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 Sunday Times 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 (copy and paste into your browser).

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

23 Feb - 28 Feb 2015

The Seventh LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival features over 35 different events with more than 70 speakers including: Ian Bostridge, David Crystal, Anne Fine, John Gray, Tom Holland, Andrew O’Hagan, Will Self, Elif Sharak, Raja Shehadeh, Owen Sheers, and Ali Smith. 

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

The Independent Bath Literature Festival

27 Feb - 8 March 2015. A programme featuring over 100 different literary events, from debates and lectures to readers' groups, workshops and films in venues throughout the city.

http://bathfestivals.org.uk/literature

Words by the Water

4-13 March 2016. At the Theatre by the Lake, Keswick. The north-west of England's premier festival of words and ideas, in 2016 featuring amongst many others James Naughtie, Howard Jacobson, Richard Dawkins, Melvyn Bragg and James Rebank

Info and Booking: Words by the Water

Write by the Beach

12 March 2016. 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, and excitingly for 2015, the train on Southend Pier! 2015 authors include Shami Chakrabarti, Alistair Carr, Dame Stella Rimington, John Hegley, SJ Watson, Rachel Lichtenstein, Jessie Burton and many more.

http://www.essexbookfestival.org.uk/

Suffolk Libraries Bookfest

6 - 22 March 2015. A NEW festival, launching in 2015. Includes Alison Weir and Kate Williams, Luke Wright, Kate Hamer and many more. See www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/bookfest for details.

Chagword Literary Festival

13 - 15 March 2015. Dartmoor's literary festival in 2015 includes Deborah Moggach, Andy Mulligan, Sandra Greaves and Blake Morrison. Also a poetry competition. See www.chagword.com for details.

Aldeburgh Literary Festival

5 - 8 March 2015. Including Helen Macdonald on H is for Hawk, Kate Mosse, A N Wilson, Adam Crick. see www.aldeburghbookshop.co.uk.

Oswestry Litfest

13 March - 8 April 2015. This, the sixth Oswestry Literary Festival, celebrates words written, spoken and sung and features, amongst others, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, Alastair Campbell, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Dame Stephanie Shirley and crime novelist Sophie Hannah.

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

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

The Greatest Adventure: Love in the Time of Tinder
29-30th April 2017. Brought to you by the organisers of HowTheLightGetsIn, the world's biggest philosophy and music festival, this weekend philosophy retreat in Hay-on-Wye will feature a stellar lineup of philosophers, psychologists, scientists and authors. Featuring debates, talks and workshops, this event seeks to revive serious discussion on the philosophy of love and redefine romance for the digital age.

https://events.iai.tv/life/the-greatest-adventure

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.

30th April - 8th May 2016. 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/

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

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

HowTheLightGetsIn
The world's biggest philosophy and music festival, with over 700 events planned for 2016, including 'Dreaming the Future' on Saturday 28th May with Natalie Bennett, Maajid Nawaz, Roger Scruton, hosted by Mary Ann Sieghart.

This year's theme is 'The Known, the Strange and the New', looking for the strange in search of the new. Takes place at Hay, 26th May - 5th June 2016. More info and tickets at https:/howthelightgetsin.iai.tv

Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival
2015 festival includes readings, workshops, talks, film, music, theatre, exhibition and even a 'poetry walk'. The line up includes Eliot winners David Harsent and Sinead Morrissey, plus Matthew Sweeney, Matthew Francis and Carrie Etter.

29 - 31 May   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 first Wealden Literary Festival – a two-day event celebrating landscape, nature and place -- is to be held on June 18 and 19 2016 in the heart of the Garden of England at Boldshaves, Woodchurch.  The brainchild of outdoor and sustainable environment enthusiasts Laura and Andrew Willan, the festival includes talks by Thomas Pakenham, Patrick Barkham, Miriam Darlington, Esther Woolfson and Adam Thorpe.

Info & tickets: www.wealdenliteraryfestival.co.uk

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

Althorp Literary Festival
The Althorp Literary Festival takes place over a weekend in early June. See: http://www.spencerofalthorp.com/literary-festival

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. 

In 2016 features David Almond, Chris Riddell, Celia Rees and Alexander Gordon Smith amongst many others

 20th-24th June 2016. 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

9th & 10th July 2016 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 and, on the Sunday, a special reading of Little Gidding.

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

23 July 2016. Free event bringing together indie authors from around the UK. Includes talks, workshops and readings. At St James Hall, Bradford.

More info: ukindielitfest2016.wix.com/indiefest


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
13-29 August 2016: 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, taking place in the village of Llangwm, 12-14 August 2016. Amongst varied events and workshops, writers appearing include Griff Rhys Jones, Ben Rawlence, Diana Darke, Jo Mazelis and Ferdinand Mount. 

Details: www.llangwmlitfest.co.uk

NiddFestival

5-7 August 2016 in Pateley Bridge, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire.

Europe's first ongoing festival celebrating the link between nature and writing. NiddFest features talks by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, John Lewis Stempel (author of Meadowland), BBC gardening presenter Christine Walkden and music from Mercury-nominated singer Kathryn Williams, amongst many other events.

For details see www.niddfest.com 

SEPTEMBER

Chatsworth Festival

23-25 September 2016. Chatsworth - Art Out Loud, in its second year, is a festival of talks by artists, curators and writers.  Brilliant ceramicist and author, Edmund de Waal; Julia Peyton-Jones (The Serpentine Galleries); Maria Balshaw (The Whitworth Gallery); Peter Frankopan (author); garden designer, Dan Pearson and the Duke of Devonshire are included in the line-up of over 20 speakers.

Details at Chatsworth Festival

Festival of Writing in York

Now in its sixth year, 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

Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival

Festival in the home of `London lit

www.hamhighlitfest.com

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

Tears in the Fence Poetry Festival
Poetry festival of the long running poetry magazine 'Tears in the Fence'. This festival revives the spirit of the Wessex Poetry Festival and features readings, talks and music.

Takes place in Dorset, this year (2015) over the weekend of 23-25 October. 

www.tearsinthefence.com/festival


Manchester Literature Festival
Runs through October and November and presents a wide array of events

http://www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk

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
1 - 4 October 2015 This festival features a host of well-known Scottish authors, including Alistair Moffat and Christopher Brookmyre. From Scottish Fiction and History, to Whisky, Food and Drink – there will be a session for everyone to enjoy.

http://www.newlanark.org/visitorcentre/2015-book-festival.shtml

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
27th October - 9th November at The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea. 
http://www.dylanthomas.com/festival/

NOVEMBER

Aldeburgh International Poetry Festival

www.thepoetrytrust.org

Bridport Literary Festival
8th - 15th November 2015
At venues all around town. 2015 Line up to be announced. More information at www.bridlit.com

Petworth Literary Festival Weekend

Line up includes: Andy McNab, David Starkey, AN Wilson, Alan Johnson, Terry Waite, Lauren Child, Jane Hawking, Irma Kurtz, Simon Cooper, Peter Hennessy, Christian Hill, Michael Billington and John Suchet. Also a special spoken performance by Ruth Rosen and Tobias Churton to celebrate the work of William Blake. 

http://www.petworthfestival.org.uk

Literary Leicester

11th - 14th November 2015

Includes a wide range of exciting and stimulating sessions, with writers include Louis de Bernieres, Bruce Robinson and Linton Kwesi Johnson. 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. Highlights in 2014 include Sheila Hancock, journalist Peter Snow, Dr Irving Finkel and British designer Emma Bridgewater. 
http://www.richmonditerature.com

Cambridge Winter Literary Festival
30th November 2014. More details:
http://www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com/

Southwold Literature Festival
6 - 10 November 2014. 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
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
TBA
Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London
June
Features over 90 of the world’s leading dealers
http://www.grosvenorfair.co.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=19&tabindex=18

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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