Page last updated at 23:55 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 00:55 UK

Palin to star as festival opens

Michael Palin

Sell-out talks by Michael Palin, Rory Bremner and John Fortune are expected to be the highlights of the sixth Borders Book Festival.

Ticket sales for the four-day event are up 50% on last year, with organisers claiming it will be the biggest and best festival yet.

The winner of the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards will also be announced during the festival.

The festival is being held at Harmony House gardens in Melrose.

Events include BBC presenter James Naughtie discussing Barack Obama and mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington talking about his own life and achievements.

While the Family Book Festival will feature a host of top children's writers including Julia Donaldson on the 10th birthday of her creation The Gruffalo, and actors Bill Paterson and Diana Quick bringing old nursery stories to life.

Prizewinning authors James Kelman, Jackie Kay, and James Robertson - who will all also be reading Pooh in Scots at a special children's event - and Ian Rankin will also appear, along with musicians Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain.

Festival director Alistair Moffat said: "What's particularly striking is the range of tastes. People want to listen to authors right across the spectrum of literature, from childrens to history to travel writing and memoir.

"And good old-fashioned lectures seem to be in vogue again with Jim Naughtie's talk on Barack Obama and Ian Rankin's on Muriel Spark selling out within days."

The festival opens on Thursday and runs until Sunday.

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