The city has rich links to the words and works of some of the most celebrated writers who have ever lived. Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Muriel Spark, Irvine Welsh, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin and JK Rowling are just a handful of the many authors with connections to Edinburgh, so it is only appropriate that Edinburgh plays host to the largest book festival in the world.

Each August over 800 events for adults and children are held over three weeks, when international writers, poets and musicians arrive to engage audiences in readings, writing workshops, education events, panel discussions, talks and performances.

For 2021, the festival’s theme is Onwards and Upwards, with over 300 writers, artists and thinkers from around the globe coming together throughout the two weeks to share their ideas and stories for a changing world at the festival’s new home, the University of Edinburgh's Edinburgh College of Art. 

During the Festival dates, 14-30 August, you can enjoy more than 250 events for adults, children and families online, all available to watch on a Pay What You Can basis. Online events offer the opportunity to chat with fellow book lovers and connect with authors by asking questions in our live Q&As. You can also catch up on events at a time that suits you, and there’s unlimited ticket availability for the online programme, so you needn't worry about missing out.

Among the featured writers and thinkers areNobel Prize winners Amartya Sen and Kazuo Ishiguro, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Booker Prize winners Salman Rushdie, Bernardine Evaristo, Richard Flanagan and Scotland's own Douglas Stuart (with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon) and many more. 

This year the festival will explore stories and ideas for a changing world, one dealing with the impact of Covid-19, climate change, poverty, inequality and the varied effects of technology, with authors, politicians, doctors and others discussing the overlapping crises we face – and how we can move forward. Other key themes for 2021 include an interrogation of Britain's history of colonialism, a celebration of LGBTQIA+ voices, a look at the importance of our bodies in shaping our sense of self, and more.


Held in the leafy surroundings of Charlotte Square, the Edinburgh International Book Festival is still something of a newbie compared to others, starting in 1983 and only becoming an annual event in 1997.

The festival initially held 30 meet the author events in its tented village. Recent festivals have featured Margaret Atwood, Yann Martell, George Monbiot, Harold Pinter, Sebastian Faulks, Alan Bennet, Germaine Greer, Susan Sontag, Zadie Smith and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.