21 June

Festival 2024: Booking now open!

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We're delighted to launch our 21st festival programme! Themed ‘Wild Sides (Wilder Edges)’, this year's line-up features award-winning authors, an exciting programme of live music and performance, tours and workshops with something for everyone, and free family-friendly creative days filled with fun outdoor activities.

Read on for a round-up of some of this year's highlights, or download the full festival programme and book your tickets here!

Join us on Saturday 31st August for a Town Centre Takeover! packed with free performance and music, featuring stilt walkers, aerial demonstrations, Nairn Youth Theatre, Kinross Peace Choir, Mad Hatters of Moray, Clive Grewcock's Green Suitcase, ‘Walkaboot Bard’ Hamish MacDonald , street artist Fresh Paint, and other street performers and choirs.

The Highland Book Prize award ceremony, which launches the festival’s literary programme, will feature talks by shortlisted authors David Greig, Alan Warner, Kapka Kassabova, Sally Nugent and James Macdonald Lockhart.

Jackie Kay, former Scots Makar and one of the UKs most loved and lauded poets, will discuss her career and latest work at her festival talk, and will also visit the local secondary school, Nairn Academy.

Irvine Welsh will make his debut public appearance in Nairn, to talk about his extensive career as author, playwright, screenplay writer and director.

Sally Magnusson returns to the festival to discuss her latest novel, Music in the Dark- she will be interviewed by leading literary agent, Jenny Brown OBE.

James Crawford, author and presenter of BBC1 Scotland’s Scotland From The Sky, will talk about his recently-published book Wild History: Journeys into Lost Scotland.

Gerda Stevenson and Colin Bramwell will read from beyond - a posthumously published collection of poems by Aonghas MacNeacail. James Jauncey will speak about his biography Don Roberto: The Adventure of Being Cunninghame Graham – Jauncey’s great- great- uncle, a multi-faceted adventurer and campaigner for social justice. Scottish -Nigerian author Olukemi Ogunyemi, a fervent campaigner for racial equality, will discuss her memoir, Brown Girl in the Ring.

C. E. McGill, queer author of sci -fi fantasy and historical fiction will talk about their debut novel, Our Hideous Progeny, while authors Sean Lusk and Flora Fraser will be in conversation about their respective historical fiction novels A Woman of Opinion and Pretty Young Rebel.

Gaelic New Writers Award winner Shelagh Campbell will read from her first book Far Na Slighe in a Gaelic language event, while Gaelic authors Calum L MacLeòid and June Graham will visit local schools.

The popular Wine and Crime event returns with Claire Askew (The Dead Don’t Speak) and Margaret Kirk (In The Blood).

Annie Worsley, a writer, geographer and crofter who lives in the North West Highlands, will be discussing her debut novel, Windswept, and experienced climber Anna Fleming will explore her emotional and physical connection to the mountains, eloquently expressed in her book Time on Rock.

New writing in the region will be given a platform in a special event devised by Creative Writing students at University of the Highlands and Islands as part of an ongoing placement partnership with the festival.

Findlay Napier has been described as Micheal Marra meets Elvis Costello, a Caledonian Loudon Wainwright III or a Scottish James Taylor. In a night dedicated to some of the finest traditional music around, he will be supported by Iona Lane Duo. A singer, songwriter and storyteller, Iona is a rising star of the folk scene, having supported Karine Polwart on her UK tour in 2023. She will be accompanied by Cammy Maxwell on double bass.

Musicians from acclaimed Early Scots music ensemble Laudonia come to Nairn with The Thistle and the Rose- a stunning combination of world class soprano and lute.

Soprano Susanna MacRae and pianist Claire Habbershaw will present a fascinating night of music inspired by the writing of female authors from Jane Austen to Mary Wortley Montagu in Words of Women.

There will be a night for fans of Northern Soul, with DJs from Northern Soul Clubs in Aberdeen and Perth.

Photographer Marc Marnie displays just some of his huge archive of work featuring celebrated musicians photographed on stage and behind the scenes over three decades, including Muddy Waters, Bono, Joni Mitchell, James Brown, and Amy Winehouse. Marc will talk about his work in conversation with singer-songwriter Martin Stephenson at Nairn’s Little Theatre.

An Open Exhibition with the theme of ‘The Domestic and the Wild’ will showcase artwork by professional and amateur artists from across the North and North-East of Scotland and the Islands.

Finale Day: the festival will end with a day of free outdoor music and creative activity with Nature 4 Health and Naturally Useful, joined by environmental groups including Green Hive, the Scottish Dolphin Centre and Butterfly Conservation Group. The day kicks off with a fancy dress family parade ‘The Beasties and Butterflies Ball’ led by artist and storyteller Creeping Toad, with samba bands Guarana and The Penguins’ Tuxedo.

The festival also runs an outreach programme of events in local schools including author visits from Stuart Reid, Jackie Kay, June Graham, and Calum L MacLeòid, art workshops with Creeping Toad and Amy Neville, and music sessions with Alexandra Farquhar and Marine Sanchez.

The festival is very grateful to its brilliant funders and sponsors. Haventus has generously agreed to support the Festival for three years, creating some welcome security and the ability to forward plan. Tornagrain has also been a key supporter this year, and we are very grateful to receive public funding, with Creative Scotland and Event Scotland playing an essential part in ensuring we can continue to offer a fresh, creative programme of events, accessible to all.

In addition the festival receives essential funding from David Summers Trust, ENCOMM, Hugh Fraser Foundation, Conundrum Charitable Trust, Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust, The Davidson Trust, James T Howat Charitable Trust, and Art Society Highland.

Find out more and book your tickets to our fantastic events here.