Welcometo the 16th Nairn Book & Arts Festival

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The committee have put together a packed programme for the 2019 Festival. Many of our events are focused on ‘our roots and who we are’, and with this in mind we are delighted to welcome Leila Aboulela as our opening speaker. Our closing speaker is TV and radio journalist and broadcaster John Sergeant. In between these stellar bookends you will discover an exceptional range of authors, poets, musicians, artists and speakers. There is also a variety of workshops including, for the first time, an outdoor one for adults. Clare Hunter is running a very exciting workshop over two days to create a banner which will reflect past and present Nairn. We are delighted that, for a second time, the Earl of Moray has agreed to give a tour of the private art collection at Darnaway Castle. We are confident that everyone will find an event to suit them. However, as most of us are reluctant to leave our comfort zone (myself included), I would like to challenge you this year to purchase a ticket for an additional event that is not on your ‘must see’ list.Once again we are indebted to all our funders and sponsors without whom we could not run the Festival. A final thanks must go to every member of the committee who work hard all year to produce the ideas and then implement them to bring you an exciting programme of events. We hope you enjoy this year’s Festival.

Mavis Macdonald, Chair. On behalf of Nairn Book & Arts Festival Committee


The Festival

Nairn Book and Arts Festival (10th -15th September 2019) is a six day celebration of literature and the arts in the Highlands, set in the historic seaside town of Nairn. Now in its 16th year, it presents a packed programme of  events in indoor and outdoor venues across the town.

The Festival offers talks and readings by well-established, nationally known authors, new and local writers, and simultaneously translated Gaelic language author events.

There is a lively poetry programme with an afternoon of readings by some of the country’s best-known names at Nairn’s stunning Little Theatre, and a roving poet popping up in unexpected places around the town. Visitors can enjoy live performances by first-class musicians, and talks on art, history, and heritage. The festival also offers drama, film, and visual arts exhibitions, creative workshops for people of all ages and an outdoors open mic session for teens. 

The festival even has its own Fringe, with some local creative groups staging their own events in festival week.

We have an outreach programme for local schools, and the programme pre-launches with a Gaitherin` Day on Saturday 7th September, with free fun activities and storytelling for young people, performance from local drama and dance groups, and a street based food fair, showcasing local artisan fare. 


Festival staff and Organising Committee

Who we are:

The Festival is a charity and company limited by guarantee with four Directors, a Chair, Interim Treasurer, and Vice Chair. The festival has a newly established Governance group headed by the Vice Chair, which is reviewing and updating our procedures and processes as we move into a new stage of the Festival’s future , and with a new festival Co-ordinator – cultural manager Elle Tyler, and Chair – Mavis Macdonald, who many will know as the owner of independent, recently expanded and wonderful Nairn Bookshop. Tanera Bryden looks after festival PR and marketing, assists the Co-ordinator with fundraising and has co-ordinated the visual arts programme since 2013. The festival organising committee is made up of a group of hardworking and experienced volunteers led by Mavis. They are: Paddy Maher, Kate Ashton, Elaine James, Mairi Main, Marion McOwan, Ellen Maxwell, Helen Wright, Ronnie Main, David Huggan, Laura Blaikie, Denise Collins and Alex Williamson. Additional support for the festival is provided by many people including the wonderful team led by Sam Morrison at Nairn Community and Arts Centre, volunteers at Nairn’s Little Theatre, a group of fantastic exhibition invigilators, Nairn Rotary volunteers, curator Kirsten Body, sound engineer Iain MacDonald and Moray College UHI Fine Art tutor Shaun Macdonald. 

More details about the organising committee:

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