Literary Festivals are so much more than just books. Featuring journalists, politicians, scriptwriters and authors, they offer the chance to explore creative processes and discover more about the people shaping cultural dialogues. Here are seven of the best book and literature festivals coming to London this year…
Time on our hands and a desire for escapism has meant an increase in the number of books we have been reading since the pandemic began.
Romance, crime, self-help books and memoirs have been devoured as well as cookbooks and old classics with a third of people reading more than they did in 2020 according to research carried out for World Book Day.
And although digital sales have soared in lockdown, 72 per cent of people said they still prefer the feel of a hard copy in their hands when they curl up with a good book.
Book festivals bring together writers and readers to discuss inspiration and ideas, plots and poems and although big literary events such as those at Hay on Way and Cheltenham lead the way, London has its fair share of book fests to satisfy our rediscovered love of the written word.
1 Chiswick Book Festival
Chiswick’s writers have created some of the country’s greatest works, from Thackeray’s Vanity Fair to Osborne’s Look Back in Anger and Pinter’s The Caretaker. The eight day Chiswick Book Festival takes place from September 7 in 2022, bringing together top authors and their readers for inspiring and entertaining events in a variety of genres – fiction, history, politics, crime, biography, TV, food, wine, workshops and performance. Events take place at various locations around the area including at the iconic Chiswick House and a children’s book fair runs alongside the main event with shows, competitions and activities.
Dates: September 7-14
Venue: Various locations around Chiswick
2 Evening Standard Stories Festival
The Evening Standard joined forces with Netflix in 2021 with a storytelling festival to give a new generation the chance to find their voice.The line-up for the three-day Stories Festival in 2021 at Picturehouse Central included Line of Duty writer Jed Mercurio and singer Will Young, in conversation with Rob Rinder about his memoir To Be a Gay Man. In September 2022, The Evening Standard Stories Festival will host another three day celebration of storytelling featuring talks, interviews, workshops, book signings and a story competition with categories for both adults and young adults. Details for this year’s festival are still to be confirmed, but visit the website to register your email to keep up to date.
3 London Literature Festival, Southbank
Taking place on the Southbank in October, the London Literature Festival celebrates the written word with poets, novelists and journalists. Meet the writers shaping our cultural life with a line-up featuring eminent authors alongside rising literary stars, innovative performances of international fiction and viral sensations, live podcasts and major awards including the Booker Prize and Forward Prizes for Poetry. During half-term there will be a packed programme of family-friendly events, ensuring there’s something for readers of every age.
Dates: October 21-31
Venue: Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
4 Jewish Book Week, King’s Cross
London’s oldest book fair which has been running since 1952 is to take place at the end of February 2022. Talks, panels and performances can be enjoyed at the event at King’s Place to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the event. Events already confirmed and on sale include Booker winner Harold Jacobson launching his memoir Mother’s Boy in conversation with Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis. Other events include A Ridley Road panel looking at the BBC series and the novel from which it was adapted.
Dates: February 26 – March 6
Venue: King’s Place, 90 York Way, King’s Cross, N1 9AG
5 Queen’s Park Book Festival
One of a handful of book fairs to take place in a public park, Queens Park Book Festival is held over a weekend in September. The 30 acre park hosts a range of events for all ages in a garden party atmosphere. The festival’s unique Queen’s Park Community Tent is a home on the festival site for a diverse range of local writers providing a platform for them to share their work to hundreds of people in a free, public space. The Community Tent was created specifically to champion local voices and empower under-represented groups in the community. It is an extremely popular festival venue and has previously been a platform for local refugees, elderly residents, young poets and emerging authors.
Dates: September 17-18
Venue: Queen’s park, NW6 6SG
6 Barnes Children’s Book Festival
The organisers of Barnes Children’s Book Festival are currently working on a programme for 2022 with a free Primary Schools Programme in Tower Hamlets (June 9&10), Wandsworth (June 16&17) and Barnes (June 21-24), where free places for 10,000 children will be provided over eight days. This will be followed by a public weekend on June 25-26, 2022 with more than 100 events, workshops and free activities around Barnes for young book fans and their families.
Dates: June 21-26
Venue: Various locations
7 Wimbledon BookFest
In 2021 Wimbledon Book Fest held two Covid-safe summer festivals on Wimbledon Common - Sunrise in June and Sunset in September – and plans are in place for similar events in 2022. Sunset 21 saw 40 live events with speakers such as Sebastian Faulks, Miriam Margolyes and Anita Rani. The Book Fest also runs numerous educational events for schools in Merton and South London and the Robert Graves poetry prize, The Prize, named after poet, historical novelist and critic Robert Graves, is now in its fourth year and is open to emerging and established poets and unrestricted by location, genre, or subject.
Dates: Sunrise: June 9-15; Sunset: September 22-25
Venue: Various locations