Edinburgh Book Festival set to open its doors

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The Independent Culture

Nearly 250,000 flock to Edinburgh's Charlotte Square Gardens for the annual International Book Festival, which together with six concurrent events in Edinburgh is said to make up the largest arts festival worldwide. The 2010 event runs from August 14 through 30, welcoming writers including Philip Pullman, Alexander McCall Smith, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Pullman is due to open the festival with a debate on his recent book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, while Booker Prize-winning author A. S. Byatt will appear on August 20 to discuss her new novel The Children's Book. Other big names among the 750 writers from 50 countries set to participate include Fay Weldon, Louis de Bernières, Alan Bissett, and UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

For those with only a few days to spare, the festival launches with an opening weekend intended to serve as a "mini-festival," according to children's program director Sara Grady. Author appearances fill those first few days, and events aim to encompass the many themes that will play out over the 18-day event.

In addition to daily debates, discussions, and new book presentations, the festival also features an array of children's events. The children's program launches August 14 with an event featuring Australian author Garth Nix ( The Keys to the Kingdom) and continues with appearances by Carol Ann Duffy, Meg Rosoff, Cornelia Funke, and many more.

Event prices range from free to around €15, and many events sell out in advance.