John Cleese, Michael Parkinson & Judy Murray Headline the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival

Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star John Cleese, TV legend Michael Parkinson, and top international tennis coach Judy Murray are some of the many highlights at this summer’s Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival in Melrose.  

Today, Wednesday 26th April, the full line-up is announced and tickets go on sale for the fourteenth book festival, which runs from 15th to 18th June 2017.  Harmony Garden in Melrose in the Scottish Borders will play host as the stunning backdrop for this rich and lively festival, welcoming some of the biggest names from the world of books, entertainment and politics.

The programme of over 100 events includes best-selling novelists Joanna Trollope and Arabella Weir, journalist Misha Glenny; broadcaster James Naughtie; satirist and Private Eye co-founder Richard Ingrams; gardening expert Carol Klein; star of Dinner Ladies and Last Tango in Halifax Anne Reid, and No. 1 crime writers Val McDermid, and Ann Cleeves, best known for the TV hit series Vera and Shetland.    Also from the world of crime, Chris Brookmyre and Mark Billingham are back by popular demand with their double act, as well as foodie raconteur Jay Rayner with his Ten (Food) Commandments; wildlife TV-presenter Steve Backshall; Top Gear and Grand Tour TV script editor Richard Porter and political satirist and impressionist, Rory Bremner.

With the festival now supported by new headline sponsor, global investment managers Baillie Gifford, the programme will incorporate a new Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Non-Fiction series featuring high profile events on a variety of topical subjects by experts in their field including:  political journalist Tim Shipman; current affairs commentator and writer James Fergusson and politician and diplomat,  Rory Stewart

Former BBC correspondent Allan Little, who has reported for over 30 years from more than 80 countries, will be delivering the inaugural Brewin Dolphin Lecture on the rapidly changing political world we are currently facing and where it will likely lead to.   

Philip Ardagh, Guy Bass, Vivian French, Petr Horacek and Derek Landy, bestselling author of  the Skulduggery Pleasant series, are just some of the names from the world of children’s books, who will entertain and energise the younger crowd for the hugely popular SBHA Family Book Festival, which includes kids craft activities and creative workshops throughout the Saturday and Sunday.   

This year adults get to go free to any SBHA Family Book Festival event so long as they are accompanied by at least one child!

In addition, throughout the four days, there will be live music, a street market, tented food village, champagne and whisky tastings and kids’ storytelling and circus skills, making the book festival a great day out for all the family to enjoy.

The winner of this year’s prestigious £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction will be announced on Saturday 17th June, from a shortlist including books by Sebastian Barry, Rose Tremain and Graham Swift.

Almost 2000 children and teachers from primary schools across the Scottish Borders will also attend the Schools Gala Day on Thursday 15th.

The festival welcomes the support of new headline sponsor Baillie Gifford and the ongoing sponsorship and backing of Scottish Borders Council, EventScotland, Brewin Dolphin, The National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Borders Housing Association, Arts & Business Scotland and the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund, as well as the book festival’s many other loyal supporters.

Alistair Moffat, Festival Director, said:

“Every year we aim to bring some magic to the Borders within the walls of Harmony Garden and this year is no exception. John Cleese, Michael Parkinson, Judy Murray, Anne Reid, Richard Ingrams, Allan Little, Steve Backshall, Rory Bremner, Jim Naughtie, Carol Klein, Joanna Trollope, and Melvyn Bragg will all, without doubt, enthral our audiences.  

We welcome our new title sponsor Baillie Gifford and look forward to a weekend of live debate, laughter and entertainment.”

James Budden, Director Marketing and Distribution at Baillie Gifford said:

“We have been trying to sponsor the Borders Book Festival for some time. It should prove a great fit with the other dozen or so festivals Baillie Gifford is associated with in the UK. So it is fantastic to be supporting such a successful literary experience. Being somewhat bookish ourselves we look forward to being involved in the occasion over the next few years at least.”

Kaite Welsh, Literature Officer at Creative Scotland said:

Since its inception, Borders Book Festival has been an essential fixture in the literary calendar. Always with a diverse programme of literary events in a beautiful setting, the talks enthral younger readers and stimulate debate in older ones. With a brilliant roster of well-known and emerging voices, 2017’s festival promises to be a highlight. “

The festival is supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.


Stuart Turner, Head of EventScotland, said:

“We are delighted to be supporting the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival, through our  Beacon Funding Programme. Once again, the festival offers a fantastic line-up of renowned writers and speakers, appealing to people of all ages and interests.”

 "Scotland is the perfect stage for cultural events, and in the Borders Book Festival we have an event that will capture the imagination of visitors from the Scottish Borders and further afield."

 David Watt, Chief Executive Arts & Business Scotland, said

“We are really pleased to be supporting the festival this year with a New Arts Sposnorship Grant, which recognises the partnership with Douglas Home |& Co, sponsors of the Orchard Marquee. We would also like to congratulate the new partnership between the Borders Book Festival and Baillie Gifford and look forward to an exciting and fun-packed festival in June.”

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