and popular writers, raconteurs and personalities to the picturesque town of Melrose, the festival also nurtures new talent by providing a platform for debut writers and local authors. We hope that over 30,000 visitors will come and enjoy the fun again this year. We are delighted to be among them.’

Tim Wood, Chief Executive of McInroy & Wood added: ‘The directors of McInroy & Wood are delighted to become the Key Sponsor to the Borders Book Festival. Our firm’s long history in supporting the arts across the UK sits happily alongside our desire to support and participate in the local communities in which we work and live. We are therefore excited to be partnering once again with Alistair and his team.

‘The Borders Book Festival is in a class of its own and mirrors our own aspiration to provide a personal discretionary investment management service of the highest quality.’

The Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival is this year giving individuals the opportunity to become supporters and patrons of the festival. Details about the new individual giving scheme can be found at

Tickets for this year’s Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival are available from Hub Tickets,  or at 0131 473 2000.