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November 1, 2016

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2016: Jani Brooks Reports

Posted by emily

This past August, Edinburgh was host to their very own international book festival, set in a specially created tent village in Charlotte Square Gardens. They welcomed more than 800 authors in over 700 events, including novelists, poets, scientists, philosophers, sportsmen, illustrators, comics creators, historians, musicians, biographers, environmentalists, economists, Nobel and Booker prize-winners and many more besides. Jani Brooks from Rhode Island was lucky enough to attend, and here she shares her experience with us, including amazing descriptions of Scotland's sights and sounds and her very special Outlander-themed trip.

[The Edinburgh International Book Festival] was in August, and I'm just now sitting down to write about it! I have no idea where the time went. It seems like yesterday that I was there.

The Edinburgh Book Festival is just a part of all that goes in the city during the month of August. The Edinburgh Festival runs the entire month, as does the wild and crazy Fringe Festival. The Art Festival runs concurrently also; plus, there is the Military Tattoo that goes on each night, culminating with amazing fireworks over Edinburgh Castle. My friends and I rented a flat in the Grassmarket in the "Old" town that had a stunning balcony view of the Castle, and we would take a glass of wine and sit up there watching the fireworks. Our flat also faced the Grassmarket, and we enjoyed an unobstructed view of all of the wild and crazy buskers who entertained the crowds --- from jugglers to bagpipers to the Dudu Guru who took 20 or more people (armed with headphones) up and down the streets dancing and singing.

The International Book Festival started on August 13th; we arrived on the 16th, and I just missed getting to attend author Alison Weir's lecture. It was centered in Charlotte Square in the "New" town (Georgian era). There were tents set up around an open area where people could sit and read or chat or drink tea, a vast tent of new publications, and one just for children's books. The authors spoke in various locations, but there were a few in this area, and the lines to get in were huge. Sadly, I didn't get to attend any of these, mostly because I didn't know the authors, or the tickets were long sold out. My friend who lives in Edinburgh was busy the entire time attending lectures, many with her granddaughters. It's a vibrant scene, and I met quite a few Americans loaded down with books while waiting to purchase mine!

If you've never been to Edinburgh, August is the month to go. Yes, it's crowded, but what an atmosphere! There is something going on at every corner. Book early!

We also took an escorted two day side trip to Inverness and the Highlands. This was mostly to visit the Culloden Battlefield, as all three of us are Outlander fans (I’ve been a fan since 1997!). The moor where the battle took place has been changed over the years since I was first there in 1996. There is an amazing tourist building that the National Trust built, and it's very impressive. It's interactive and can be heart wrenching when in the 360 degree video. Walking the moor is sobering, especially seeing the stone monuments with the clan names of those who are buried there. Our tour also took us to Clava Cairns nearby, which had all of the Outlander fans on the bus comparing it to Craig na Dun.

So, I highly recommend a trip to Scotland, whether it's to experience the Festivals or to tour the Highlands. It's a beautiful country.