10 Festivals for Book-lovers to Enjoy This Summer

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Young woman reading in a deckchair at Hay-on-Wye festival

From Edinburgh to Devon and Cornwall to the streets of London and beyond


1. Winchester Writers' Festival

When: 17 – 19 June

Where: University of Winchester Campus, Hampshire

Now in its 36th year, the Winchester Writers’ Festival supports new and emerging creative writers. Its three-day programme includes 17 all-day workshops and 28 talks on all aspects of the writer’s craft and getting published. Speakers include top literary agents, commissioning editors and authors. Attendees can book up to four one-to-one appointments for feedback on their work and a commercial appraisal.

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2. Ledbury Poetry Festival

When: 3 – 12 July

Where: Ledbury, Herefordshire

The largest poetry festival in the country offers a mix of eclectic, eccentric and exciting music and poetry events. Scenic walks, readings, film and writing workshops are a few of the events available to indulge the senses, and the competition is already open for budding poets, whether child or adult.

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3. West Cork Literary Festival

When: 12 – 18 July

Where: Various venues in Bantry, Co. Cork

The annual highlight of the Irish literary calendar, the week-long celebration of writing and reading this year includes Zadie Smith, Louis de Bernières and Marina Warner among its literary heavyweights. A varied and extensive tranche of readings, talks and week-long workshops, its children's programme has also gained a reputation for attracting leading writers.

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4. Hebden Bridge Arts Festival

When: 24 June – 3 July

Where: St George Street, Hebden Bridge

Simon Armitage, Tracy Chevalier and Arthur Smith. Music, art, spoken word, family friend performances: Hebden Bridge Arts Festival appears to have it all. The festival brings together locals and visitors to enjoy a feast of creativity in magical places around this buzzing West Yorkshire town. 

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5. Port Eliot Festival

When: July 28-31

Where: St Germans, Cornwall

The legendary music and arts festival with boutique camping and multiple stages offers an always eclectic mix of writers, poets, filmmakers and comics as well as bands and artistes. Cornwall’s magical, bohemian, bookish, colourful, musical festivals this year features literary greats such as Gloria Steinem and William Sitwell, plus a profusion of iconic musicians.

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6. Edinburgh Book Festival

When: 13 – 29 August

Where: Various venues across Edinburgh

At the Edinburgh Book Festival there are events for every age and interest, bringing readers and writers together for inspiration, entertainment and discussion. More than 800 novelists, poets, scientists, philosophers, sportsmen, illustrators, comics creators, historians, musicians, biographers, environmentalists, economists, Nobel and Booker prize-winners are booked to appear in a celebration not only of the written word, but also of big ideas.

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7. Chiswick Book Festival

When: 15 – 19 September

Where: Various venues in Chiswick, West London

The Chiswick Book Festival brings authors and readers together through a love of books. It is a non-profit-making community event, raising money for three reading-related charities. Other events take place at Chiswick House, Chiswick Library, the Tabard Theatre and the Arts Educational Schools. Last year speakers included AN Wilson, Max Hastings and Mary Portas.

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8. Appledore Book Festival

When: 23 September – 2 October

Where: Appledore, North Devon

The 10th anniversary of the festival originally set up to save the Appledore Library. Held in a small fishing village, a 'forgotten town where people spoke their own language and worshipped in hidden chapels and dined off shellfish and seaweed' (as it says in the programme) the festival will see a range of workshops and talks by authors and journalists, including Jeremy Vine, to promote a love of reading.

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9. Cheltenham Literary Festival

When: 7 – 16 October

Where: Cheltenham

With the line-up currently being formulated, expect a packed program of speakers and workshops. The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival is a celebration of award-winning writers, world-renowned thinkers and international star names – with more than 450 events over the 10-day Festival. Cheltenham has hosted some of the biggest names in fiction, politics, television, art, food and sport.

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10. Footprints of London

When: October

Where: Various venues around London

Literary Footprints is an annual celebration of London books and authors, with the idea to take a literary festival out onto the streets, visiting places mentioned in London novels and hearing the stories read in the places they were set. Highlights of last year's festival included a walk around Jane Austen’s London, a literary history of Covent Garden, a day of Shakespeare walks and Greek mythology in London buildings.

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