Edinburgh International Book Festival is holding a free online Winter Warmer event as part of their ongoing Citizen project on Saturday.  

There will be events and creative activities for all the family ranging from theatrical storytelling and performance poetry to a reading from her new children’s book Where Snow Angels Go by the 2020 Women’s Fiction Prize Winner Maggie O’Farrell. 

All events are free to view and can be watched via Facebook Live or the Book Festival’s YouTube channel


The Book Festival’s Citizen programme works with groups in North Edinburgh and Musselburgh exploring their views on community and citizenship in 2020.  The Citizen Winter Warmer will also showcase the creative work of local people who have been working with Citizen writers in residence. 

Noelle Cobden, Communities Programme Director at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said: “In this strange year, in the darkness of December, our Citizen Winter Warmer will bring people together online for a day of family-fun and joy created by and with our Citizen Community Collaborators. 

“Alongside spotlight events championing the voices of local people, the day will include some of our favourite Scotland-based authors, illustrators and artists sharing readings and creative activities. With many traditional seasonal events cancelled this year, we hope that the Citizen Winter Warmer will connect people from across the city and beyond, building a sense of festive community spirit.”


The Citizen Winter Warmer is in three sections and the first starts at 10.30am with events suitable for families with younger children.  Including interactive 15-minute DrawAlongs with illustrators Eilidh Muldoon and Katie Chappell, storytelling from Macastory and a poetry workshop by the Citizen Schools Writer in Residence Leyla Josephine, the morning session concludes with a short reading by Maggie O’Farrell from her new children’s story.  These short, engaging activities are the perfect start to a Saturday morning for children aged 5+.  

10.30am | DrawAlong with Eilidh Muldoon! (5yrs+) — Facebook / YouTube
11.00am | Four Seasons – Storytelling with Macastory (3yrs+) — Facebook / YouTube
11.30am | Self Portrait Poems with Leyla Josephine (7yrs+) — Facebook / YouTube

From midday a programme for families with children aged 11+ starts with a workshop led by artists from the Edinburgh Zine Library and music from the Tinderbox Collective.  Acclaimed Scottish-Caribbean poet Courtney Stoddart performs some of her protest poetry and Citizen Writer in Residence Eleanor Thom leads a workshop helping audiences explore their local area with their very own memory map.

12 noon | Drawings Diaries with Katie Chappell (5yrs+) — Facebook / YouTube
12.30pm | Where Snow Angels Go – A Reading by Maggie O’Farrell (5yrs+) — Facebook / YouTube

2.30pm | Pass the Zine with Edinburgh Zine Library (11yrs+) — Facebook / YouTube
3.00pm | Music from the Tinderbox Collective (all ages) — Facebook / YouTube
3.30pm | Poems for Today with Courtney Stoddart (14yrs+) — Facebook / YouTube
4.00pm | Route of Memories with Eleanor Thom (11yrs+) — Facebook / YouTube

Early evening activities from 6.00pm are suitable for young adults and adults and include a reading from The Incredible Adam Spark by Alan Bissett, work from the Citizen Collective and the Citizen Writers’ Group and closes with a warm and soothing reading by Nadine Aisha Jassat from her Daughter of Stories.

6.00pm The Incredible Adam Spark – A Reading by Alan Bissett (YA and adults) — Facebook / YouTube
6.30pm | The Citizen Collective Stories and Ideas (YA and adults) — Facebook / YouTube
7.00pm | Citizen Writers’ Group – Sharing (adults) — Facebook / YouTube
7.30pm | Daughter of Stories – A Reading by Nadine Aisha Jassat (YA and adults) — Facebook / YouTube

The Citizen Winter Warmer is part of Edinburgh International Book Festival On the Road – a programme of events, festivals and residences taking place around Scotland throughout the year, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. 

Stephanie Kerr, Programmes Advisor at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Building on the successful virtual festival in the summer, the Edinburgh International Book Festival continues to innovate and introduce new ways to engage with their audiences. Citizen Winter Warmer, supported by funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, will be a fantastic event encouraging participation across all ages around the country.” 

Maggie O’Farrell Photo Murdo Macleod