Literary festivals in the UK

There are now literary festivals throughout the year in the UK, and in most areas of the country. The largest ones include:

  • The FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, at the end of March
  • The Hay Festival, in late May
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival, in August
  • Cheltenham Festival of Literature, in mid October

In addition there are many festivals that concentrate on the work of a single writer, such as the Wordsworth Festival in January or the Dylan Thomas Festival in November.

There are also festivals celebrating a particular genre or type of writing, such as the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival or the Clerkenwell experimental writing festival (both in July).

Below is a selected list of literature festivals in the UK, together with links for further details.

We also list a number of other festivals that may be of interest for combining with a literary tour. These include The Chelsea Flower Show and The Grosvenor House Art and Antiques Fair. For further information or help with any arrangements, please contact us

JANUARY

Wordsworth Trust - Weekend Arts and Book Festival
A residential course of lectures, surgeries and workshops at the Thistle Hotel in Grasmere
http://www.wordsworth.org.uk

FEBRUARY

LSE Literary Festival
LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival, in partnership with the Times Literary Supplement. Takes place on the LSE Campus in London. All events are free (!), but you need to book. More info: LSE Space for Thought Festival

MARCH

Words by the Water
At the Theatre by the Lake, Keswick. The north-west of England's premier festival of words and ideas.
Info and Booking: Words by the Water

Write by the Beach
At Angel House, Brighton. From inspiration to publication: a one-day event designed by writers for writers at all levels. A full day of insider sessions will cover: plot, screenwriting, characters, crime fiction, editing, pitching, how to get published and much more.
Info and Booking: http://www.beachhutwritingacademy.com/

Essex Book Festival
Comprising 60+ events in over 30 venues across the county, including theatres, libraries, schools, universities, through to cafes, art galleries.
http://www.essexbookfestival.org.uk/

Suffolk Libraries Bookfest
Launched in 2015. See www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/bookfest for details.

Chagword Literary Festival
Dartmoor's literary festival. See www.chagword.com for details.

Aldeburgh Literary Festival
see www.aldeburghbookshop.co.uk.

Oswestry Litfest
Celebrates words written, spoken and sung. See www.oswestrylifest.co.uk

Oundle Festival of Literature
Events are now spread out over the year as opposed to one weekend, but children's literature events are focused on one week in March. See more at www.oundlelitfest.org.uk.

North London Literary Festival
New annual festival held at Middlesex University in Hendon
www.northlondonlitfest.com / facebook.com/nllf13

King's Sutton Literary Festival
A weekend festival in this charming village close to Banbury, Oxfordshire
www.kslitfest.co.uk

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival
Attracts a wide range of major writers to speak and read from their work, as well as a creative writing workshop.
http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/

APRIL

The FT Oxford Literary Festival
The Festival presents over 200 authors, covering all areas of writing, plus events for children.
http://www.sundaytimes-oxfordliteraryfestival.co.uk

Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry
Trinity College, Cambridge. Takes place each year towards the end of April http://www.cccp-online.org.uk

Cambridge Wordfest
The Festival presents a wide variety of writers over three days in Cambridge towards the end of April each year.
http://www.cambridgewordfest.co.uk/

Stratford Upon Avon Literary Festival
The Stratford upon Avon Literary Festival takes place at the end of April/beginning of May. The festival programme includes author events, workshops, performance poetry and lively panel discussions.
www.stratfordliteraryfestival.co.uk

Books By The Beach Scarborough Festival
Be inspired and entertained by a rich and varied programme. There is something for everyone at Books by the Beach: Scarborough Book Festival
Contact details:- website: www.booksbythebeach.co.uk

Colonsay Book Festival
On the beautiful island of Colonsay.
http://www.colonsaybookfestival.org.uk/

Wise Words Festival, Canterbury
9 days of thought provoking talks, walks, performances, workshops, music and poetry, taking place in the Secret Garden in Canterbury.
More info at Wise Words Festival

MAY

The Charleston Festival
A literary festival at Charleston, country home of Bloomsbury artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell
http://www.charleston.org.uk

Fowey Festival of Words and Music
Fowey, Cornwall
http://www.foweyfestival.com/

The Independent Bath Literature Festival
A programme featuring over 100 different literary events, from debates and lectures to readers' groups, workshops and films in venues throughout the city.

Lincoln Book Festival
http://www.thisislincolnshire.co.uk/bookfestival

HowTheLightGetsIn Festival
The world's biggest philosophy and music festival returns, bringing its signature blend of debates, talks, comedy and performance. Festival-goers will meet the planet's greatest thinkers, from philosophers to Nobel prize winners, from the most perceptive novelists to the most incisive columnists.

This year's theme is 'Darkness, Authority and Dreams', exploring the threats to society looming on the horizon. Speakers announced so far include Noam Chomsky, Sophie Fiennes, Polly Toynbee, David Nutt.

Takes place at Hay, 25th - 28th May 2018. More info and, for a limited time, early bird tickets available from https:/hay.htlgi.iai.tv

The Boswell Festival
The world's only biography festival, named after that magnificent rogue James Boswell, takes place at Auchinleck House, his ancient seat in Ayrshire. http://www.boswellbookfestival.co.uk

University of Warwick Book Festival
This up-and-coming festival. Takes place at the University of Warwick Arts Centre
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/ias/bookfestival/

The Hay Festival
One of the largest and most famous literary festivals in the UK, in the ‘Book’ town of Hay-on-Wye.
http://www.hayfestival.co.uk

Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival
Includes readings, workshops, talks, film, music, theatre, exhibition and even a 'poetry walk'.  www.bodminmoorpoetryfestival.co.uk

JUNE

Word – University of Aberdeen Writers Festival
http://www.abdn.ac.uk/word

Swaledale Festival
http://www.swaledale-festival.org.uk

Wealdon Literary Festival
The brainchild of outdoor and sustainable environment enthusiasts Laura and Andrew Willan, the festival includes writers, environmentalists, makers, and nature activities.
Info & tickets: www.wealdenliteraryfestival.co.uk

Grassington Festival
A general arts and music festival with some literary events
http://www.grassington-festival.org.uk

FLY
University of East Anglia's Festival of Literature for Young People, aiming to inspire young people to read for pleasure, develop a love of books, and to discover the power of writing. See https://www.uea.ac.uk/fly/home

Worcestershire Literary Festival
An array of spoken word events, seminars, theatre performances, and more, to inspire, entertain, and educate.
See the programme at http://www.worcslitfest.com

Chalke Valley History Festival
Growing history festival, now sponsored by the Daily Mail
See the programme at http://www.cvhf.org.uk 

JULY

TS Eliot Festival
In the grounds of Little Gidding, which inspired Eliot's final Quartet. Organised by the Eliot Society and featuring a range of events including discussion of the Four Quartets.
Details and booking: www.eliotsociety.org.uk/festival-2016/ 

Buxton Festival
Early July. A festival of opera, music and literature
www.buxtonfestival.co.uk

Dartington Hall Festival - Ways With Words
A ten-day literary festival set in the medieval courtyard at Dartington Hall, Devon
www.wayswithwords.co.uk

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival
Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate
Presents many leading UK and international writers of crime fiction
http://www.harrogate-festival.org.uk/crime

The Ledbury Poetry Festival
www.poetry-festival.co.uk

Indie Lit Festival
Events bringing together indie authors from around the UK. Includes talks, workshops and readings.
More info: http://www.ukindielitfest.co.uk/

John Clare Festival
The John Clare School, Helpston nr Peterborough
The festival is a celebration of the life and works of John Clare
http://vzone.virgin.net/linda.curry/jclaresociety.htm

Stratford-on-Avon Poetry Festival
http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/content/view/414/414/

AUGUST

Happy Days Festival

Samuel Beckett Festival in Fermanagh, with wide-ranging Beckett related line-up of events, often including readings on the Island of Devenish.
http://www.happy-days-enniskillen.com/

Edinburgh International Book Festival
A host of literary events in the beautiful Charlotte Square Gardens in central Edinburgh, featuring leading Scottish and international authors. The varied programme covers poets, politicians, historians, journalists and children's authors, and Unbound, a free cabaret-style evening event ensures that the literary fun runs far into the night.
http://www.edbookfest.co.uk

Llangwm Literary Festival
Pembroke's newest literary festival, takes place in the village of Llangwm. Details: www.llangwmlitfest.co.uk

NiddFestival
Takes place in Pateley Bridge, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire.
Ongoing festival celebrating the link between nature and writing. For details see www.niddfest.com 

SEPTEMBER

Chatsworth Festival
A festival of talks by artists, curators and writers.  Details at Chatsworth Festival

Festival of Writing in York
This festival is for writers of novels and non-fiction to meet with publishing professionals, literary agents and book doctors in prep for eventual publication. Normally gathers 300+ writers from across the country and abroad.
http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/FestivalofWriting2015.html

Borderlines Carlisle Book Festival
Interesting mix of events including a crime writing workshop and talks and readings by a wide range of writers
www.borderlinescarlisle.co.uk

Bristol Poetry Festival
Vibrant celebration of poetry
http://www.poetrycan.co.uk

Graham Greene Festival
http://www.grahamgreenebt.org

Soho Literary Festival
http://soholitfest.com/

Chiswick Book Festival
http://www.chiswickbookfestival.org

Wigtown Festival
Scotland's national book town
http://www.wigtownbookfestival.com/index.asp

Bournemouth Literary Festival
A world or words in Bournemouth
http://www.bournemouthliteraryfestival.co.uk

Henley Literary Festival
http://www.henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk

Everybody's Reading
Festival of reading in Leicester, taking place in a wide range of events in city centre venues including author readings, urban poets, bands and comedians.
http://www.everybodysreading.org.uk

OCTOBER

Cheltenham Festival of Literature
A long-established literary festival with upwards of 400 speakers
http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.co.uk

Manchester Literature Festival
Runs through October and November and presents a wide array of events
http://www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk

Cliveden Literary Festival
at Cliveden House, the stately home in Berkshire. 14 and 15 October 2017. Speakers include Robert Harris, Tina Brown, Sebastian Faulks, Amanda Foreman, Ruth Rogers, Howard Jacobson, Antonia Fraser, Ian McEwan, Michael Gove and many more.
More information and tickets: http://clivedenliteraryfestival.org

London Literary Footprints Festival
A series of 50 walks and talks celebrating London books and authors, including readings of books at the locations they were set in, authors speaking at London locations and walks on literary themes.
http://footprintsoflondon.com/literaryfestival

Lanark Book Festival
This festival features a host of well-known Scottish authors. From Scottish Fiction and History, to Whisky, Food and Drink – sessions for everyone to enjoy.
http://www.newlanark.org/visitorcentre/2015-book-festival.shtml

Loogabarooga Festival of Illustrated Children's Literature 
in Loughborough 18-24 October 2017
With Waterstones Children's Laureate, Lauren Child on the Wednesday with Charlie and Lola parties and many more fun events on this and following days. www.loogabarooga.com

Frinton Literary Festival
http://www.frintonliteraryfestival.co.uk

Beverley Literature Festival
Offering a programme featuring over 40 contemporary writing events. Information at: http://www.bevlit.org

Guildford Book Festival
A wide-ranging festival featuring a broad range of fiction writers, journalists, biographers and personalities
http://www.guildfordbookfestival.co.uk

Burnham Market Book Festival
http://www.whitehousebooks.co.uk

Wimbledon Book Festival
A festival in early October which offers a diverse range of readings and book events at a selection of venues in Wimbledon
http://www.wimbledonbookfest.org

Wirral Bookfest
http://www.wirral.gov.uk/bookfest

Inverness Book Festival
http://www.eden-court.co.uk/programme/59/inverness-book-festival.html

Gwyl Daniel Owen Festival
Mold Yr Wyddgrug
Includes readings, walks, music and writing competition.
http://www.danielowenfestival.com

Peak Literary Festival
Held annually in the spring and autumn (May and October/November) in the Peak District National Park
http://www.countrybookshop.co.uk/peakfestival

Dylan Thomas Festival
At The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea. 
http://www.dylanthomas.com/festival/

NOVEMBER

DIVA Literary festival
The inaugural DIVA Literary Festival and Awards are taking place at the Hilton Metropole, NEC Birmingham on 3-5 November 2017.
Programme aims to reflect the diversity of the LGBT community, providing a platform for the voices and experiences of queer people. Authors include Val McDermid, Stella Duffy, Kiki Archer, VG Lee, Mari Hannah, Clare Ashton, Veronica Fearon, Lucy Sutcliffe, Karen McLeod and many more.
More info & Booking: www.divaliteraryfestival.com

Aldeburgh International Poetry Festival
www.thepoetrytrust.org

Bridport Literary Festival
At venues all around town. More information at www.bridlit.com

Petworth Literary Festival Weekend
Always an interesting and varied line up: http://www.petworthfestival.org.uk

Literary Leicester
Includes a wide range of exciting and stimulating sessions, all completely free!
www.le.ac.uk/literaryleicester

Hampstead Arts Festival
http://www.hampsteadartsfestival.com/

London History Festival
www.londonhistoryfestival.com

Richmond Upon Thames Literature Festival
Runs through November. 
http://www.richmonditerature.com

Cambridge Winter Literary Festival
More details: http://www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com/

Southwold Literature Festival
Part of the Ways with Words series of literature festivals, held in the seaside resort of Southwold, Suffolk
http://www.wayswithwords.co.uk

Other Festivals of Interest

RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London in May
A showcase for the world’s most talented garden designers
http://www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea/2007/index.asp

The Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair
Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London in June
Features over 90 of the world’s leading dealers
http://www.grosvenorfair.co.uk

LAPADA Antiques And Fine Art Fairs
May: LAPADA@TheRoyalAcademy, 6 Burlington Gardens
http://www.lapada.co.uk

Please note: Every effort has been made to ensure information is correct at time of posting, but if you are making your own arrangements to attend please check dates and programme details beforehand with the festival concerned.

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