Enjoy Edinburgh International Book Festival from your own home

Discussions, shared stories and breaking bread together

A spotlight on three Citizen events in this year’s August programme, which aim to help us understand the meaning of community in the time of COVID-19.

A hands-on creative Citizen workshop

The time has nearly come for the Festival’s online events extravaganza. This year, we aren’t based in Charlotte Square. While we will miss the atmosphere, the hours browsing in the bookshop and the friendly Front of House team, we are so excited that you can experience events with authors online, from the comfort of your own home.

There are over 140 events: from poetry to panel discussions, from illustrated children’s events to crime writing, featuring prize-winning writers from all over the world. Here, we’d like to shine a spotlight on three events which are all part of Citizen, our long-term creative programme working in partnership with organisations in Edinburgh and Musselburgh.

Tuesday 25 August, 10-11am

Iain MacRitchie & Rich Thanki: Healing the Digital Divide

Every day, the internet provides us with services, resources and networks to connect us to each other, but what about those who can’t get online? A shocking 41% of the world’s population do not have the tools to access the internet, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a huge digital divide.

In this topical event, Rich Thanki, who co-founded Jangala, the organisation that set up WiFi for the refugees in the ‘Calais Jungle,’ joins Iain MacRitchie, CEO of MCR Pathways, who provided 300 laptops for digitally excluded young people across Scotland. They talk to Marjorie Lotfi Gill, Co-Founder and Development Director of Open Book, an organisation that connects communities through a shared love of reading.

Wednesday 26 August, 2.30-3.30pm

Jo Hunter & John Loughton: Power to the People

The global pandemic, lockdown and social distancing have changed our lives in ways completely unimaginable at the start of 2020. The impact has been felt in businesses and charities alike. In this inspiring event, we hear from Jo Hunter, who established 64 Million Artists, and John Loughton, founder of Scran Academy. Both are community activists who have been busy adapting the organisations they lead, to ensure they could support and serve their communities during the Coronavirus crisis.

Drawing from their personal stories, they talk about empowerment and what community means in a post-COVID-19 world.

A banner that reads 'creativity is our superpower'

Thursday 27 August, 7-8pm

Stories & Scran

Join us for an evening of food and entertainment, hosted by our Citizen Writers in Residence Eleanor Thom and Leyla Josephine. With live readings, audio recordings and a film created by Citizen participants, our community meal will showcase the insightful and thoughtful work of local people from North Edinburgh and Musselburgh.

Our Community partners Scran Academy will cook and deliver a free meal to those joining the event within an Edinburgh or Musselburgh postcode (with priority given to our Citizen participants). Alternatively, we can provide you with an ingredients list and recipe card, so that you can recreate the meal at home to eat with us during the event.

To book a free meal (numbers limited, so don’t miss out!) or receive an ingredients list and recipe card contact us on citizen@edbookfest.co.uk

This event is supported by the Open University in Scotland

Community meal at North Edinburgh Arts

How do I sign up for events?

To sign up to these three, or any of our events, follow the instructions below:

1. Browse the events here. You can search for events by name (e.g. Stories and Scran) or search for a particular author, participant or date.

2. Click on the ‘save my place’ button and sign in to receive email reminders and a direct link to the event stream just before it starts

3. Alternatively, simply go to the event page on the day and click the ‘go to video player’ button

4. Once you’re in the event, you can use the chat function. If the event is live, you can ask questions using the Q&A box.

We hope that you’ll join us for these events and explore the many other talks and discussions that you can find on our website. If you are busy on the day of the event, you can tune in at any time afterwards, by exploring our YouTube channel.


Citizen is part of Edinburgh International Book Festival On The Road. It is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and through the PLACE Programme (funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland).

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