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The 5 Northern Book Festivals Definitely Going Ahead in 2021

This Summer is gonna be lit…

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 12.05.2021


When? Now until 31st May 

Where? Online (from Liverpool)

Liverpool’s longest-running writing and literary festival is back for 2021, and this in-transition lockdown we find ourselves in isn’t going to stop it! What it is going to do, though, is keep everything online – not that that’s a bad thing, when you browse through the stellar schedule we can enjoy this May. For 2021 marks a landmark celebration: 21 years of WoWFEST bringing radical writing to the masses. And the festival’s organisers have arranged for a roster of high-profile guests to celebrate – among whom are leading iconic filmmakers, Booker Prize winners, legendary legal campaigners, musicians, activists and spoken words artists.

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Books By The Beach

When? 12th–13th June

Where? Scarborough

Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside… and never more so than when we’ve got a good book or two to peruse at our leisure. Well, take those holiday reading vibes and times them by a million and that’s what you can expect from Scarborough’s much-loved Books By The Beach festival. Some of the big-hitters in this year’s lineup of authors include Claire Wilcox (Senior Curator of Fashion at the V&A), everyone’s favourite news commentator Jeremy Vine, Bake Off winner David Atherton and The Yorkshire Vet himself, Julian Norton.

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Hexham Book Festival

When? 2nd–11th July

Where? Hexham

Since opening its doors in 2006, the Hexham Book Festival has captivated ever-growing audiences from near and far by attracting some of the most innovative and exciting literary talent on the planet to this corner of Northumberland. And now, after the craziness of the past year and a half, it seems only fitting that one of the biggest literary festivals in the North is set to be one of the very first festivals in the UK to return in full once lockdown restrictions lift. This year’s lineup promises to be just as special as the occasion; our highlights include bad-ass poet, Ted Hughes Award winner and former UK Slam champion Hollie McNish, as well as Frank Cottrell-Boyce, screenwriter of Colin Firth flick The Railway Man. But there’s way more to tickle your pickle here.

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Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

When? 22nd–25th July

Where? Harrogate

Harrogate’s renowned Crime Writing Festival is a popular fixture in many a bibliophile’s social calendar, so we’re delighted to hear Programming Chair (and the celebrated author himself) Ian Rankin has been busy organising some of the greatest crime authors around to descend on Yorkshire en masse this July. Details are still being released, but there’s still something we know to be true – this one never disappoints.

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Edinburgh International Book Festival

When? 14th–30th August

Where? Edinburgh

Edinburgh International Book Festival is the largest public celebration of the written word anywhere in the world, so it’s safe to expect great things for 2021’s instalment. Namely, around 1,000 writers and thinkers from across the planet rubbing shoulders with us, the audience, in the Scottish capital this Summer. The full programme will be available on the EIBF website from early July. But to whet our appetites in the meantime, EIBF has partnered up with The International Booker Prize 2021 to bring us an exciting series of live online conversations with the shortlisted authors over the next few weeks, up until the announcement of the winner in June.

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