Literary festivals and book events in 2021

Whether you’re looking for a real life experience or to immerse yourself in the bookworld from home - here are some of the most exciting festivals still to come this year. 

Jump to: May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec

An illustration of a map representing images of readers and books
Image: Alicia Fernandes/Penguin

May events

Author of Open Water, Caleb Azumah Nelson will speak at The Bath Festival Live
Author of Open Water, Caleb Azumah Nelson will speak at The Bath Festival Live

9-17 May: The Bath Festival Live, Bath (get tickets)

Historic Bath comes alive this spring with a celebration of books and music. Taking place in some of the city's most iconic buildings, festival goers will be able to hear from the likes of Richard Osman, Caleb Azumah Nelson and Dr Rachel Clarke within the walls of the Roman Baths or the decadent 18th century Assembly Rooms. Two new guided walks also feature on this year's itinerary - a Regency Romp exploring the locations of the Netflix sensation Bridgerton and braver bookworms are invited to follow in the footsteps of Mary Shelley who wrote most of her ground-breaking novel, Frankenstein in the city.

Live events will be available to watch post festival for those unable to make it in person. 

8-22 May: Stratford Literary Festival, Stratford-upon-Avon (get tickets)

Celebrating its 13th year, Stratford Literary festival returns with a wide range of events from online panels and debates, to physical workshops offering tips on plotting a novel to making your very own Shaun the Sheep. Highlights also include a general knowledge quiz all in aid of the festival's outreach work within the community helping children bridge the education gap in literacy. 

26 May - 6 June: Hay Festival, Haye-on-Wye (get tickets)

The Glastonbury of the book world, Hay returns this year with a free online extravaganza of more then 200 writers, thinkers and performers across 12 days, kick starting with the inaugural Opening Night Gala appropriately named A Night of Hope. Hay's programme of events are open for registration and include festival favourites Stephen Fry and Caitlin Moran to exciting debut writers like Catherine Menon, as well as literary heavyweight, Elif Shafak

June events


26-28 Jun: Felixstowe Book Festival, Felixstowe (get tickets)

Soak up the summer sun and the salty sea breeze at one of Suffolk’s best literary festivals. This year's programme offers a range of events hosted in the magnificent public rooms of Harvest House and a stream to watch from home. From creative writing workshops including how to write an audio drama, to a whole host of authors with Richard Dawkins and Joyo Moyes part of this year's line up. Due to the current restrictions there will be no children's programme but the festival organisers promise it will be back with a bang next year. 

July events

The award-winning Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival returns to Harrogate this July. Photo: visitharrogate.co.uk
The award-winning Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival returns to Harrogate this July. Photo: harrogateinternationalfestivals.com


22-25 Jul: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate (get tickets)

Dubbed the home of crime fiction, the picturesque town of Harrogate is host to a three-day festival celebrating the very best in crime fiction and awarding the prestigious Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the year award - seen as one of the UK's top crime fiction prizes. While 2021 details are still to be announced programming chair and bestselling author Ian Rankin is sure to deliver a fantastic mix of special guests alongside the greatest crime authors around. 

August events


14-30 Aug: Edinburgh Book Festival, Edinburgh (get tickets)

This year the Edinburgh festival will move from the usual location of Charlotte Square Gardens to the grassy courtyard of the University of Edinburgh’s College of Art on Lauriston Place.  As we await details of the programme, festival fans can expect a range of author talks, workshops and readings which will also be broadcast online. 

September events

Bath Children's Festival returns in September packed full of fun activities for kids. Photo: Bath Festivals / bathfestivals.co.uk
Bath Children's Festival returns in September packed full of fun activities for kids. Photo: bathfestivals.co.uk

9-15 Sep: Chiswick Book Festival, Chiswick  (get tickets)

Like many others, Chiswick took their festival online in 2020 which is still available to watch. Alongside an array of stella authors, highlights included the annual Young people's poetry competition, an evening celebrating local authors and a Ernest Hemingway inspired wine-tasting. Plans are currently underway for this year's festival which the organises intend to hold in person.

17-19 Sep Scotland's International Crime Writing Festival, Edinburgh (get tickets)

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 while details of this year's festival are still to be announced, you can join their recently launched book club for your crime reading fix. 

24 Sep - 3 Oct Children's Literature Festival, Bath (get tickets)

Europe’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival moved online last year with a programme inspired by Children's Laureate, Cressida Cowell's key message "reading is magic, and magic is for everyone." Authors and illustrators included Chris Riddell, Dapo Adeola, Robin Stevens to name but a few and while you wait for this year's full line up, you can watch 2020's offering via their digital hub

October events

2-10 Oct: Henley Literary Festival, Henley-on-Thames (get tickets)

Returning for its 15th year the Henley Literary Festival will be set across a variety of venues including the new Baillie Gifford Marquee, hosted in the riverside grounds of Phyllis Court. The live festival returns with a range of events for all ages and interests, and after the success of last year's virtual festival - where famous faces such as Graham Norton, Clare Balding and Tim Peake graced the stage - this year's events will also be available online.

November events

Watch this space!

December events

Watch this space!

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more