I am proud to introduce the programme for Litfest’s 40th festival and we’re doing what we do best – only bigger and better. Our month long festival runs from Friday 8th – Sunday 31st March. This year our festival launch coincides with International Women’s Day and we will be kicking off by exploring the lives of the Suffragettes with Diane Atkinson, then showcasing some of the best of fantasy and literary fiction with Genevieve Cogman, Jen Williams, Sarah Moss and Carys Davies.
Our second weekend opens on Friday 15th with the long-standing Lancaster staple Spotlight , before taking our traditional Poetry Day to another level on Saturday 16th with events for all ages running from 10:15am until far into the night. On Sunday 17th we’re celebrating all things local with both new and established writers presenting their work. Both days have plenty of opportunities for writer involvement through open mics and showcases.
In week three we’re celebrating the importance of reading with Ian Anstice and, demonstrating that not even ‘The Beast From The East’ can beat us, bringing back our much anticipated – and much delayed – snowed-off launch weekend from 2018. Olivia Lomenech Gill brings some pretty Fantastic Beasts, followed by our YA day with acclaimed author Cathy Forde and embracing new ways to love books with a talk on vlogging from Hannah Hodgson. On the Sunday we’ll be ‘going continental’ with our partners at Lancaster University’s Department of European Languages and Cultures (DELC) exploring the possibilities of Digital Literature.
In our final week we have an evening of nature writing with Karen Lloyd and Beth Pipe, followed by a second DELC collaboration, exploring the potential of translation. Our finale weekend begins with an afternoon panel celebrating the wonderful world of children’s literature, before a sensational gala event in the evening: the triumphant return to Lancaster of the much loved poet Roger McGough, with music from LiTTLe MACHinE. Our festival finale is a specially commissioned adaptation of Gareth Thompsons’s local fairytale – The Sea Swallow – in partnership with our friends at LUDUS Dance.
Alongside our programme of events we also have literary walks, an exhibition, the Litfest Bookshop, workshops, the inaugural Litfest Scarecrow Competition and the launch of the new Litfest Friends Programme.
I hope you enjoy our 40th Festival, which will be my last as Chair. It has been a privilege to be a part of the third-oldest literature festival in England and I look forward to many years attending events and supporting this great Lancaster institution.
Chair, Board of Trustees