Jun 16, 2011

See you in Edinburgh?

Writer's Museum, Edinburgh Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011

The program for this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival was announced today; I’ve wanted to go for pretty much as long as I’ve known it existed, and as I currently live a mere three hour train ride away I decided this year had to be the year. However, limited free time (plus a graduate student’s very modest finances) means I can only go for a small part of the festival’s seventeen days duration. I’m unfortunately arriving too late for Meg Rosoff, Cory Doctorow, Kelly Link, Audrey Niffenegger and Neil Gaiman, and leaving too early for A.S. Byatt (though at least I found out that Byatt’s event is for her upcoming contribution to the Canongate Myth Series, Ragnarok: The End of the Gods, to be published in September. Yes, that sound you just heard was my happy tap-dancing.)
Ragnarok: The End of the Gods by A.S. Byatt

As I’m sure you can imagine, I’m particularly disappointed to be missing Neil Gaiman, but part of me hopes he’ll be around for a few days longer and I’ll serendipitously run into him (whether I’d be brave enough to say hi is a whole other matter, though). Plus there have been hints of more UK events in early September, so I’m clinging to that hope.

But enough about what I’m not seeing: I’m planning to attend events by Patrick Ness (!), China MiĆ©ville, Shaun Tan (also deserving of a !, methinks), Kate de Goldi (author of my beloved The 10PM Question) and Morris Gleitzman (whose Two Weeks With the Queen is a masterpiece). Plus I’m catching music shows by Amanda Palmer and The National (my favourite band) - I can’t really complain, can I?

Edinburgh in August also means the Fringe Festival, whose extremely diverse program has me completely overwhelmed. So many performances, so little money and time! So far I’ve picked a stage adaptation of The Secret of Monkey Island (a classic of my childhood – I couldn’t not go) and The Girl with the Iron Claws, a puppetry show based on a Norse myth, “The White Bear King”.

The Girl with the Iron Claws

I could also go see Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, or The Tempest, or Macbeth, but a) I’m trying not to overcommit myself and leave free time for signings, book browsing, soaking up the festival atmosphere and sightseeing and b) I’m trying to stick to shows that sound a little different and that I’d probably not have the chance to see anywhere else. I’m lucky enough to be going to two Shakespeare’s Globe performances this summer (Halmet near me and Much Ado About Nothing at the actual Globe - insert squeeing here), so there’s that to consider. Anyway, my relative ignorance of theatrical matters plus the incredibly diversity of performances on offer are making me slightly anxious, so if anyone has any tips they’d be very much appreciated.

I’ve been to Edinburgh before, but I’m sure there was plenty that I missed: any city-related tips would be welcomed as well. I was also wondering if anyone else is planning to attend – if so, it would be lovely to say hi. The only downside of all of this is that now I have to work extra hard on my dissertation to make sure I can take those days off in August. But hey, a booklover’s dream holiday is certainly an excellent motivator.

37 comments:

  1. Wow! 17 day long festival, that is incredible. I'm jealous, that is a fantastic list of authors and events. I don't know how you will choose what to do and I have no tips but have fun and good luck and post about it please!! :D

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  2. I am so incredibly jealous! I would love to go!

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  3. *comes back dejected after checking flight costs* LOL

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  4. Amy: lol - that was me every summer until now :P I couldn't not take advantage of the fact that this year I'm so close. If only I could go for the whole seventeen days. But I'm not going to complain :P And yes, I will certainly post about it!

    Zee: Euro book bloggers meeting 2013? ;)

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  5. That would be lovely, unfortunately I have two black-out periods every year: end of June (BEA) and the last two weeks in August. *mutters about stupid school children* :D

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  6. That sounds absolutely fabulous and like Amy I'm in awe of a 17-day-long book festival -- wow! And lucky you that you'll get to see Shaun Tan, even if you do miss Gaiman! Have a fabulous time and please do tell us all about it!

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  7. Sounds amazing. And a big YAY that you are seeing China Mieville!

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  8. Oh, how I wish I could go! It sounds like a blast!

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  9. Sounds like an exciting itinerary, despite not meeting some of the authors you wanted to. But at least you get to *stalkystalk* Mr Ness ;)

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  10. 17 days of bookish fun?? That would be the ultimate dream vacation!

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  11. I so wish you could all come! And don't worry - if anything, you'll get tired of me posting too much about it :P

    Darren, I'm really starting to wonder where you could possibly have gotten the crazy idea that I'm some sort of stalker. SO unfair :P

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  12. I LOVE the National! Seeing them at Latitude this summer, so excited! So envious of all the theatre you'll get the chance to see too. I saw All's Well That Ends Well at The Globe a couple of weeks ago and it was sooooo good. Hoping to catch Hamlet in Cambridge in July too. Enjoy the plays ;)

    The Girl with the Iron Claws sounds awesome too. Let us know what its like.

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  13. I had no idea this festival even existed. I'm only an hour away by train. I've already checked out the website. They have some amazing authors attending. Now I'm trying to figure out how I can make it work so that I can go!

    Thanks for sharing! I hope you have an amazing time.

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  14. What an amazing festival! A Booklovers holiday sounds like the stuff of dreams! I'm happy for you that you're able to go to some of the Edinburgh festival. I'm already looking forward to your post about your adventure!

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  15. Holy cow! What a line-up (of those you will and won't see). I'm terribly envious. And 17 days of bookish events? WOW!

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  16. This sounds great! I'm planning on having 2 weeks off in August so I could actually make it...

    I passed by Hay-on-Wye but since my husband is not really into literature, it wasn't as great as it could have been. So I'm really thinking of going to Edingburgh on my own. When will you be there, if I may ask?

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  17. I was looking through the program to see if Patrick Ness would be there but didn't get through the whole thing!

    Which days will you be there? :)

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  18. I live in England yet these festivals slip under my nose! I think you will have a fabulous time. I am envious that you will see Patrick Ness. I want photos!

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  19. Hey Ana! Thanks for mentioning this. I'm still very blurry about the whole UK events and know very little about them. Where do you live? I just checked it's 4.5 hours train ride away from London (where I thought you lived in/around). I'm seriously considering to go but I might just be able to get away on the weekend, with just one night stay or something (work, work, sad). Where will you stay in Edinburgh? I'd love recommendation to save time searching. It's my turn to be jealous with you seeing Shaun Tan! I'm sure you'll enjoy the masterclass! I love Secret of Monkey Island too, so that sounds very exciting! (but I don't think I can make it, as that is on Monday). Anyway, please reply and share info, or email me if it's too much to put here ;)

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  20. I really wish I was going (Caitlin Moran!), but life is so packed this summer I will need one week in Aug to decompress. Good luck with the hard work in return for such a delicious time.

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  21. That sounds absolutely fantastic, have a blast! :)

    I was planning on seeing Edingurgh next spring, so I'll be noting any city tips down! :)

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  22. So cool to hear that they have a Fringe Festival in Edinburgh! We have one here in Orlando in May ever year, but I doubt that the performances will be the same. It sounds like this is an opportunity not to be missed, and I am glad that you will be able to attend! I do so hope that you will post some pictures and a recap when all is said and done! Have a great time out there!

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  23. Thank you so much, everyone! I'm sure I'm going to have a wonderful time :D And unless they have a strict no cameras policy, you can definitely count on lots of pictures!

    PherenV and Amy, I'm going from the 21st to the 26th - it would be lovely to say hi if you were there too :)

    Mee: I'm in Manchester, so it's a bit closer for me. But then again one hour and a half isn't that huge a difference in the end. I'm staying at a backpackers hostel - I know not everyone likes them, but until I graduate and find a Proper Adult Job they're really my only option if I want to travel :P Last time I was in Edinburgh I stayed at a place right by Greyfriars Kirdyard called Budget Backpackers, which turn out to be one of my favourite hostels ever. Sadly this time they were full (that's the only problem with the festival - according to some the population of Edinburgh doubles for those few weeks, so you have to book everything very far in advance), so I picked one called Castle Rock which is right by the castle. I always use hostelworld.com to book and they have a 90% rating there, so it should be pretty good. Sadly the only days both my boyfriend and I had available were the 21st-26th, which means my stay is not going to include any weekends. So we might not be there at the same time, but I hope you have tons of fun if you end up going :) Also, I'm really considering going down to London to the British Library event in September Neil Gaiman keeps hinting at, so maybe I'll see you there instead :D

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  24. I went last year (or two years ago) and it was pretty good. Best author events were David Crystal and Alasdair Gray.

    Neil Gaiman was a disappointment, he just read from The Graveyard Book. I can read you know, please just talk about writing etc

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  25. You are so lucky and I am so jealous! Have a great time. :)

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  26. I would love to go! But I don't think my finances, or my thesis, will allow me. But it looks like you're going to have a great time!

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  27. Awesome post, Ana! Hope you have a wonderful time in Edinburgh! I thought London was one of the literary capitals of the world, but from your post, it looks like Edinburgh might be pushing it to the side :) Hope you can catch up with Neil Gaiman and Antonia Byatt. Looking forward to following your Edinburgh adventures.

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  28. Oh have a brilliant time! I'm so envious! Neil Gaiman is always coming to New York (well, twice) right when I don't have enough money to go see him speak. So I greatly sympathize with you about missing him. He's in conversation with Lev Grossman this Tuesday but I don't have enough money for a ticket AND am supposed to be apartment-hunting every night this week. Pooh.

    You have to tell us all about Patrick Ness! Every word he says! Particularly if he happens to mention what he thinks happens to everyone after the end of Monsters of Men. :p

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  29. Oh, I hope you have a wonderful time...sooo much fun, and a Norse puppetry show...how exciting!!

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  30. You'll have such fun, Ana! China Mieville alone is fantastic. Edinburgh during the Festival is insane but you can always escape to Glasgow, which is only 50mins away by train ;)

    Neil Gaiman is hinting at a British Library event? I'm out of the loop just now - please keep me posted if he announces something? I'd love to hear him talk again. There's a good chance he'll stay around for Amanda's gig; he did last time and did a signing there.

    Also, perhaps we could meet up again when you visit the Globe? Teresa (of Shelf Love) and I went to see Macbeth at the Globe, which was very good.

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  31. Ahh, I went to the Edinburgh Festival when I was there in 2008. I loved it! It's such a great time in the city, but So. Many. People. Be careful! I sadly missed the book festival, but my dream is to one day attend the Hay-on-Wye festival, so I am glad one of your book goals is being crossed off the list! And the author attendees for the days you'll be there are pretty impressive, too.

    As to sights to see in Edinburgh, I was sadly not with a very museum-impressed crowd (whereas I adore them), so I didn't see too many. I did go to the castle, though, and saw the military tattoo, which was pretty sweet.

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  32. Oh, Ana, you will have such a wonderful time! Ness, Mieville and Tan? I am green with envy. Someday maybe I'll fly over the pole and make it to Edinburgh.

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  33. I hope you'll have a wonderful time, sweetie! It sounds like it'll be fantastic, though. <3

    a stage adaptation of The Secret of Monkey Island (a classic of my childhood – I couldn’t not go)

    Pictures or it didn't happen. ^-~ More seriously, WHY DID I NEVER KNOW THIS ABOUT YOU?! I love MI! (It fills me with squee and love.) I am so, so jealous of you getting to see it performed on stage. It sounds awesome. (I did see part of a stage adaptation on YouTube once, but it's just not the same as actually being in a theatre.)

    Oooooh, so excited for you, Nymeth! <3<3<3 (And oh! When I was on holiday in Edinburgh we stayed at Castle Rock. It was my first hostel experience and it cured me of my fear of hostels.)

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  34. Thanks for giving your dates. I shall try and let you know.

    Regarding Neil Gaiman, the British Library did mention he is coming later in the year. They've been having this great exhibition on Science Fiction and holding conferences on many subjects that fall into it. I attended the one on Time Travel (got to say hi to Audrey Niffenegger and get her autograph too) and planning on a few more, such as the ones on Mervin Peak, etc. I'll definitely want to attend the one with Neil Gaiman. See you probably there then :O)

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  35. Ah Edinburgh at Festival time - fantastic place to visit even without some of those authors being there!

    I am not even going to check airfare prices, but I will be there in spirit!

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  36. Hi! I hope you snagged your ticket to The Secret Of Monkey Island early, as the online box office has rather quickly sold out. There may be tickets available from theSpaces box office if you have missed out. MAYBE.

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  37. Looking forward to seeing you at The Girl with the Iron Claws - from The Wrong Crowd (the creative team behind the show - we're at www.wrongcrowdtheatre.co.uk). Do come and say hello after!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.