Edinburgh International Book Festival 2013

Well, I went to the Edinburgh International Book Festival for the first time, and I am so glad I did. So I thought I would write a wee bit about it, and hope it will inspire others to inquire about going next year. Also I would love to hear from any one who went this year, or has been previously, and what your thoughts were. Would you go back? Who did you see? What did you like? What did you not like? Anything you would like to share. Please leave a comment 🙂

I was very interested this year when I noticed several mental health related talks as I am a psychology student with an overriding interest in mental health. So after narrowing down to four events I booked my tickets and excitedly waited for the dates to come round. The events I booked were:

  • John Killick – Positive Approaches to Dementia
  • Blueprint Debate – Mental Health
  • Susan Greenfield – Do we need imagination in order to remember?
  • Darian Leader – Is this the bipolar age?

There were a lot of events I would have loved to have went to but at £8 per student ticket it was a bit pricy to go to all the events I wanted to, never mind several were already sold out when I ordered my tickets! So tip one – if there is something you really want to see, order the ticket as soon as they are available.

I really enjoyed the events I went to because they allowed me to think from different view points, and each event has a book that the speaker has written that goes with the talk. This means if you really enjoy the talk you will want to buy the book to find out more! However one thing that I found was that the talks did not necessarily look at what was advertised. For example,  Susan Greenfields talk entitled ‘Do we need imagination in order to remember?’ didn’t really focus on imagination, which for me was slightly disappointing. The Blueprint Debate on mental health didn’t feel like a debate to me which was disappointing. I like to hear two very opposing sides and learn the credits of each point of view. This felt more like ‘we agree on most things’ and now the issue is ‘where do we go from here?’. This is an interesting question and is an important question. However, I thoroughly enjoyed all events and found the chair people, especially Ruth Wishart, were excellent.

The festival is held in Charlotte Square and has a garden in the middle where you can relax and read. There is coffee, there is two book shops, selling the books featured in the festival along with others. There is signings and a general feeling of book appreciation.

I loved it.

For children there are many events, and it was so nice to see children who love books running around. I was chatting to several people, everyone feels like they are part of a community due to their shared interest in books. However, not having children I do not know much about the Children’s shows at the festival but check out the official website to find out more. I would suggest this as a fabulous day out for all ages during the summer. Something to put in your diary and investigate for next years summer holidays!

My advice:

  • Get a copy of the program when it comes out, or look at the program online and make not of all the events you are interested in, including their times, dates, and prices.
  • Narrow down what you want to see and try and get a few events on the same day, if you are traveling to Edinburgh. You may also want to look at what is on at the Fringe festival and find some other events to go to.
  • Make sure you book tickets as soon as they are available – many events sell out quickly and you cannot guarantee to get returns on the day of the event (as my boyfriend found out when the woman in front of him got the last ticket for an event)
  • Take some lunch with you if you are on your budget. There is drinking taps, so bring a water bottle with you.
  • If you are on a budget and want some books signed, buy the books before you go, even read them so you can ask some good questions! If you don’t manage to get a book before, buy it in the shop at the festival before the event if there is a signing, as often they will sell out during the signing.
  • Take note of what authors are signing on the days you are going, even if you aren’t going to their events, as you can still get your book signed!
  • There is many good book shops in Edinburgh so visiting some of these may save some money compared to the festival book shop – all books are at their R.R.P.
  • IMPORTANT: They are very strict about getting to the event before it starts, if you are even one minute late you will not get in. People begin queuing approximately 30mins before the event starts, so if you are wanting a ‘good’ seat get there quickly. Although most seats are ‘good’.
  • There is provisions for those with needs, such as reserved seating for those with mobility issues. Some events have a sign language interpreter. So have a look on the official website about information about this.

Any other advice? Let me know in the comments section. What I might do – if I remember – is put a combined list of advice, both mine and any of your advice, nearer the event time next year. Think that could be a plan.

I loved the festival, and will definitely be going back next year!


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