With the warmer months bursting with literary talent, workshops and talks, book lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to the UK's literary festivals. Here we reveal our recommendations for some of the best book festivals being held across the country this spring and summer.
Our pick of book festivals are scattered across the UK from Cornwall to Edinburgh. Whether you'll be journeying north or south to attend, just don't forget a good book to keep you company on the journey!
Book Festivals and Literary Festivals in 2020
May is certainly the most popular month for book festivals in 2020 so far, but we'll update this list regularly as the details of others are released as the year rolls on.
Book Festivals in May
Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival, Kent, 7th-10th May
With inspiring authors, workshops, entertainment and local food and drink on offer throughout, this Kent-based festival is set to welcome some extraordinary literary giants this spring. Attending authors include ex-UK Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman, bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell and the queen of literary fiction, Joanna Trollope.
They will be sharing their stories and experiences with audiences and Sevenoaks Bookshop once again mans the on-site festival bookshop.
And if you’re looking to fully immerse yourself in all things literary look no further than the range of workshops on offer. These include oral storytelling with ex-BBC correspondent Julia Wheeler and poetry with playwright and BBC Poetry Producer Emma Harding, as well as creative writing.
Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature, Cornwall, 8th-16th May
This picturesque coastal town – once home to the great Daphne du Maurier – becomes a hive of literary activity in early May. The town’s famous inhabitant continues to inspire literature lovers with their annual festival.
This year to really showcase Fowey’s connection to the works of Daphne du Maurier there will be a series of readings, as well as an interview with Lennie Goodings, chair of Virago Press, which publishes her works.
Writer and broadcaster Michael Portillo, novelist Gill Hornby and broadcaster Penny Smith will be among this year’s modern literary stars.
Every day will see a new series of readings, workshops and interviews, many conducted by Penny herself. Other festival attendees include journalist Kate Spicer whose memoir has become a Top 10 bestseller and literary agent Andrew Lownie.
Stratford Literary Festival, Stratford-Upon-Avon, 9th-17th May
Celebrating its 13th year, Stratford Literary Festival is one of the most significant literary festivals in England, taking place in historic Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of the great bard Shakespeare.
This festival offers something for everyone who loves a good book and this year will deliver a mix of debates, talks, quizzes and workshops, alongside a programme of education events in local schools.
The festival has recently confirmed that authors Joanna Trollope, Michael Morpurgo, Salley Vickers, Cressida Cowell and Candice Brathwaite will be just some of the esteemed literary company throughout the 8 days. This year in a break with previous tradition, there will also be a Festival Hub Marquee as the central entry point before visitors break off for the individual events.
Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, 21st-31th May
Hay Festival is the world's best known book festival, selling more than 280,000 tickets to its annual spring event in what has become known as the "the town of books", Hay-on-Wye.
With the full programme due to be announced around Easter, the festival organisers have already confirmed the presence of acclaimed writers Hilary Mantel, Ali Smith, Gloria Steinem and Laura Bates.
Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour also brings nine nature-themed performances to take place in a new theatre space.
The selection includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It and The Tempest. Directed by Brendan O’Hea, these plays have been specially selected for the way they consider our relationship with the natural world as part of Hay Festival’s focus on facing the climate emergency head on.
Book Festivals in July
Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, 23rd-26th July
This three-day festival in north Yorkshire showcases the best in crime fiction and each year awards its own Crime Novel of the Year Award – something seen by many as one of the UK’s most prestigious fiction prizes.
With the Programming Committee headed by king of crime fiction, Ian Rankin, this festival is consistently acclaimed for it’s programming and thrilling atmosphere.
Though yet to announce their 2020 line-up, last year welcomed the likes of James Patterson, Harlan Coben and Val McDermid to the stage, as well as Jo Nesbo and Line of Duty writer Jed Mercurio to this literary stage.
Sure to reach similar heights this year, there will likely also be a repeat of the handpicked panels and other author activities sure to entertain throughout the 3-day event.
Book festivals in August
Edinburgh Book Festival, Edinburgh, 15th-31st Aug
The Scottish capital has become world-renowned for hosting many creative festivals and welcomes around 900 international authors from over 60 countries during the Book Festival’s 16-day long run.
With over 800 events specially catering for a range of literary tastes and reading ages, novelists, poets, historians and illustrators alike will descend upon the city to inspire visitors with their crafts.
Set in a specially created tented village in the heart of the city, as well as other historic venues, the full programme is due to be announced in June, so this is definitely one to keep your eye on.
Have we missed your fave book festival? Let us know!
Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.
Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.
In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for womanandhome.com.
After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!
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