The 2017 Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival broke all sorts of records. Not only did the event attract almost 31,000 visitors, it contributed enormously to the local economy. In only four days, the festival brought in around £2.3m to the Borders. This was a spectacular increase of 29.5% on 2016.
Alistair Moffat, director and founder, said
“From very small beginnings in Melrose, thirteen years ago, when just under 300 people came to four events, the festival has blossomed. It clearly injects a massive amount of economic activity into the Borders and that is good for jobs and businesses. But just as important, it also enriches our lives beyond anything I could have imagined. It sprinkles stardust on us all. John Cleese, Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley and many other international stars have joined writers of unrivalled brilliance such as Hilary Mantel, Melvyn Bragg and Frederick Forsyth.”
Director, Paula Ogilvie, added:
“The festival embraces all sorts of groups and interests. Our offering has been deliberately diverse from the very beginning with artists such as Evelyn Glennie, politicians like Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg alongside the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. In addition we organise a Family Book Festival, a Schools Gala Day, free outdoor family entertainment, a street market for local producers and a food and drink village. There is something for everyone. We were also able to welcome even more visitors this year, with increased venue sizes, a great range of food and drink offerings and many people taking advantage of the glorious weekend sunshine to relax and enjoy the festival buzz.”
The festival also works together with a wide range of partners and sponsors. Next to the financial support from the Scottish Borders Council, Creative Scotland, Arts & Business Scotland and EventScotland it attracted a great portfolio of supporters from the private sector like the new title sponsor Baillie Gifford, as well as The Times Scotland, Brewin Dolphin, Davidson Chalmers and Adam Bank. A new partnership with the National Trust for Scotland, which owns Harmony Garden and House, has further helped to widen the festival’s appeal across Scotland.
Almost 90% of this year’s visitors rated their festival experience as excellent or very good. More than 32% of the festival’s 2017 visitors come from outside the Scottish Borders, a percentage that has significantly increased in the last years. A joint media call with Network Rail and the Borders Railway at Waverley Station in May and an additional press launch in Edinburgh in April have helped the Borders Book Festival not only to attract additional visitors, but also to set an example in good partnership work with other organisations to strengthen the tourism offer in the Borders. For 24% of visitors the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival was the only or main reason to visit the Scottish Borders.
With recall rates above 80% for its main sponsors the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival is looking to further strengthen its portfolio of partners in 2018. It recently released a new sponsorship video to creatively use social media to attract new partners, which can be watched here: