Announcing our 2024 programme: Future Tense

Announcing our 2024 programme: Future Tense

We’re delighted to announce Edinburgh International Book Festival’s 2024 programme with the theme Future Tense as we move into a new era and home at Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI). Taking place from 10-25 August, this year’s Book Festival is the first to unfold under the innovative Directorship of Jenny Niven in the state-of-the-art surrounds of what was Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary.  

Along with a change of location, the Festival has been refocused to put fresh perspectives, relevance, and active learning in the spotlight, with over 500 events that will empower audiences by bringing new and often opposing points of view together.  

In a present full of tensions and seemingly intractable issues, the Festival will create conversations aimed at finding new pathways to change. In ‘Future Tense’, across six elements, we explore how future-oriented thinking, learning across generations and disciplines, and approaching change with curiosity, compassion, and imagination, could help us untangle the huge systematic challenges we currently face, both as individuals and as a society. And in an age when transparency is key, the programme will tackle topics that directly impact the Festival, from ethical funding to sustainability, as well as topics that impact those living locally and those living in crisis, both at home and across the world. And at a time when so much information is gathered online and shared within the echo chambers of social media, this year’s programme offers audiences increased opportunity to engage and swap ideas and knowledge, in person, and interactively.  

Jenny Niven, Director at Edinburgh International Book Festival, said: “I am enormously proud of the programme we have created for this year, our first Festival in our new home at the Edinburgh Future’s Institute. 

Our programme Future Tense speaks to the complexity of the moment we're in, but hopefully also brings some optimism - the world is full of brilliant, insightful people working in so many imaginative ways. We're excited to showcase some of that incredible thinking and writing - and the ways people are working together to solve problems and keep learning. 

It’s been an honour to engage with authors, publicists, poets, performers, artists and audience members since I took on this role, and all of these conversations have informed what you will find on site this summer.”

FUTURE TENSE comprises six sub-themes, each exploring an aspect of how we can, or should, change our individual and collective futures. Alongside this overarching theme, other key themes include: How to Live a Meaningful Life, Voterama: Elections, Democracy and Geopolitics, Brilliant Fiction, and a special strand of events called Justified Sinner 200 to mark the 200th anniversary of James Hogg’s seminal work The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.

Find out about all our themes in detail: here.

Alan Bett, Head of Literature and Publishing at Creative Scotland said: “This year marks Edinburgh International Book Festival’s first year in their new home and the inaugural year under Director Jenny Niven. Welcoming in this new era, the festival has curated a bold and ambitious programme engaging many of the critical issues facing the world today. To do that, they are bringing together international authors with both Scotland's own world-renowned talent and our exciting emerging literary voices. The Futures Institute events will nurture a love of books and reading for all ages. Additionally, there are valuable programme strands highlighting the significance of community work, extending the festival’s influence beyond its new location.”

Our new site at EFI 

Opened in 1729 Edinburgh’s old Royal Infirmary is one of the city's most beloved buildings and with huge care, has been brought into the 21st century as Edinburgh Futures Institute, a futures-focused space for learning, research, and innovation at the University of Edinburgh, and new home of Edinburgh International Book Festival.  

In addition to enjoying events in brand new, state-of-the-art theatres, audiences and visitors can find a plethora of places to read, relax, meet and converse throughout this grand and iconic building, as well as across the specially designed, grassy courtyard that unfolds at the south of the venue, making the Festival site a destination worthy of lingering this summer. 

Located just off The Meadows in the leafy heart of the city, the Festival’s new home is a stone’s throw from key Fringe venues at George Square and the home of the Edinburgh International Festival at the Hub.  

Tickets go on sale online 20 June 2024 at

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