London’s Summer Literary Festivals

Posted on June 4, 2011


My ideal summer would be spent lazing in the garden/park/on the beach with a pile of good books, sealed away inside my own fictitious bubble. But for the sake of my friends, I have researched some more sociable ways to enjoy literature this summer.

So if like me you enjoy a good book, here is the best of what London has to offer.

BBC Proms Literary Festival, Royal College of Music

18 July-8 September
All events are free and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3

A series of talks exploring the connection between the music of this year’s Proms and the literary world, led by leading novelists, poets, philosophers and musicians. Special topics include Scandinavian Crime Writing, Instruments in Literature and Rudyard Kipling. Feeling Creative? Check out the poetry competition.

Hamptstead & Highgate Literary Festival, NW11

11-13 September
Bookings open 1 July

A three-day celebration of writing and reading. The programme is not yet announced but will include talks and workshops. Special guests scheduled to appear include Raymond Blanc, Esther Freud and Peter Snow.

London Literature Festival, Southbank

30 June-14 July
Prices vary, package tickets also available.

The Daddy of all London literary festivals, Southbank is sure to be buzzing for these two weeks in July. The programme boasts a diverse range of events, from talks and debates, to workshops and exciting theatrical performances. Sessions with the likes of Philip Pullman, Alexander McCall Smith and Alan Hollinghurst are already booking up, but there’s still time to book!

Stoke Newington Literary Festival, N16

3-5 June
Some free events, most tickets £4

A newbie on the block, this is the second ever Stoke Newington Literary Festival, but the lineup looks promising and is sure to be worth a trip to this charming area of North London. On offer are readings and talks with local literary figures as well as workshops and even a celebration of cycling! A conversation between Stewart Lee and author Dan Rhodes is sure to entice fans of the comedian who is local to Stoke Newington.

Queen’s Park Book Festival, NW6

All day 11 June
Many free events, a £5 advanced ticket will get you access to everything

Local authors give talks and readings. A special screening of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) is being shown at the Lexi Cinema, on the night of the 10th to kick things off. Special guests include actor Robert Webb and novelist Sebastian Faulks. Refreshments available.

World Literature Weekend, WC1

17-19 June
Tickets for events from £4

A weekend of words, music and food celebrating foreign literature. This year’s theme is history and its traces in the present. A wide range of performances, workshops and talks are being held, including workshops in literary translation. Special guests from all over the world include Javier Cercas, Carles Casajuana, and Cees Nooteboom. Not to be missed!

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