A feast of festivals for the region’s lovers of literature

Book lovers will have another busy year. Yvette Huddleston has a round-up of the region’s many literature festivals.

Margaret Atwood. PIC: Jean Malek
Margaret Atwood. PIC: Jean Malek

Yorkshire could be described as a bibliophile’s heaven, given the number of high quality literature festivals that are on offer in the region.

A few of them are clustered around September/October time – Ilkley, Beverley and Sheffield’s Off the Shelf tend to overlap – but there are plenty to keep literature lovers busy pretty much throughout the rest of the year.

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First up in March (5-15)is Huddersfield Literature Festival which supports and showcases both established and emerging writers with events for adults, children and readers’ groups.

Organised in association with the English department of the University of Huddersfield, the festival’s theme this year is “into the future” and previous participating authors include Joanne Harris, Lemn Sissay and Kate Adie.

Later in March (19-29)York Literature Festival returns for its eighth year. The festival includes author events, storytelling, theatre, workshops and cinema featuring authors of national standing as well as writers specifically with a York connection. Events take place at various locations around the ancient city including York Theatre Royal, York St John University, Waterstone’s, local pubs and cafes. There is usually a guided tour of York’s sites of literary significance.

Scarborough’s Books by the Beach will be taking place in April (15-19) and will be hoping to repeat last year’s exciting line-up of authors which included Margaret Drabble, Joanna Trollope and best-selling crime writer Jo Nesbo, as well as laying on quirky events such as a Gothic Dinner in the Town Hall, a Ghosts and Ghouls event in the Victorian prison.

In May, the University of Sheffield’s Lyric Festival, an annual celebration of the written and spoken word attracts some of the UK’s most respected writers, broadcasters, academics, and performers to the University, as well as showcasing the talent of students and staff.

Organised by the unversity’s Professor of Poetry, Simon Armitage, and senior lecturer in English, Joanna Gavins, previous festivals have included musical performances, poetry readings, discussions and talks by poets and performers such as Carol Ann Duffy, Jo Shapcott, Stuart Maconie and Jackie Kay.

In June (19-21) Bridlington Poetry Festival will return for its fifth year for three days of poetry readings, workshops, film screenings and other events beside the sea. Poets and performers from all over the country and beyond gather at Sewerby Hall, near Bridlington. Set on a cliff top location in 50 acres of landscaped gardens, it is a suitably lyrical and inspiring setting for a poetry festival. There have been appearances in previous years from acclaimed poets such as Ian Duhig, Don Paterson and Andrew McMillan.

The following month the very popular Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival takes place in Harrogate and attracts fans from far and wide. This year’s festival runs from July 16-19 – expect some of the biggest names in crime fiction to be on the programme.

Ilkley Literature Festival, the largest and most established in the county returns in October and with last year’s event attracting visitors from all over the country, this year’s promises to be another winner. World-class authors, broadcasters, poets and performers flock to the small spa town for the festival every year. This year’s coup was a visit from Canadian author Margaret Atwood – who rarely appears in the UK – and other headliners included Alan Johnson, Ken Livingstone, Clare Balding, Nick Davies, Jodi Picoult, Will Self and Simon Armitage.


* Headingley Literature Festival will return in March with this year’s theme ‘Something Else’ and the organisers are just finalising the programme. Visit their website for more details www.headingleylitfest.org.uk

* In June The Leeds Big Bookend will once again offer a range of literary events for both adults and children around central Leeds. Details of this year’s programme will appear on the festival website www.bigbookend.co.uk

* Wakefield Literature Festival in September focuses on the relationship between the written and spoken word, and the places writers live. The events also explore literature’s links to theatre, music and art too. For more information, visit www.wakefieldlitfest.org.uk