The best book festivals 2018 for literature lovers

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  • For fans of fiction few things are more pleasurable than spending a weekend in the company of your favourite authors, in stunning surroundings with a glass of wine – and possibly some cheese.

    Welcome to the world of the literature festivals – a homage to all things wordy and the perfect excuse for a book-filled girlie getaway that ticks the boxes for both geek and chic.

    We’ve put together a roundup of some of the best book festivals, so get ready for another fun-filled chapter on your literary journey.

    These are the best literature festivals across the UK…

    The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 at the Bailey’s Book Bar

    When: 24th April – 27th April

    Where: Waterstones, Gower Street, London

    How much: Events individually ticketed, starting from £7 – with a complimentary Baileys serve (for over 18’s only) but non-alcoholic options are also available. Booking in advance strongly recommended.

    More info:

    This five-day celebration, which showcases women’s voices in literature and the outstanding contributions of female authors, will be hosted by Kate Mosse. The event will shine the spotlight on the Women’s Prize for Fiction, shortlisting authors and creative women including Lily Cole, Jenny Colgan, Juno Dawson and many more. Highlights include Celebrating Emily Bronte @ 200 – where a panel of Bronte enthusiasts talk about their love of Emily Bronte’s only novel Wuthering Heights and why the Bronte sisters continue to exert such a powerful influence on writing today.

    Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival

    When: May 6th – May 8th

    Where: Chiddingstone Castle, Kent

    How much: Individual events from £12, and a full Sunday pass is £70 (booking fees not included)

    More info:

    Set in the stunning house and grounds of Chiddingstone Castle, this family-friendly literary festival is now in its third year it features an eclectic mix of renowned writers of biography, memoir, history, crime and much more. The event kicks off with a Festival Drinks Party on Saturday 5th May with Guest of Honour Ian Rankin and other author appearances include Lauren Child, Kate Mosse and Radio 4’s poet-in-residence Daljit Nagra among others.

    Hay Festival

    When: May 24th – June 3rd

    Where: Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales

    How much: The Festival site is free to enter, with ticketed events – starting from just £5 –  in 10 tented venues

    More info:

    Now in its 31st instalment, this year’s Hay Festival has an impressive roll call of leading authors and speakers from Margaret Atwood to Jilly Cooper and Chelsea Clinton to Gordon Brown. And when you’re not hanging on the speakers’ every word you can explore the Festival Bookshop get crafty in the Make and Take Tent or simply browse and unwind at the wide array of market stalls, cafés and restaurants on offer. And if you can’t make it to this instalment of the festival, the good news is that you mark the Hay Festival’s Winter Weekend  – November 22nd to 25th – in your diaries or part with a mere £10 to subscribe to Hay Player which contains thousands of audio and film recordings from Hay Festivals past and present.

    Buckingham Literary Festival

    Where: Various venues across Buckingham including the Villiers Hotel, the Radcliffe Centre and Buckingham Library

    When: 14th June –  17th June

    How much: Tickets for talks from £5 including a glass of wine! Priority booking for Festival Friends runs until 20th April. To become a Friend, visit Individual Membership costs £35, Joint/Family Membership £50 

    More info:

    An exciting mix of talks, discussions and entertainment in the beautiful market town of Buckingham. Highlights include Booker Prize winner Ben Okri will be discussing his latest poetry compilation, The Poetry of Protest and Lady Antonia Fraser (pictured) in conversation with Antony Seldon with her new book, The King and The Catholics.

    Ledbury Poetry Festival


    When: 29th June to July 8th

    Where: Various intimate venues across this picturesque market town

    How much: Events individually ticketed – from free events upwards

    More info:

    This year the UK’s biggest poetry festival features a cast of over 150 international poets across 85 events delighting audiences with the joys of the spoken word. Highlights include comedian and broadcaster Michael Palin, Scottish Makar Jackie Kay, Chris Difford (Squeeze), BBC News Quiz host Miles Jupp and much-loved poets such as Sandeep Parmar, Sinead Morrissey and Benjamin Zephaniah.

    Downtime from the festival can be spent taken a wander in the town’s exclusively independent shops including 2 independent bookshops, a chocolatier and Tinsmiths – an award-winning building with artisan crafts. Plus there are plenty of local scenic walks to enjoy.

    Edinburgh International Book Festival

    When: 11th August – 17th August

    Where: Set in a specially created tented village in the heart of Edinburgh

    How much: Full programme to be announced in June

    More info:

    As far as book festivals go Edinburgh International Book Festival is a big one and lays claim to being ‘the largest public celebration of the written word in the world’. Each year it brings together around 1000 writers from across the globe in over 800 events for adults and children. Among them are Nobel and Booker prize-winners as well as rising stars in the world of literature. Highlights from 2017 included celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie being interviewed by Scotland’s First Minister.

    The Hastings Lit Fest

    When: August 31st – September 2nd

    Where: Various venues across Hastings including Hastings Pier and the Electric Palace Cinema

    How much: Individually ticketed events across the venues from £10

    More info:

    Focused on writing for writers the newest literary festival along the South Coast combines the opportunity to meet some of the nation’s much loved authors and to hone and develop attendees’ writing skills. Authors and speakers include Jane Harris, Sophie Hannah and poet John McCullough.

    Chiswick Book Festival

    When: 12th – 17th September

    Where: Various venues across Chiswick, including Chiswick House

    How much: Tickets for individual events go on sale in July

    More info:

    Now in its 10th instalment the Chiswick Book Festival brings together top authors and their readers for a weekend of history, poetry, sport, biography, creative writing, fiction, thrillers, food, politics and children’s books. While the speaker and author line-up has yet to be announced for 2018, 2017’s saw Maggie O’Farrell (pictured), Jeremy Vine, Clare Balding, David Baddiel, Hunter Davies, Jo Malone, Nicholas Crane and many more take to the festival stage.

    London Literary Festival

    When: October 2018

    Where: South Bank Centre, Waterloo, London

    How much: Events will be individually ticketed

    More info:

    One of the most anticipated events in the literary calendar the capital’s literary festival plays host to an impressive line-up of heavy-weight speakers. While names have yet to be confirmed for the 2018 edition, the event has previously featured the likes of Hilary Clinton, Philip Pullman and Tom Hanks and this year is likely to have an equally impressive roster.


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