Edinburgh International Book Festival 2020 cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic
- Deborah Chu
- 1 April 2020
The summer celebration of the written word will not be going ahead 'as a physical entity' due to concerns around COVID-19 outbreak
The Edinburgh International Book Festival has announced that it has cancelled its 2020 edition in light of the ongoing health and safety crisis posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was revealed alongside the city's other landmark August festivals, which draws in a total of 4.4 million visitors to the Scottish capital every summer, making the five festivals combined the second-largest cultural event in the world, just behind the Olympic Games.
The EIBF began life in 1983, and hosts literary luminaries from around the world in a celebration of creativity, writing and open debate. Previous names on the programme have included the likes of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Ali Smith, Val McDermid, Hanif Kureishi, Chelsea Clinton, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Teju Cole, Paul Auster, Jonathan Safran Foer and more. Though the EIBF will not be returning to Charlotte Square for 2020, organisers have suggested that the festival may still yet make its presence felt online, adapting – as we all have – to this unprecedented new reality we find ourselves in.
The loss of the August festivals is a significant blow to the city's cultural landscape, but this difficult decision was made in order to keep audiences, staff and organisers safe, due to the ongoing concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic has seen new social distancing and self-isolation measures implemented in countries around the world, as well as unprecedented travel restrictions.
Nick Barley, the Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, says, 'It is with great sadness that I can confirm that the Edinburgh International Book Festival will not take place as a physical entity in August of this year due to the risks surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, however the safety of not only our authors, our audiences, our staff and our suppliers, but also that of the people who live and work in our wonderful city, is of paramount importance and we believe that planning to bring large numbers of people from all over the world together in Edinburgh in August is not appropriate this year. We hope to be able to programme a series of online events to take place in the summer.
'We will be back! The Edinburgh International Book Festival is an integral part of the Scottish cultural offering, and we will return next year. We are already looking forward to authors and audiences coming together to celebrate the written word in 2021. In the meantime, please keep reading and please keep supporting your local independent bookshops, many of whom are offering a mail order or door drop delivery service.'