Literary Festivals in London and the UK

Posted by Nick Hennegan on Saturday, January 23, 2016 Under: Writers
It's the New Year and you should come and visit us in London as soon as you can. Outside of town, check out some of the Literary Festivals we host in the UK.

There are now literary festivals throughout the year in most areas of the country. The largest ones include:

The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, at the end of March
The Hay Festival, in late May
Edinburgh International Book Festival, in August (Hear Nick Hennegan at the 2015 Festival on our podcast page)
Cheltenham Festival of Literature, in mid October
In addition there are many festivals that concentrate on the work of a single writer, such as the Wordsworth Festival in January or the Dylan Thomas Festival in November. And don't forget Dylans Day in May.

There are also festivals celebrating a particular genre or type of writing, such as the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival or the Clerkenwell experimental writing festival (both in July).

Below is a selected list of literature festivals in the UK, together with links for further details.

We also list a number of other festivals that may be of interest for combining with a literary tour. These include The Chelsea Flower Show and The Grosvenor House Art and Antiques Fair. For further information or help with any arrangements, please contact us

Wordsworth Trust - Weekend Arts and Book Festival
A residential course of lectures, surgeries and workshops at the Thistle Hotel in Grasmere

LSE Literary Festival

23 Feb - 28 Feb 2015

The Seventh LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival featured over 35 different events with more than 70 speakers including: Ian Bostridge, David Crystal, Anne Fine, John Gray, Tom Holland, Andrew O’Hagan, Will Self, Elif Sharak, Raja Shehadeh, Owen Sheers, and Ali Smith.

Takes place on the LSE Campus in London. All events are free (!), but you need to book. More info: LSE Space for Thought Festival

The Independent Bath Literature Festival

27 Feb - 8 March 2015. A programme featuring over 100 different literary events, from debates and lectures to readers' groups, workshops and films in venues throughout the city.

Words by the Water

4-13 March 2016. At the Theatre by the Lake, Keswick. The north-west of England's premier festival of words and ideas, in 2016 featuring amongst many others James Naughtie, Howard Jacobson, Richard Dawkins, Melvyn Bragg and James Rebank

Essex Book Festival

Comprising 60+ events in over 30 venues across the county, including theatres, libraries, schools, universities, through to cafes, art galleries, and excitingly for 2015, the train on Southend Pier! 2015 authors include Shami Chakrabarti, Alistair Carr, Dame Stella Rimington, John Hegley, SJ Watson, Rachel Lichtenstein, Jessie Burton and many more.

Suffolk Libraries Bookfest

6 - 22 March 2015. A NEW festival, launching in 2015. Includes Alison Weir and Kate Williams, Luke Wright, Kate Hamer and many more. See for details.

Chagword Literary Festival

13 - 15 March 2015. Dartmoor's literary festival in 2015 includes Deborah Moggach, Andy Mulligan, Sandra Greaves and Blake Morrison. Also a poetry competition. See for details.

Aldeburgh Literary Festival

5 - 8 March 2015. Including Helen Macdonald on H is for Hawk, Kate Mosse, A N Wilson, Adam Crick. see

Oswestry Litfest

13 March - 8 April 2015. This, the sixth Oswestry Literary Festival, celebrates words written, spoken and sung and features, amongst others, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, Alastair Campbell, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Dame Stephanie Shirley and crime novelist Sophie Hannah.


Oundle Festival of Literature

Events are now spread out over the year as opposed to one weekend, but children's literature events are focused on one week in March. See more at

North London Literary Festival
New annual festival held at Middlesex University in Hendon /

King's Sutton Literary Festival

A weekend festival in this charming village close to Banbury, Oxfordshire

The FT Oxford Literary Festival
The Festival presents over 200 authors, covering all areas of writing, plus events for children.

Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry
Trinity College, Cambridge. Takes place each year towards the end of April

Cambridge Wordfest
The Festival presents a wide variety of writers over three days in Cambridge towards the end of April each year.

Stratford Upon Avon Literary Festival
The Stratford upon Avon Literary Festival takes place at the end of April/beginning of May. The festival programme includes author events, workshops, performance poetry and lively panel discussions.

Books By The Beach Scarborough Festival

'Books by the Beach' is Scarborough's Book Festival. Experience live literature in a variety of settings within the town. Politics, Passion and a night with Poirot. History, Humour and a hint of Horror. Best selling writers will be making waves in April 2015. Tickets from Scarborough Tourist Information Centre.

Contact details:- website:

Colonsay Book Festival
On the beautiful island of Colonsay.

The Charleston Festival
A literary festival at Charleston, country home of Bloomsbury artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell

Fowey Festival of Words and Music
Fowey, Cornwall

Lincoln Book Festival

The Boswell Festival

The world's only biography festival, named after that magnificent rogue James Boswell, takes place at Auchinleck House, his ancient seat in Ayrshire.

University of Warwick Book Festival
This up-and-coming festival. Takes place at the University of Warwick Arts Centre

The Hay Festival
One of the largest and most famous literary festivals in the UK, in the ‘Book’ town of Hay-on-Wye.

Philosophy and music festival at Hay

Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival
2015 festival includes readings, workshops, talks, film, music, theatre, exhibition and even a 'poetry walk'. The line up includes Eliot winners David Harsent and Sinead Morrissey, plus Matthew Sweeney, Matthew Francis and Carrie Etter.

29 - 31 May

Word – University of Aberdeen Writers Festival

Swaledale Festival

Grassington Festival
A general arts and music festival with some literary events

Althorp Literary Festival
The Althorp Literary Festival takes place over a weekend in early June. See:

Worcestershire Literary Festival
An array of spoken word events, seminars, theatre performances, and more, to inspire, entertain, and educate.
See the programme at

Chalke Valley History Festival
Growing history festival, now sponsored by the Daily Mail
See the programme at

Buxton Festival
10 - 26 July 2015. A festival of opera, music and literature

Dartington Hall Festival - Ways With Words
3-13 July 2015. A ten-day literary festival set in the medieval courtyard at Dartington Hall, Devon

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival
Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate
16-19 July 2015. Presents many leading UK and international writers of crime fiction

The Ledbury Poetry Festival
In 2015 featuring a wide range of poets and writers including John Burnside, Simon Armitage, Rowan Williams, John Cooper-Clarke, Don paterson, Sophie Hannah, and Juliet Stephenson reading Emily Dickinson.
3-12 July 2015

John Clare Festival

The John Clare School, Helpston nr Peterborough
The festival is a celebration of the life and works of John Clare

Stratford-on-Avon Poetry Festival


Happy Days Festival
Samuel Beckett Festival in Fermanagh, with wide-ranging Beckett related line-up of events, often including readings on the Island of Devenish.

Edinburgh International Book Festival
Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh
Major festival of literature and the arts

Festival of Writing in York

Now in its sixth year, this festival is for writers of novels and non-fiction to meet with publishing professionals, literary agents and book doctors in prep for eventual publication. Normally gathers 300+ writers from across the country and abroad.

Friday 4th, 5th & 6th September 2015

Borderlines Carlisle Book Festival

Interesting mix of events including a crime writing workshop and talks and readings by a wide range of writers

Bristol Poetry Festival

Vibrant celebration of poetry

Graham Greene Festival

Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival

Festival in the home of `London lit

Soho Literary Festival

Chiswick Book Festival

Wigtown Festival
Scotland's national book town

Bournemouth Literary Festival
A world or words in Bournemouth

Henley Literary Festival

Everybody's Reading

Festival of reading in Leicester, taking place in a wide range of events in city centre venues including author readings, urban poets, bands and comedians.

Cheltenham Festival of Literature
A long-established literary festival with upwards of 400 speakers

Tears in the Fence Poetry Festival
Poetry festival of the long running poetry magazine 'Tears in the Fence'. This festival revives the spirit of the Wessex Poetry Festival and features readings, talks and music.

Takes place in Dorset, this year (2015) over the weekend of 23-25 October.

Manchester Literature Festival
Runs through October and November and presents a wide array of events

London Literary Footprints Festival
A series of 50 walks and talks celebrating London books and authors, including readings of books at the locations they were set in, authors speaking at London locations and walks on literary themes.

Lanark Book Festival
1 - 4 October 2015 This festival features a host of well-known Scottish authors, including Alistair Moffat and Christopher Brookmyre. From Scottish Fiction and History, to Whisky, Food and Drink – there will be a session for everyone to enjoy.

Frinton Literary Festival

Beverley Literature Festival
Offering a programme featuring over 40 contemporary writing events. Information at:

Guildford Book Festival
A wide-ranging festival featuring a broad range of fiction writers, journalists, biographers and personalities

Burnham Market Book Festival

Wimbledon Book Festival
A festival in early October which offers a diverse range of readings and book events at a selection of venues in Wimbledon

Wirral Bookfest

Inverness Book Festival

Gwyl Daniel Owen Festival
Mold Yr Wyddgrug
Includes readings, walks, music and writing competition.

Peak Literary Festival
Held annually in the spring and autumn (May and October/November) in the Peak District National Park

Dylan Thomas Festival
27th October - 9th November at The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea.

Aldeburgh International Poetry Festival

Bridport Literary Festival
8th - 15th November 2015
At venues all around town. 2015 Line up to be announced. More information at

Petworth Literary Festival Weekend

Line up includes: Andy McNab, David Starkey, AN Wilson, Alan Johnson, Terry Waite, Lauren Child, Jane Hawking, Irma Kurtz, Simon Cooper, Peter Hennessy, Christian Hill, Michael Billington and John Suchet. Also a special spoken performance by Ruth Rosen and Tobias Churton to celebrate the work of William Blake.

Literary Leicester

11th - 14th November 2015

Includes a wide range of exciting and stimulating sessions, with writers include Louis de Bernieres, Bruce Robinson and Linton Kwesi Johnson. All completely free!

Hampstead Arts Festival

London History Festival

Richmond Upon Thames Literature Festival
Runs through November. Highlights in 2014 include Sheila Hancock, journalist Peter Snow, Dr Irving Finkel and British designer Emma Bridgewater.

Cambridge Winter Literary Festival
30th November 2014. More details:

Southwold Literature Festival
6 - 10 November 2014. Part of the Ways with Words series of literature festivals, held in the seaside resort of Southwold, Suffolk

Other Festivals of Interest
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London
A showcase for the world’s most talented garden designers

The Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair
Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London
Features over 90 of the world’s leading dealers

LAPADA Antiques And Fine Art Fairs
May: LAPADA@TheRoyalAcademy, 6 Burlington Gardens

Please note: Every effort has been made to ensure information is correct at time of posting, but if you are making your own arrangements to attend please check dates and programme details beforehand with the festival concerned.

In : Writers 

Tags: festivals  writers  writing  literature  andy mcnab  david starkey  an wilson  alan johnson  terry waite  lauren child  jane hawking  irma kurtz  simon cooper  peter hennessy  christian hill  michael billington  william blake  john suchet. 
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About Us

Nick Hennegan Hello. I'm Nick Hennegan and I started the London Literary Pub Crawl. Most of the blogs on here will be by me. I've always written but my first theatrical success was an adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Henry V' ( I founded Maverick Theatre in 1994. ( This pub crawl is really more a promenade theatre performance than a tour and I'm running it with a bunch of enthusiastic local actors and writers. I love sharing my passion for the area and the artists. I also present a radio show on Resonance 104.4fm - London's Arts Station and a podcast on our site. If you haven't visited us in London yet, I hope you'll come soon. And feel free to leave comments or email me at nick @ - I reply to them all and I love to hear from you.


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