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What’s On: The Best Literary Festivals

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What’s On: The Best Literary Festivals

Reading glasses at the ready; there’s plenty for book-lovers to celebrate at these literary festivals...

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Topics: Books / Country / Festivals / Weekend breaks /

Best Literary Festivals of 2019

Calling all lit-lovers; our guide to the best literary festivals of 2019 is for you. From the book-lovers‘ Glastonbury to the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, we’ve rounded up the best literary festivals of the year so you can get dates in your diary now…

Words Weekend Festival

Words Weekend

When? 6 – 8 December 2019

Where? Sage Gateshead

What? A jam-packed weekend of compelling literary workshops and events featuring an array of acclaimed artists such as renowned columnist Laura Jane Williams, broadcast journalist Zena Francis and legendary DJ Norman Jay MBE. Kids will love Radio 1 DJs Greg James and Chris Smith’s Kid Normal event, inspired by the side-splitting superhero book, while adults can delight in a range of insightful talks and interviews, including a discussion on multicultural narratives and an inspiring talk on preserving language from the British Library’s lead curator, Jonnie Robinson. From journalism masterclasses, to poetry events and a spectacular story telling performance, there will be plenty of wonderful wordy activities to get involved with at this fantastic festival.


The Mayfair & St James’s Literary Festival

Mayfair & St James’s Literary Festival


When? 28 October – 3 November 2019

Where? A multitude of central London venues spanning Mayfair & St James’s.

What? Returning for its spectacular second edition, The Mayfair & St James’s Literary Festival celebrates female ingenuity and stature within the wonderful world of writing, bringing together a number of renowned personalities, such as illustrious painter and poet Frieda Hughes, award-winning novelist and Booker Prize nominee Elif Shafak, as well as an exciting panel discussion with leading female chefs, Ravinder Bhogal, Martha Ortiz and acclaimed food writer Ching-He Huang (all pictured above). Also new for this year is an ‘Ink on Screen’ feature film series curated by Game of Thrones actor Tobias Menzies and esteemed actress Justine Waddell, presented at the historic Regent Street Cinema, plus a local poetry competition for the pupils of St George’s Hanover Square CE Primary School, judged by Stephen Fry. View the full programme of events on the website.


Dulwhich Literary Festival

Jung Chang

Photo: Xiao hong Zhang

When? 6 – 13 November

Where? Dulwhich College

What? It’s one of London’s most beloved literary events, and this year the Dulwich Literary Festival will comprise of a star-studded line up of talks and appearances from the likes of literary sensations such as Jung Chang, (whose autobiography Wild Swans sold more than 10 million copies worldwide), Man Booker Prize-winning novelist and journalist Howard Jacobson, and someone all the kids will love, former Blue Peter presenter and children’s author Konnie Huq.


Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival

David Cameron

When? 17 – 20 October 2019

Where? The Crown Hotel, Harrogate

What? Now in its ninth year, Raworth’s Harrogate Literature Festival is returning with a sensational lineup of over 20 literary icons, including Louise Minchin, Sir Tim Waterstone, and Tom Bradby. What’s more, former Prime Minister David Cameron will be appearing for an exclusive conversation with James Langlade, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, to discuss his controversial new memoir For the Record.

How? or call the Literature Festival box office; 01423 562 303.

Where to Stay? The hosting hotel of course! The 18th-Century mansion boasts a spectacular historic exterior, delectable afternoon tea and an impeccable location nearby Harrogate’s idyllic Valley Gardens, the Turkish Baths and the charming town centre. Plus, you won’t need to travel far for the festival…

London Literary Festival

When? October 2019

Where? South Bank Centre

What? There’s always a heavy-weight line-up of the biggest authors and speakers at the capital’s most talked-about literary festival of the year. Previous speakers have included the likes of Hilary Clinton, Philip Pullman and Tom Hanks take to the stage for individually-ticketed events, and this year writers like Ian McEwan, Rose McGowan and Candice Carty-Williams will be taking to the stage.


Where to Stay? Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, Tower Hill. The latest addition to the Four Seasons’ dazzling portfolio is this exquisitely restored former HQ of the Port of London Authority. You will want for nothing in any of the 100 gorgeous bedrooms, spread over the hotel’s first three floors. Those above are dedicated to 41 apartments and a private members’ club. Doubles from £430.


When? 10 – 13 October 2019

Where? St Endellion Church, Port Isaac

What? Returning for the seventh year, North Cornwall Book Festival offers something slightly different. As an independent, locally-run literary festival, this largely unknown event may not pull some of the bigger names you’ve seen at the country’s larger literary celebrations, however, for what it lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in passion and authenticity. With an abundance of workshops, readings and performances on offer across the weekend, this is certainly not one to miss.

How? Book from 1 July

Where to Stay: Fowey Hall – Fowey, Cornwall. High above the delightful, literary, waterside town of Fowey, which famously inspired author Daphne du Maurier, stands the handsome country house that was also said to be an inspiration for Toad Hall in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. There are 36 rooms and suites, all different, all beautifully furnished with antiques and pretty fabrics; the oak-panelled dining room is the setting for delicious dinners, with special menus for children. But don’t think you have to have a family with you to come to Fowey Hall: cleverly, it’s a hotel that works just as well for couples. Doubles from £140.

Cheltenham Literature Festival

Cheltenham Literature Festival

When? 4 – 13 October 2019

Where? Regency Cheltenham

What? The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival is the UK’s oldest literary festival. Last year’s guest curators were novelist Sebastian Faulks; V&A Director Tristram Hunt; columnist and activist Scarlett Curtis; historian Peter Frankopan; curator, translator and writer David Karashima; and Junko Takekawa, Senior Arts Programmer at The Japan Foundation. This year, Cotswolds’ Lygon Arms has launched a Walking Book Club hosted by Emily Rhodes, literary journalist. Reading from Cider With Rosie, attendees will feel transported into the 20th century setting of the story. After the countryside walk there’ll be afternoon tea at the hotel and an overnight stay in one of their historic rooms. Walks will occur throughout the Cheltenham Literature Festival, but the first falls on September 5th. Tickets start at £354, book at


Where to Stay: Cowley Manor – Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. From the outside, it’s a stunning Italianate manor house in classical lake and cascade-filled grounds; inside, a flawlessly hip hotel, with 21st-century good looks. And although the style is cool, the welcome is warm from the ever-helpful staff. After checking into your state-of-the-art room – in six categories with plenty for families – you can while away time playing pool in the padded leather Billiards Room, drinking in the funky bar or relaxing on the elegant stone terrace, a suntrap with fabulous views. Doubles from £195

Henley Literary Festival

Henley Literary Festival

When? 28 September – 6 October

Where? A series of fantastic venues including Phyllis Court and The Hibernia at Hobbs Boat Yard.

What? Henley Literary Festival returns this autumn with an impressive line-up of speakers, workshops performances and Q&As with a long list of illustrious authors. Star guests include Mary Berry, Nadiya Hussain, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Julian Clary to name a few.



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