This year’s Skye Book Festival has been hailed as one of the country’s best by leading writers.
Having had a successful fifth year, organisers of the Portree-based event say that the plaudits from their guests are most welcome and are confirmation that the major sponsors of Book Festivals throughout Scotland can continue to get good returns for their support.
Headlining Skye’s 2016 Festival was the multi award-winning author of The Lewis Trilogy and Coffin Road, Peter May, whose sell-out evening event was specially funded by Skye’s best-known export, Talisker whisky.
Heaping praise on the rapidly-growing event May said “The Skye Book Festival offered a wonderful welcome and a terrific event packed with enthusiastic book lovers; everyone was very welcoming, and the event was excellent.”
Similar sentiments have been expressed by the versatile best-seller, Joanne Harris who, fresh from success with collections of short stories and three cookbooks, came to the Skye Book Festival to launch her gripping new psychological thriller, Different Class.
Responding to her experience in Skye, the Cambridge-educated author, who was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2013, commented that she enjoyed “ a delightful, well-run festival, in stunning surroundings, and with engaged and enthusiastic audiences. I had a marvellous time, and would recommend it to anyone...”
Best known for her award-winning novel Chocolat, later turned into a successful film version which was nominated for 8 BAFTAs and 5 Oscars, Mrs Harris added that she hoped to return to Skye very soon.
Since its small beginnings, the Skye Book Festival has now become firmly embedded in the island calendar and its season-end timing has helped add to the visitor numbers in the first week of September.
Managing Director of host organisation The Aros Centre, Donald MacDonald, says that the growing range of sponsors this year is proof that well-organised and supported events can bring valuable endorsements. “Creative Scotland has been very supportive from the beginning and we have worked hard to add local backers to our efforts,” he said.
Mr MacDonald added that it was “tremendously encouraging to find big players in Skye’s tourism economy, such as Dunvegan Castle, also supporting us financially. All the support has enabled us to attract top authors who want to come to the Skye Book Festival to Launch and promote their books.”
The Skye Book festival has three unique features which have contributed greatly to its success. Each year, at least one session has been conducted entirely in Gaelic and has been attended by senior Gaelic students from Portree High School.
Previous years’ sessions have included book-binding workshops and one on the poetry of Sorley Maclean and the 2016 festival featured a session on newly-published First World War poetry in Gaelic, attracting funding support from Gaelic development body, Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
Adding to the range of new books available each year, Skye also attracts the patronage of the PBFA Antiquarian Book Fair, whose members’ stalls of rare and valuable books for sale, have been a highlight since the first Skye Book Festival in 2011.
Another exceptional feature is a Poetry Walk for which its initiator and organiser, retired Highland Council librarian, Davie McClymont, hails the festival as “The only book festival in Scotland that has a designated Poetry Walk as part of the festival, and as a permanent feature.”
With limited numbers owing to its outdoors nature, this element of the Skye Book Festival has, over the past three years, been quick to sell out.
The 2017 Skye Book Festival will be held from 31st August - 2nd September 2017 and internationally-known authors are already showing interest in attending.