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Scottish Book Festivals: Three Great Literary Events In The Highlands

Updated on July 30, 2012
Scotland has a wide and varied body of literature to draw upon
Scotland has a wide and varied body of literature to draw upon | Source

Scotland's Literary Tradition

Scotland has a long history of producing great poetry, drama and prose and its writers have been influential in the development of literature throughout the world. In recent years, literary festivals showcasing contemporary talent have become popular in locations throughout the country. While some festivals such as the Edinburgh International Book Festival are well known, others may not be quite so familiar. There are dozens of book festivals occurring at locations around Scotland each year, but I have chosen to give details on three of my favourites, which are held annually in the Scottish Highlands.

A view of the town of Ullapool on the west coast of Scotland
A view of the town of Ullapool on the west coast of Scotland | Source

Ullapool Book Festival

Established in 2005, the Ullapool Book Festival hosts events featuring writers from across Scotland and indeed from throughout the world Held in May each year, the festival is held at several venues in this picturesque little town, of approximately 1300 inhabitants.

Originally established as a fishing port, Ullapool benefits from the North Atlantic Drift which brings a moderate climate. Located 56 miles north west of Inverness, Ullapool is a popular tourist destination which offers great opportunities for hill walking. It is also possible to take a ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis and, from there, to enjoy a tour of the Western Isles.

With numerous guest houses and hotels, there are plenty of choices for accommodation in Ullapool and a visit to The Ceilidh Place where you can enjoy a meal, a drink, or listen to live music is a must.


Inverness Book Festival

Inverness is the capital of the Highlands and is a great place to base yourself if you want to tour the region. It is accessible by air or by rail with several daily flights from London and other major UK cities and regular trains from throughout the country.

The annual Inverness Book Festival is held in July at Eden Court Theatre, which lies in a picturesque spot near the River Ness. It attracts a variety of people with a range of events featuring authors of fiction and non-fiction for all ages. The event showcases the work of local authors as well as those from farther afield.

There are lots of great hotels and guest houses in Inverness where you can stay, ranging from those with basic amenities to extremely luxurious accommodations.

The town of Nairn, as seen from the sand dunes
The town of Nairn, as seen from the sand dunes | Source

Nairn Book And Arts Festival

Approximately sixteen miles east of Inverness, the small town of Nairn is home to one of the best book festivals in the north of Scotland. Mixing author events with drama and art activities, the festival is held in September. This week long event attracts an eclectic mix of authors from across Scotland and beyond. Many of the events are held in the local community centre or Nairn's Little Theatre which is an intimate venue holding just 70 people.

The town of Nairn is an interesting place to visit. Its High Street dates back to the medieval period and you may also enjoy wandering through the historic Fishertown area, leading down to the harbour. Nairn expanded during the Victorian era and there are many beautiful houses from that period. The town has a fantastic museum showcasing items from the area's long history. There is also a beautiful beach to enjoy.

Accommodation in Nairn is varied. There's a holiday park with caravans, numerous guest houses and several hotels, ranging in cost.

show route and directions
A markerinverness -
Inverness, Highland, UK
get directions

B markernairn -
Nairn, Highland, UK
get directions

C markerullapool -
Ullapool, Highland, UK
get directions

D markerullapool -
Ullapool, Highland, UK
get directions


Submit a Comment

  • Gordon Hamilton profile image

    Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

    I was at many Scottish literary and book festivals when I lived in Edinburgh, both during the international Edinburgh festival and at other times of year. Some of them were OK but I have no doubt that these festivals you have highlighted would definitely be more interesting and authentic. I would love to experience them first hand and really hope to do so some day. Thanks for the info.

  • Nettlemere profile image

    Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

    I hadn't heard of the book festivals either - the only Scottish Arts things that gets promoted in this neck of the woods is the Edinburgh festival. Useful to know about these and will share with my sister in law who is a published poet.

  • alliemacb profile image

    alliemacb 5 years ago from Scotland

    Hi Melovy. The Ullapool festival is usually really good. Lots of great book events, live music and amazing scenery. Well worth the trip! Thanks for stopping by

  • Melovy profile image

    Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

    I've been to Inverness and Nairn several times, but didn't know about any of these festivals, so will look out for them in future. I think there must be a book festival almost every month somewhere in Scotland, though I've only every been to Edinburgh's. I would love to visit Ullapool - maybe next May would be the time to go!

  • Jenna Pope profile image

    Jenna Pope 5 years ago from Southern California

    I would love to see the Highlands. Very good Hub. Voted up.