The 2021 book festival ended with the final night’s conversation between First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Douglas Stuart, author of the 2020 Booker Prize winning novel, Shuggie Bain.

The Sculpture Court was renamed The New York Times Sculpture Court where the conversation took place and was filmed for the online audience.

This session, along with other events, is still available to watch online.

More than 1100 people watched the last night live, with thousands of others tuning in from all over the world during the 17 days of the festival.

The new home at the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh College of Art was deemed by organisers a great success. Some 25,000 people visited in person including those who watched the events on the big screen in the courtyard.

Some 250 events took place with 300 authors in three studio theatre spaces. Events included book launches and more than 56,000 people bought tickets to the online events.

Now you can continue to take part in the festival even though it is at an end and the courtyard has been cleared.

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “This year was a year of transition and experimentation.  I am extraordinarily proud of the team that has conceived, programmed and delivered a festival under the restrictions and uncertainty that we experienced right up until the beginning of August. We were at the very forefront of live events coming back, and there was understandably a nervousness amongst many of our regular audience in coming together in the same space.  As the Festival went on we saw visitors, and confidence, growing.   The world is a very different place from when we all came together in 2019, however our new home in the Edinburgh College of Art, the beginning of a long-term strategic partnership with the University of Edinburgh, has allowed us to ease gently back into our Festival, and we are now in a good place to grow and build upon what we have learned.    It is a time to look forward, not backwards, to consolidate and to celebrate not only what we have all achieved in this of all years, but also to take what we have learned and apply it to future Festivals.

“2021 was about bringing people back together in a safe space, building confidence amongst authors and audiences and reaching a new audience through broadcasting our events online.  Feedback from visitors both here in Edinburgh and those watching from home has been positive and generous.  We are already seeing our events garnering new audiences who are watching ‘on demand’ and we expect those numbers to grow significantly over the coming weeks.

“We are reimagining the Book Festival in this new climate.  It will take time – the world has changed, and we need to adapt and learn from our experience this year, however we are already making plans for 2022 and from the public response to the digital programme we will definitely include an online offering as well as the live, in person experience here in Edinburgh.”

Almost all the events in the 2021 Edinburgh International Book Festival programme can be viewed online ‘on demand’ through the Book Festival website – edbookfest.co.uk.  The 2022 Edinburgh International Book Festival will run from Saturday 13 to Monday 29 August from Edinburgh College of Art in Lauriston Place.

2021 Edinburgh International Book Festival at Edinburgh University’s Edinburgh College of Art, Lauriston Place. Val McDermid author and former footballer, Pat Nevin PHOTO ©2021 J.L.Preece

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