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The Independent Culture
It can hardly have escaped your attention that the place to be right now, books-wise, is north of the border. The Edinburgh Book Festival comes to an end on Monday, just as an even more alluring event hoves into view. The Atholl Festival ("A Jacobite Pageant") begins on Saturday 2 Sept, catering for the spiritual, physical and intellectual sides of its punters with a vigour few other culture-fests can match.

Festivities begin with a charity barbecue (burns night?) in Atholl Browse forecourt, Blair Atholl, on Fri 1. On Sat 2, Loudon's Regiment of Foot demonstrate their prowess with muskets, swords, cannon and "drown the witch" tests. There are ceilidhs, highland games, history walks, genealogy, concerts, pipes and dances, Jacobite songs, a street market, a flower festival, and oh, yes, some poetry readings, lectures and a book fair too. The literary lunch on Sun 10 features James Irving Robertson "who will share some of his experiences researching the acclaimed The Lady of Kynachan". On Tues 5 Robertson gives an illustrated talk on the Lady of Kynachan, and on Wed 6 Robertson leads a historic Jacobite tour round the sites that feature in his book The Lady of ... You get the picture.

John Kerr is even more industrious: the author of Queen Victoria's Scottish Diaries and Life in the Atholl Glens lectures on the old roads of Atholl (Tue 5), Old Atholl in Pictures (Fri 8), Blair Castle and its gardens (Sun 10), and sets off In Queen Victoria's Footprints (Thur 7). It all sounds fascinating, not least because it must be the only literary festival this year that doesn't feature Hanif Kureishi.

The Atholl Festival runs from 2-10 Sept. Details from Pitlochry Tourist Information, 22 Atholl Rd (01796 472215)