TIME Books

Visiting The UK? Why Not Attend A Literary Festival

The UK is home to hundreds of literary festivals and a visit to at least one is an absolute must

The UK hosts more than 350 gatherings for book fans every year, according to Literary Festivals, allowing lovers of literature to exchange marginalia with their favorite authors, many of whom are lured into attending by the prospect of boosting sales of their latest work. At the Hay Festival in Wales last year, authors shifted some 35,000 copies of their tomes, whilst the Edinburgh International Book Festival did even better, with sales of 60,000. Both big business and an integral part of the literary scene, they’re a magnet for passionate readers. Below are some of the best fests the UK has to offer.

  • Foyles Grand Opening Festival

    Foyles and Graham Fudger

    The odd one out of this list, Foyles’ festival is a one off event being held to celebrate the launch of their new flagship store in London. The three week extravaganza will feature book signings, jazz and classical concerts, talks, debates, film screenings and creative workshops. Confirmed authors include Booker prize winner Hilary Mantel, chef Yotam Ottolenghi, and novelist Sebastian Faulks.

    The festival runs from June 11-July 5 and tickets can be purchased here

  • Port Eliot Festival

    Michael Bowles

    One of the trendier festivals, Port Eliot Festival is held in Cornwall in the family seat of the Earl and Countess of St Germans. Described by author Hanif Kureishi as “a sort of upmarket pop festival”, Port Eliot offers talks by authors, live music, outdoor film screenings, a wardrobe department and a flower show. This year’s festival will feature appearances from William Dalrymple, Shami Chakrabarti and Hanif Kureishi.

    The festival runs from July 24-27 and tickets can be purchased here

  • Edinburgh International Book Festival

    Edinburgh International Book Festival

    The festival, which began in 1983, calls itself “the largest and most dynamic festival of its kind in the world”. Hosted annually in Scotland’s capital since 1997, the festival offers over 700 events and hosts 800 authors, amongst them Nobel and Booker prize winning writers. The program for this year’s festival will be announced on 11 June and will include talks, debates and discussions in Edinburgh’s beautiful Charlotte Square Gardens.

    This year’s festival runs from August 9-25 , tickets go on sale June 24 and are expected to sell out fast

  • Wigtown Book Festival

    Colin Tennant

    Wigtown is Scotland’s national book town with around 12 second-hand bookshops, and has been described by the Guardian as “the sort of festival people get possessive about”. The town itself is charming, home to around 900 people who won a national competition in 1997 to turn it into Scotland’s book town. The 10 day festival attracts over 100 authors and this year will feature 175 events revolving around music, theatre, food and the visual arts.

    This year’s festival runs from September 26-October 5, the full program of events will be announced in early August

  • The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

    McPherson Stevens

    One of the four Cheltenham festivals of jazz, science, music and literature, this festival is the world’s oldest literary festival and began in 1949. Now it sells over 140,000 tickets and attracts around 600 authors, amongst them JK Rowling and Salman Rushdie. Speakers for this year’s festival are yet to be listed but visitors can expect to hear from leading figures from the worlds of sports, politics and, of course, literature.

    This year’s festival runs from October 3-12

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