The best literary festivals to visit this autumn

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Women reading books

Whether you love novels, children's books or poetry, you'll be well catered for this autumn with a wide variety of events taking place across the UK

If you love reading, then you've probably spent plenty of time during lockdown getting stuck into some riveting books.

While we have no doubt that would've been a wholly enjoyable experience, now that things are starting to reopen, you have the chance to get out there and really indulge your passion. Throughout the autumn, there are numerous literary events happening across the UK, enabling you to discover the latest titles, attend readings and listen to your favourite authors discussing their work. You never know, you might even be inspired to write a book of your own...

Want to meet likeminded literary fans? Why not join the Boundless Reading Room Facebook Group. To find out more, click here.

Chiswick Book Festival

9-15 September

Clare Balding

This popular festival in west London will be welcoming back live audiences this year, with a smorgasbord of literary favourites set to talk about their latest books. With the likes of Bonnie Greer, Dr Amir Khan, Gyles Brandreth and Clare Balding all having signed up for the event, there'll be something for everyone. There will also be an evening dedicated to local authors promoting their latest offerings. 

Queen's Park Book Festival

18 & 19 September

The only London book festival to be held in a public park, this event is as idyllic as it is inspirational. This year, the tomes being discussed focus on everything from football to fashion, cookery to current affairs – and there will even be some stand-up comedy thrown in for good measure. The weekend will be rounded off by an after-party on the Sunday, with DJs providing some late-summer sounds.

DESIblitz Literature Festival

18 September – 1 October

Committed to “encouraging the creation and development of the arts, especially among British Asians from South Asian communities,” DESIblitz Arts now hosts its own annual festival. This year, events will take place either at venues across Birmingham or online, with highlights including conversations with authors Tahmima Anam and Sarfraz Manzoor, and workshops on publishing your own work.

North Cornwall Book Festival

23-26 September

North Cornwall Book Festival

Photo: North Cornwall Book Festival

Cornwall is a wonderful place to visit at any time of year, but there's an extra motive for heading to the south west this week – the annual North Cornwall Book Festival is taking place in the tiny hamlet of St Endellion. Alongside a varied programme of talks, writers' surgeries and concerts, there will be a 'Padstow Bookseller' marquee, food and drink stalls, plus a portrait gallery. 

Bath Children's Literature Festival: Reading is Magic

27 September – 1 October

Following its absence in 2020, the popular Reading is Magic festival returns this year – albeit in an online capacity. Over five days, some of the UK's most talented authors, performance poets and illustrators will be beamed into homes and schools across the nation, to help stimulate children's imaginations. Not able to watch it this week? Don't worry – you can stream the content till the end of the year.

Henley Literary Festival

2-10 October

If you thought Henley-on-Thames was only famous for its Regatta, think again! Held at various venues in the Oxfordshire town, as well as online, the Henley Literary Festival always attracts an impressive line-up of guests. And this year is no different, with Ruby Wax, Ed Miliband and Jenny Packham just some of the names who are set to appear. 

Cheltenham Literature Festival

8-17 October

Richard Osman

One of the world's first – and biggest – literary festivals, this 10-day event traditionally welcomes bookworms from across the globe. This year's programme includes appearances from a long list of top names, including Sebastian Faulks, Richard Osman, Jonathan Dimbleby and Strictly's Shirley Ballas, as well as workshops and discussions on a wide range of topics. 

Wells Festival of Literature

15-23 October

Taking place in Cedars Hall, a state-of-the-art performance venue located in the leafy grounds of Wells Cathedral School, this festival has been inspiring book buffs for nearly 30 years. This year's highlights include John Simpson discussing his new novel, Our Friends In Beijing, and Emma Young talking about her extraordinary tome Super Senses: The Science of Your 32 Senses and How to Use Them.

Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival

21-24 October

Now in its 11th year, this festival sees bookworms flock to the North Yorkshire town for four days of word-related fun. As yet, there are no details of who'll be appearing at host venue the Crown Hotel. But with past participants including the likes of former PM David Cameron, British Army veteran Simon Weston CBE and BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin, we reckon you won't be disappointed.

London Literature Festival

21-31 October

London Literature Festival

Taking place at London's Southbank Centre, this annual festival is always carefully curated to offer something for all interests and age groups. This year's programme – stretching over 11 days – will see authors, poets, celebrities and commentators dealing with the theme of friendship. With everyone from comedian Jack Dee to neuroscientist Anil Seth in tow, it'll make you think, laugh and maybe even cry. 

Cliveden Literary Festival

23 & 24 October

Cliveden House in Berkshire – former home of the Astor family – provides the majestic backdrop for this annual extravaganza, once described by author Ian McEwan as “probably the world's best small literary festival”. McEwan won't be in attendance this year, but there will be more than enough speakers to keep you entertained, from Antonia Fraser to Michael Gove, David Baddiel to Kate Mosse.

Stratford Literary Festival

9-14 November 

Man reading book

Where better to celebrate literature than in the birthplace of one of the world's most famous writers – William Shakespeare? The programme for this year's Stratford Literary Festival hasn't been announced yet, but with past events offering a variety of bestselling authors, celebrities, workshops, discussions and children's activities, it's definitely one to pencil into your diary. 

We'd love to hear from you 

Are you planning to attend any of these events? Let us know how you get on by leaving us a comment on Facebook or Twitter.

Photos: Getty Images, unless otherwise stated

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