Boswell Festival of biography was fully booked

This year’s all-star guests at the Boswell Book Festival have given it a resounding thumbs up.

TV’s Gogglebox star and Festival author Mary Killen perfectly captured the mood of this year’s Boswell Book Festival at Dumfries House in Ayrshire, when she said: ‘I had no idea how wonderful it would be!’

This year’s festival was attended by a record number of over 8000 visitors, making it by far the busiest festival ever.
What is more the audience of Dame Judi Dench’s Opening Night performance was treated to the unexpected arrival of a new festival visitor, HRH The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Rothesay.

As in Mary Killen’s case, the expectations of regular and first time visitors to this year’s unique Festival were clearly surpassed. And it was easy to see why.

Basking in glorious sunshine, stunning Dumfries House surrounded by dancing daffodils and flowering cherry blossom created the backdrop every festival director dreams of.

Festival director Caroline Knox said: ‘This year we managed to persuade a truly marvellous line-up of authors to travel to Ayrshire and to share their biographies, their autobiographies and memoirs – each revealing the complexity, the challenges and the joys of life.

‘There were so many highlights that it’s impossible to pick out even one or two. For me however the real highlight is joining talks and sensing the engagement of the audience with the speaker with stories as far apart as, the Suffragettes, the Syrians and the sitting rooms of Gogglebox.

‘But totally unforgettable was Dame Judi Dench. It was magic for all of us who suddenly found ourselves treated to an intimate conversation with her.’

Many events sold out with a 33% increase on last year.
Head of hospitality and events at Dumfries House, Louis Maccallum, said: ‘This was by far the busiest Boswell Book Festival we’ve ever had and also the busiest event we’ve ever held at Dumfries House. We managed to coordinate at least 800 queuing people between each talk, filing their way through reception into various corridors bound for their chosen events.

‘Our Woodlands Restaurant reported a 50% uptake in business over the weekend. It was terrific for the Boswell Book Festival, for Dumfries House, as well as for Cumnock and Ayrshire as a whole.’

Cumnock’s Dumfries Arms Hotel was full to capacity all weekend, referring the many ‘overflow’ customers to Auchinleck’s Railway Hotel who enjoyed a 75% increase in bookings over the Festival period.

From all perspectives, it seems that once again, Gogglebox’s Mary summed up the entire weekend – perfectly: ‘From my point of view the only bad thing about the Boswell Book Festival was the leaving of it! Also that it sets the bar too high for rivals. I can’t congratulate you enough.’