Looking Forward to a Literary Autumn

Autumn leavesAutumn has arrived (my favourite time of year) bringing with it longer shadows, a chill in the air, and a determination to get things done before Christmas. The literary festival season is in full swing, and I’m really looking forward to the Cardiff Book Festival this coming weekend. But there are lots of other exciting events taking place around the UK over the next few months, so here’s a quick glimpse at what’s in store…

1) The Cardiff Book Festival

Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th September in Cardiff

I enjoyed attending the first Cardiff Book Fest last October, and this year looks set to be bigger and better. Here are five highlights to look out for:

Writing Workshops – A novel writing workshop, a workshop on ‘getting published’, and an opportunity to pitch your idea to a literary agent (all on the Friday)

Patrick McGuiness at the Cardiff Book Festival

Patrick McGuiness at the Cardiff Book Festival in 2016

Poetry Showcase – A chance to hear from seven remarkable poets – Sophie McKeand, Susie Wild, Natalie Ann Holborow, Rhiannon Hooson, Rhian Edwards, Emily Blewitt, and Rhys Milsom (all in one event on the Friday night)

Literary Fun – A ‘Lit Disco’ on the Friday night – perfect for music/dance loving literary types (described on their website as “DJs playing tunes inspired by literature”) and a book quiz on the Saturday

Literary Legends – A chance to hear about Hedd Wynn, Wales’s own literary legend, an opportunity to listen to even more ancient tales with Horatio Clare, and an event on Arthurian place names (Sunday).

Serious Literary Debates – A debate on Welsh nationalism (Saturday), a discussion on ‘fake news’ (Sunday) and a panel conversation about promoting the work of BAME writers in Wales, with Durre Shahwar and Jafar Iqbal (Sunday)

2) The Cheltenham Literature Festival

Tracy Chevalier book signing

Tracy Chevalier signing books at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2016

6th – 15th October in Cheltenham

The festival is an incredible mix of fiction, poetry, art, history and political debate, with big names including Salman Rushdie, Sarah Waters, Miranda Hart, Harry Enfield, Michael Parkinson, Matt Lucas, Brian May, Jackie Kay, Hollie McNish, Ian Rankin, Sarah Millican, Simon Schama, Michael Morpurgo, Judy Murray, and Philippa Gregory.

The Cheltenham Literature Festival is like the Hay Festival in miniature, and I thoroughly enjoyed attending last year – read about my experience here.

3) Birmingham Literature Festival

7th-15th October in Birmingham

Birmingham Literature Festival celebrates its 20th year this October, with a vast array of fascinating speakers, perfomers, workshops and other events.

Highlights include the Brummie comedian and writer Joe Lycett, performance poet Hollie McNish, and writer and broadcaster Stuart Maconie, alongside the Booker-longlisted novelist Kamila Shamsie, acclaimed journalist and writer Gary Younge and children’s author Christopher Edge.

There will also be a ‘Backward Running Dinner’ theatrical experience (based on the short story by Jim Crace) – an unusual performance / experience which will take place at a secret location.

4) Off the Shelf

7th-28th October in Sheffield

This is a mammoth literary festiavl, covering almost an entire month and spreading across the city in all directions. This year’s highlights include a series of events with popular crime writers, including Lee Child. Other festival themes include ‘radicalism’, ‘India’ and ‘the Somali community’.

5) Poetry in Aldeburgh

3rd – 5th November in Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Here’s a quote from Sally Carruthers (Co-curator of Poetry in Aldeburgh and Executive Director of The Poetry School)…

Poetry in Aldeburgh is very excited to be co-curating this years festival with The Poetry School, as part of their 20th Anniversary celebrations. One event we are all particularly looking forward to is ‘Celebrating Mimi Khalvati and her Students’. For this special reading we asked Mimi, one of the school’s founders, to choose four students from her decades of teaching here to read alongside her. Her recommendations, as ever, were wonderful, imaginative and diverse – Edward Doegar, Hannah Lowe, Maitreyabandhu and Karen McCarthy Woolf.

Without Mimi, alongside her wonderful co-founders Pascal Petite and Jane Duran, there would be no Poetry School, and we can’t think of a better or more fitting way to celebrate this 20th anniversary than with a reading at Poetry in Aldeburgh festival.

And that’s just five of many incredible literary festivals happening around the UK. If you know about other literary festivals coming up this autumn, please share the details by commenting below…

You may also find my post listing ‘useful websites for finding UK literary festivals’ helpful.

2 thoughts on “Looking Forward to a Literary Autumn

  1. Hi Rachel – I’m looking forward to Cardiff Book Fest too! If you happen to be at my Crime Cymru event on Sunday (5.15 Dragon Suite, Angel Hotel) with Rosie Claverton and Carole Green, come and say hi!

    • Hi Alys
      I’m not sure which event I’ll be at on Sunday afternoon – there are so many to choose from! It’s at the same time as another event I was thinking of attending, but I will definitely look out for you.

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