Media release: Boswell Book Festival at its best

AMS Judi Dench

I had no idea how wonderful it would be!,” said TV’s Gogglebox star and festival author, Mary Killen, who perfectly captured the mood of this year’s Boswell Book Festival at Dumfries House, attended by a record number of over 8,000 visitors; by far the busiest festival ever.

What is more the audience of Dame Judi Dench’s Opening Night performance was treated to the unexpected arrival of a new festival visitor, HRH The Prince of Wales, Duke of Rothesay.

As in Mary Killen’s case, the expectations of regular and first time visitors to this year’s unique Festival were clearly surpassed. And it was easy to see why.

Basking in glorious sunshine, stunning Dumfries House surrounded by dancing daffodils and flowering cherry blossom created the backdrop every festival director dreams of.

Festival director, Caroline Knox, said: “This year, we managed to persuade a truly marvellous line-up of authors to travel to Ayrshire and to share their biographies, their autobiographies and memoirs – each revealing the complexity, the challenges and the joys of life. There were so many highlights that it’s impossible to pick out even one or two.

“For me, however, the real highlight is joining talks and sensing the engagement of the audience with the speaker with stories as far apart as the Suffragettes, the Syrians and the sitting rooms of Gogglebox.

“But totally unforgettable was Dame Judi Dench. It was magic for all of us who suddenly found ourselves treated to an intimate conversation with her.”

Festival facts:

Ticket sales

Many events sold out with a 33 per cent increase on last year.

The festival also had a new Baillie Gifford marquee seating 300


The festival campus included two new venues – the Baillie Gifford marquee at the main festival and the ‘Bozzy marquee at the children’s festival seating an extra 360 seats between them.

Children’s Events: Attendance of children’s events and activities were substantially up on last year, consisting of:

  • A Schools’ Day for 15 local Primary and Secondary Schools at Dumfries House on Friday (403 pupils)
  • The Children’s Festival staged over the weekend at the Dumfries House Engineering Centre, seating 150 plus the new ‘Bozzy’ Marquee seating 60
  • An outreach programme of author visits to four local primary schools in the week of the festival

Book sales

The Ayr branch of Waterstones which promoted the Festival heavily in the weeks beforehand and acted as our High Street box office saw turnover in the festival on-site book shop increase by one third

Dumfries House – Ayrshire

Head of Hospitality and Events, at Dumfries House, Louis MacCallum, said: “This was by far the busiest Boswell Book Festival we’ve ever had and also the busiest event we’ve ever held at Dumfries House. We managed to coordinate at least 800 queuing people between each talk, filing their way through reception into various corridors bound for their chosen events.

“Our Woodlands Restaurant reported a 50 per cent uptake in business over the weekend. It was terrific for the Boswell Book Festival, for Dumfries House, as well as for Cumnock and Ayrshire as a whole.”

Local accommodation

Cumnock’s Dumfries Arms Hotel was full to capacity all weekend, referring the many overflow customers to Auchinleck’s Railway Hotel who enjoyed a 75 per cent increase in bookings over the festival period.

From all perspectives, it seems that once again, Gogglebox’s Mary Killen summed up the entire weekend – perfectly:

“From my point of view the only bad thing about the Boswell Book Festival was the leaving of it! Also that it sets the bar too high for rivals. I can’t congratulate you enough.

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For more information or photographs

Carol Carr PR

for Boswell Book Festival

T: 01988 700 974

M: 07766 754 877



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