Faclan illuminates The Darkest Dawn

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The Hebridean Book Festival, Faclan, returns to Lewis from October 31 to November 3, including the launch of The Darkest Dawn, a new book marking the 100th anniversary of the Iolaire tragedy, in which more than 200 men from Lewis and Harris lost their lives only a few metres from shore when the yacht carrying them home from the First World War was hit by a fierce storm.

The launch of The Darkest Dawn – the most definitive and comprehensive book to date about the tragedy – is one of a series of special events at An Lanntair throughout winter 2018 to mark the anniversary of an event that had a profound impact on the islands.

Faclan is one of the flagship cultural events at An Lanntair in Stornoway, and its uniquely dramatic location draws audiences and top-level authors from across the UK.

Faclan 2018 line-up of authors – many of them reflecting on this year’s festival theme of Fear – includes Peter May and Malcolm Mackay, both discussing Hebridean Noir; Sir Christopher Frayling on the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (following a screening of the classic 1931 film); Finlay Macleod on the true history of a semi-mythical 19th century bogeyman who stalked the moors of Lewis and Harris; and Louise Welsh, who will reflect on the role of fear in her work. In a very different approach to fear, Kathryn Mannix will explore the various taboos around death.

Other highlights include a Saturday night appearance by leading spoken word performer Hollie McNish, a screening of vampire classic Nosferatu with a live piano score by Peter Urpeth, a voyage into the underworld with composer Jessica Danz; and a tribute to the late Gaelic writer, playwright and storyteller Chrisella Ross.

In addition to the packed programme of author and musical events, there will be daytime film screenings throughout the festival, also focusing on the theme of Fear – Psycho, Village of the Damned, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Rosemary’s Baby, Schalcken the Painter, The Babadook, and classic ghost story Whistle and I’ll Come to You, which this year marks its 50th anniversary.

This year’s programme will also include a new Faclan Fringe – full details to be announced in the coming weeks – which is supported by LEADER funding and is part of a brand new programme of winter festivals that will continue at An Lanntair until July 2020. There will also be a programme of events for schools, Faclan Òga, running throughout the festival.