13 literature festivals to try this Autumn
Manchester lit fest

Summer may not be over just yet but as Autumn arrives it’s time to select your fireside reading, and where better than at a literature festival?

Pippa Day looks at 13 page-turning events coming to a town near you.

Got a passion for graphic novels? Try our guide to 12 of the best comic book events coming soon

Bristol Poetry Festival

mir mahfuz ali
Poets set to appear at this year’s festival include Fleur Adcock, Robert Minhinnick, Alyson Hallett and Mir Mahfuz Ali (pictured above). There’s also the Bristol Poetry Festival Slam if you can’t decide on just one event to attend or want to see a more varied performance.

10 – 21 Sep, Bristol; website

The Festival of Writing

The name of this festival speaks for itself. Aimed squarely at those who write themselves, it offers three days of workshops, talks and conferences. This is the perfect opportunity to network with agents, editors and fellow scribes over a weekend. Held at the University of York, single day or full weekend booking options are available.

12 – 14 Sep, York – website

Wakefield Lit Fest

Wakefield Lit Fest

With ‘Everyone Has a Story’ as the theme for the festival, the third Wakefield Lit Fest has more than 60 events on this year featuring well known authors and poets including Simon Armitage, Christina James and Ian Clayton. With so many book lovers in one place, the festival also holds a Big Book Swap Shop where you can swap your favourite books with the favourites of fellow festival attendees.

18 – 30 Sep, Wakefield – website

Bloody Scotland

Ian Rankin

Bloody Scotland, the darkest sounding event on our list, celebrates crime writing with big names such as Ian Rankin (above) due to appear in the days just after the independence referendum. An exciting theatre event, Peter Manuel: The Beast of Birkenshaw, will take place during the festival for those who don’t just want to read courtroom drama, but live it. This will be held in Stirling’s Sheriff Court with actors as the judge, witness and barrister and the audience playing the jury.

19 – 21 Sep, Stirling – website

Lincoln Book Festival

This festival focuses on history, from the civil war to the 21st century. With themed evenings including ‘The King and Parliament’ and ‘Swinging Sixties’, tickets can be bought for single events, single nights or the entire festival. The festival is held in The Collection, and the combination of archaeology museum and art gallery makes a fitting location.

29 Sep – 4 Oct, Lincoln – website

Birmingham Literature Festival

[Patience Agbabi will take part in a Chaucer night]

Workshops and talks from popular writers aren’t all that this lit fest has to offer. BBC Radio 4 will be recording With Great Pleasure at the festival with guest Jonathan Coe and the eagerly anticipated 2014 Man Booker Prize Shortlist Event will take place on October 8.

2 – 11 Oct, Birmingham – website

Wimbledon BookFest

With well known names including Ian McEwan and Clare Balding speaking at this festival, it may come as a surprise that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are children’s events such as The Wombles Storytelling and Sing-a-long as well as a Literary Pub Quiz for ‘book boffins’.

3 – 11 Oct, Wimbledon – website

Cheltenham Literature Festival

Judy Dench
[Dame Judi Dench – picture: Getty]

One of a series of Cheltenham festivals held in October, the Cheltenham Literature Festival is host to the biggest names: Nick Hornby, Caitlin Moran, Dame Judi Dench, David Mitchell, Michael Morpurgo, Kazuo Ishiguro and many more. There are ten days of events to fill up the calendar, but first dibs go to members, so sign up fast.

3 – 12 Oct, Cheltenham – website

Ilkley Literature Festival


With lots of children’s events running alongside the main workshops and talks, such as appearances from Lauren Child and Michael Morpurgo, and children’s reading and writing groups, the whole family can share their passion for literature at this local festival. There’s also a bundle of free fringe events to enjoy.

3 – 19 Oct, Ilkley – website

Durham Book Festival

One of three festivals that are part of the local County Council’s Gala Durham Festival Hub (which also includes Brass: Durham International Festival and Lumiere, the biennial festival of light) Durham’s Book Festival will see more than 70 writers feature in the 13 day program.

6 – 18 Oct, Durham – website

Manchester Literature Festival

Manchester lit fest

This celebration of contemporary writing in bustling Manchester will this year focus on imaginative writing. Both ‘literary heroes’ and ‘rising stars’ appear in the programme for the festival and the ‘young readers’ events are suitable for schools or families.

6 – 19 Oct, Manchester – website

Guildford Book Festival

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, this veteran festival has a week of events suited to any book lover. Creative director Jim Parks suggests that attendees will be satisfied with the festival, “whether your interest is in fiction, politics, biography, history, crime, romance, economics, royalty or whiskey”. We’re there – glass in hand.

12 – 19 Oct, Guildford – website

London Sports Writing Festival

Although the programme hasn’t yet been released, this niche festival promises the best sports writers and personalities to appear. One of the shorter festivals on this list, the event will take place, appropriately, at the famous Lord’s cricket ground.

23 – 26 Oct, London – website

Which book festivals will you be attending in the next few months?

Have your say below (just register first), on Twitter with #wow247 or on our Facebook page.

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