Joanna Lumley, Val McDermid and Andrew Marr to appear at Borders Book Festival revival

Stage and screen star Joanna Lumley, crime writer Val McDermid and broadcasters James Naughtie and Andrew Marr will be among the big names appearing at this year's Borders Book Festival when it returns to its traditional home for the first time in three years.

Impressionists Rory Bremner, Ronni Ancona and Lewis MacLeod, and comedian and actor Julian Clary have also been confirmed.

Organisers said more than 100 events are planned to be staged across four days in Harmony Gardens in Melrose in June.

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A special strand of the programme will be curated to mark the first official “Year of Scotland’s Stories.”

The Borders Book Festival will return to Harmony Garden in Melrose in June.

The festival, which was first held in 2004 and attracted more than 34,000 literary lovers when the event was last staged at Harmony Garden in 2019, was cancelled completely due to the Covid pandemic in 2020.

Last year it was put back from June until November and relocated to Abbotsford, the historic former home of Sir Walter Scott for an event which featured appearances from Hilary Mantel, Michael Palin, Robert Peston, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Christopher Brookmyre, Denise Mina and Gordon Brown.

This year’s event will see the announcement of the winner of the annual £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Joanna Lumley will appear at the Borders Book Festival in June. Picture: Matt Crossick

First awarded in 2010, and sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, the prize will be contested by 13 longlisted authors, including Douglas Bruton, Sebastastian Faulks, Andrew Greig, Stacey Halls, Neil Jordan, Ciarán McMenamin, Nadifa Mohamed, James Robertson, Sunjeev Sahota, Amanda Smyth, JR Thorp, Colm Tóibín and Sarah Winman.

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An official announcement about the return of this year’s festival said that its full programme would be announced, along with how to get tickets on 19 April.

Festival director Alistair Moffat said: “The Covid-19 pandemic, and everything it has meant for live events, has proved to each and every one of us what a privilege it is to be able to gather together and unite in a shared passion for the arts, discussion and debate.

The Borders Book Festival will be among the events staging special programmes for Scotland's Year of Stories in 2022.
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“Our 2021 festival at Walter Scott’s home was a beautifully poignant reintroduction to in-person events after a very long twenty months, and almost 11,000 people came to Abbotsford over the six days while the festival was on.

"But now our home of Harmony Garden in Melrose beckons us back for a June extravaganza of big names, big ideas and big ambitions.

"Abbotsford made a fabulous venue last November, and was especially fitting for the 250th anniversary year of Scott’s birth, but our hearts lie at Harmony Garden, and to return there more than two years since the pandemic paused life as we knew it is a poignant cause for reflection and celebration.

“This year, whilst all relevant Covid-19 measures will still be in place to ensure the safety and peace of mind of festival-goers, we hope to be able to return to relative pre-pandemic bliss – spending long, light days in a beautiful setting, surrounding ourselves with inspiring debates and exchanges of ideas to fuel mind and soul; and enjoying the delights, once more, of the food and drink village to fuel (just as importantly!) the body.”

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Val McDermid will be among the guest authors appearing at this year's Borders Book Festival.

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