New religion and literature festival to be held in Edinburgh ahead of Christmas


Val McDermid will be attending the new Winter Tales Book Festival in Edinburgh next month.

James Robertson, Val McDermid, Robert Harris, Frances Spufford, Catherine Fox and Rachel Mann are among the authors lined up to participate in the Winter Tales Book Festival.

Over 25 events are scheduled for an in-person audience from December 3-5.

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Billed as “a festival of literature, religion and the imagination,” it was organized to coincide with the 175th anniversary of New College, the seat of the university’s school of theology, on The Mound.

Festival lineup also includes presenter Sally Magnusson, actor and comedian Miles Jupp, poet Christine De Luca, former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway and Kenyan-Scottish storyteller and performer Mara Menzies.

Highlights of the program include an exploration of William Shakespeare’s play The Winter’s Tale, a celebration of the late Orcadian writer George Mackay Brown 100 years after his birth, an event bringing stories and music from Jewish history to life Scottish, a look at the connections Christmas carols have to coded political messages, church disapproval, and pagan intrusions.

Special events will examine the “hostile environment” for refugees and whether there is anything the literary world and writers can do to make them more welcoming, the portrayal of the sea, science and religion in literature.

Presenter Cathy will interview scholar and commentator Mona Siddiqui, professor of Islamic and Interfaith Studies at the University of Edinburgh, about her career, the inspiration behind her writing and how her beliefs have shaped her job.

Francesca Barbini and Michelle Sloan will participate in two children’s events.

The festival will also feature a readings, Christmas carols and music service during which the Right Honorable Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, will preach.

An announcement about the festival states: “To celebrate 175 years of groundbreaking research in religion, spirituality and the arts, New College is delighted to host its first-ever literary festival.

“Join us to hear from a range of leading speakers and writers from the UK and beyond as we explore the relationship between creed and fiction, religion and pluralism, the complex web of religion, politics and environment, fantasy and spirituality, and much more.

“Discover the deep-rooted links between faith and historical fiction, and the darker side of religion and detective fiction.

“Understand why some prominent thinkers have completely rejected belief. And find out why Edinburgh as a place exerted such a fascination with literature.

“Built in 1846, our Category A listed buildings will provide a unique venue for literary events, Christmas carols, free pop-up shows and Christmas cheer on all levels.”

Alison Jack, Associate Director of New College, said: “The world of religion, beliefs and spirituality has not only provided the writers with some of their most memorable plots, but literature also confronts some of the ethical, cultural issues. and histories that shape our world.

“We are delighted to be able to launch this festival to celebrate and explore this influence, as well as Christmas-themed events and celebrations for the enjoyment of adults and children. “


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