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17 literary festivals in 2019 for book lovers

A book festival is the perfect place to celebrate your love of literature with fellow fans, see your favourite authors in action, and of course, discover new writers and illustrators.  Here’s our guide to the biggest and best festivals in 2019, across the UK and beyond.

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The best book festivals in 2019

The “big three”

This annual festival, which also has international offshoots, takes place in a tented village in Hay- on-Wye, a small town on the border between England and Wales, which is famed for its abundance of bookshops. It is held towards the end of May, and even boasts that there have been 29 weddings of couples who met at the festival.

23-2 June 2019


Edinburgh is well known for its big festivals, and the book festival takes over the city every summer. Welcoming around 1,000 authors and illustrators during its run, the festival is set in a specially created tented village in the heart of Edinburgh.

10-26 August 2019


Taking place over two weeks in October every year, Cheltenham Literature Festival has programmes for adults and children, and also hosts a weekend-long event called Lit Crawl. Taking place on the first weekend of the festival, Lit Crawl sees poets, writers and more take over venues across the town for pop-up readings, performances and open mic sessions.

4-13 October 2019


Great for children and young people

Southbank Centre in London hosts literary events throughout the year, plus the London Literature Festival, which caters for all age groups. Those looking for a children's programme for young ones aged from 0-12 need look no further than Imagine Children's Festival, which takes place over 12 days in February and includes theatre, literature and music. As well as literary events, there are workshops and free events to keep children occupied during the half term.

13-24 Feb 2019


Bath is home to two major festivals - the Bath Festival takes place in early summer, while the Bath Children's Literature Festival occupies an autumn slot. It is Europe's largest dedicated children's literature festival, and includes talks and activities. Previous quests have included Waterstones Children's Laureate Lauren Child, Tom Fletcher, Cressida Cowell and Jess French.

27 Sept - 6 Oct 2019


The brainchild of author Malorie Blackman when she was Waterstones Children's Laureate, YALC {Young Adult Literature Convention) is part of London Film & Comic Con. There is a programme of panels and author interviews, stalls from publishers where you can purchase books, nab proofs of forthcoming releases and grab merchandise, and best of all, cosplay is welcome.

27-28 July 2019


For crime lovers

First held in 2012, Bloody Scotland takes place during a weekend in September, bringing together crime writers new and old. It includes Pitch Perfect, in which new crime writers pitch to a panel of top publishing industry folk, and awards the Mclivanney Prize for the best Scottish Crime book of the year. And every year there is a Scotland vs England crime writers' football match, which is free to watch.

20-22 Sept 2019


Taking place in Harrogate in Yorkshire, this three-day festival celebrates the very best in crime fiction. It also awards the prestigious Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award each year, seen as one of the UK's top crime fiction awards. Previous winners include Denise Mina, Lee Child and Cal McDermid.

18-21 July 2019


Taking place over four days in venues across Norwich, Noirwich is is the region's largest annual celebration of crime writing. The festival is a collaboration between the University of East Anglia, famous for its creative writing courses, and the National Centre for Writing, based at Dragon Hall, one of the festival venues.

12-15 Sept 2019


Elevating underrepresented voices

Held by Diva Magazine, the DIVA Literary Festival celebrates women's writing and performance, and in 2019 will take place in Birmingham. It aims to give a platform for LBT+ writers, particularly those whose voices haven't been heard in the mainstream.


15-17 Mar 2019


Held annually, Jewish Book Week features Jewish themes and writers, as well as discussions on the most important issues of the day, and is open to everyone. Organised by the Jewish Book Council, the festival puts on around 80 events over the course of a week, plus organises special events outside the festival period.

2-10 Mar 2019


The Festival of Muslim Cultures and Ideas launched in 2018, and aims to celebrate the diversity of Muslim life in Britain and abroad. As well as looking at contemporary literature of all genres, it features topical discussions around identity, race and global politics. Its first line-up included Kamila Shamsie and Akram Khan, and as weil as literary events there were dance workshops and a stand-up comedy event.

27-29 Apr 2019


For poetry lovers

Verve is a four-day festival which takes place in the heart of Birmingham city centre, featuring award-winning poets and local artists. Taking place in February, there will be workshops, spoken word and music gigs, and open mic events.

14-17 Feb 2019


Taking place over 10 days every July in the market town of Ledbury, close to the Malvern Hills, Ledbury Poetry Festival attracts poets from over the world. It has been running for more than two decades, and also has a year-round programme for new and emerging writers.

5-14 July 2019


Founded to celebrate the “grand resurgence in avant-garde and literary poetry that has marked the 21st century in Europe", this annual festival takes place in a number of locations; in 2019 events will be held in London, Norwich, Manchester, Middiesborough and Dublin, regardless of Brexit.

4-17 April 2019


The international ones

Held in Jaipur, the capital of of the Indian state of Rajastan, this festival brings together a range of speakers from India and beyond. The five-day programme is set against the backdrop of Rajasthan's cultural heritage and the Diggi Palace. If you can't make it to India, the festival has a number of international offshoots, including at the British Library in London.

24-28 Jan 2019


Taking place in New York every autumn, Brooklyn Book Festival is free to the public, with tickets to events allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The festival includes a children's day and Bookend Events, which take place across the city.

16-23 Sept 2019


La Feria del Libro, Buenos Aires' international book fair, is one of the most important annual literary events in the Spanish speaking world. It takes place each April in Argentina, and is made up of ince than 1,000 events, including book launches, debates and, in 2018, a reading marathon.

25 Apr - 13 May 2019

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