Ness Book Fest 2021 – The Inverness Book Festival Returns

The local Inverness book festival – Ness Book Fest returns from September 30th to October 2nd 2021.

For more Inverness Events in September read our regular Inverness events blog.

Ness Book Fest has been in the Inverness events calendar for several years now. The pandemic may have put the live event on hold since 2019, but this year sees its welcome return in a hybrid online/live form.

Due to the continuing restrictions associated with COVID-19, the festival is pared back this year with a handful of well-curated events to choose from.

All the events are free and feature big names like the broadcaster/podcaster/author/comedian Robin Ince, crime writer Lin Anderson, as well as a raft of more local talent. There will be readings, Q&A’s, and literary discussions, as well workshops, a school programme, Gaelic language events, and a showing of the Mel Brooks film 84 Charing Cross Road at Eden Court.

Chairperson of Ness Book Fest Emma Hamilton said “We have planned a smaller festival this year than we are used to but we like to think of this programme as small, but perfectly formed. Initially, we had planned to provide a wholly digital festival, but with the easing of restrictions and with the help of our wonderful venue partners, we have managed to organise some fantastic live events as well as some really interesting digital events.”

All events are free and tickets are available from Eventbrite and the Ness Book Fest website.

Ness Book Fest Lineup

What’s on at Ness Book Fest 2021?

The Inverness festival begins with the live Ness Book Fest launch event with crime writer Lin Anderson who will be talking about her latest book ‘The Killing Tide’ at the Junction Church on Thursday 30th September at 7 pm. Four of Lin’s novels have been longlisted for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, with Follow the Dead being a 2018 finalist. Her short film River Child won both a Scottish BAFTA for Best Fiction and the Celtic Film Festival’s Best Drama Award and has now been viewed more than one million times on YouTube

Also on Thursday is a raft of online school events: award-winning writer Cal Flyn, Illustrator Corrina Campbell, Gaelic writer Catriona Lexy Campbell, and Gaelic writer and publisher Raghnaid Sandilands all providing workshops for either primary or secondary children.

Lin Anderson Launches Ness Book Fest on Thursday 30th September.

Friday Events at Ness Book Fest

Friday the 1st of October begins with the Primary School Read-in, where school kids will be asked to take part in a nationwide ‘read-in’. The festival hopes to beat its previous record in 2019 of over 14000 school kids taking part and stopping to read for 20 minutes between 9.15 am and 9.45 am.

Two Inverness live events take place on Friday. The first is an editing workshop in the Inverness Archive Centre with the Highland-based author and publisher director of Sandstone PressMoira Forsyth. Later in the afternoon, we are treated to poetry in the gorgeous surroundings of the Inverness Botanic Gardens. Local poet Aoife Lyall will be reading from her debut collection ‘Mother, Nature’, which has been described as ‘staggeringly tender’.

Friday Evening at Ness Book Fest

Friday evening sees a Gaelic language online event from poet and singer Sandy NicDhòmhnaill Jones.  Her latest collection of Gaelic Poetry and Songs ‘The Seventh Wave’ was published by Acair in June 2021.  Her first collection ‘Red Lichen’ was published by Acair in 2016 and won second prize that year in the Donald Meek Award.  She previously won the Wigtown Gaelic Poetry Prize in 2013; the Irish/Scots Gaelic Poetry Prize ‘Choirnéil Uí Néill’ in 2014; and a 2011 Scottish Book Trust New Writer’s Award.

Closing the Friday night is the comedian, author, broadcaster, and a populariser of scientific ideas Robin Ince! He is probably best known as the co-host of the Sony Gold Award-winning BBC Radio 4 series The Infinite Monkey Cage with Professor Brian Cox. In addition, he co-hosts the podcast Book Shambles with Josie Long, An Uncanny Hour and Science Shambles with Dr Helen Czerski, all three of which are a part of The Cosmic Shambles Network, also a co-creation.

Robin Ince Digital Event on Friday Night

Saturday Events at Ness Book Fest

A trail through the heart of Inverness city centre begins on Saturday at 2 pm. This hour-long ‘Wild About Inverness’ hunt created by local author Pauline Mackay will begin at the Millennium Circle at the foot of Market Brae Steps and will take you and the kids on a tour through Inverness city centre where you will discover mythical, wild and domestic creatures hiding in plain sight! The ‘Wild About Inverness’ sticker book (aimed at 5 – 10 year-olds) is available to buy if wished and follows the route, using a variety of activities including mazes, counting, colouring-in and join-the-dots, with snippets of information and questions along the way and a four-page pull-out map and location guide.

Friday at 3 pm is an online lecture from author, broadcaster and storyteller Ruairidh Maclean on two pivotal moments in Scottish-Irish relations– St Columba’s meeting with the Pictish king, and the meeting of the UK Cabinet in Inverness 100 years ago to map out the future of Ireland after decades of struggle and insurrection.

Inverness-based author Barbara Henderson reads from and discusses her latest work ‘Scottish By Inclination’ in the Junction Church at 5.30 pm. Her latest book is a collection of profiles of EU citizens who have made their mark on Scotland, as well as reflections on Barbara’s own three decades in Scotland.

Saturday Evening at Ness Book Fest

The evening has two film-based events hosted by Eden Court Theatre. Journalist and author Brian Pendreigh will be discussing his novel ‘Man In The Seventh Row’ – a story of a man being sucked into the action of movies with which he fell in love as a boy and young man in Scotland, films including The Magnificent Seven, Blade Runner and Braveheart. The novel has been acclaimed by reviewers and writers, including Andrew Marr and Ian Rankin, and was selected as a Scotsman book of the week, a BookBub recommended read, and featured in Amazon’s Literary Fiction bestsellers list.

After Brian’s live event, (and closing the festival) will be a free showing of the Mel Brooks film 84 Charing Cross Road at Eden Court. This classic 1987 British-American drama tells the story of New York bibliophile Helene Hanff, who writes to the London bookshop Marks & Co in search of titles she cannot locate elsewhere. When shop manager Frank responds, their correspondence marks the beginning of a long friendship. Based on a true story, the film stars Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins and Judi Dench.

Timetable for Ness Book Fest 2021

Click the links below for tickets and more information on the event.

30th September

19.00Lin AndersonLiveJunction ChurchTickets via Eventbrite

1st October

14.00Moira ForsythLiveInverness Archive Centre  Tickets via Eventbrite
16.00Aoife LyallLiveInverness Botanic Gardens  Tickets via Eventbrite
17.00Sandy NicDhòmhnaill JonesOnlineWatch on NBF YouTube/Facebook  No ticket required
20.00Robin InceOnlineWatch on NBF YouTube/FacebookNo ticket required

2nd October

14.00Pauline MackayLiveInverness City Centre  Tickets via Eventbrite
15.00Ruairidh MacleanOnlineZoom  Tickets via Eventbrite
17.30Barbara HendersonLiveJunction Church  Tickets via Eventbrite
19.30Brian PendreighLiveEden Court  Tickets via Eden Court
20.00Film: 84 Charing Cross RoadLiveEden CourtTickets via Eden Court

School Events

30th September  Cal Flyn – Secondary School WorkshopOnline
30th September  Corrina Campbell – Primary School WorkshopOnline
30th SeptemberCatriona Lexy Campbell – Gaelic Primary School WorkshopOnline
30th SeptemberRaghnaid Sandilands – Gaelic Secondary School WorkshopOnline
1st October 9.15 – 9.45Primary School Read-inOnline

*All live events will be subject to COVID-19 restrictions, so please bring a mask and observe social distancing where possible. All events will be free, but donations will be accepted at the events for those wishing to contribute.

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