British Literary Festivals

Literary festivals are held for the benefit of writers and readers alike, usually featuring a series of talks and readings by famous or up-and-coming authors. Naturally, such events are also used to promote new books as well as nurturing a love of literature.

Four of the UK’s best-known literary festivals are listed below.

Hay Festival

By far the best known literary festival in Britain is the Hay Festival. Founded in 1988, the festival takes place in late May/early June at Hay-on-Wye in Powys, Wales. Among its many attractions are book stalls, exhibitions and activities. This festival attracts many famous celebrities and authors.

Hay-on-Wye is one of the world’s acknowledged “book towns” because of its literary leaning and proliferation of bookshops. Other book towns in Britain include Wigtown and Sedbergh.

Oxford Literarytmb_132933_1582 Festival

What could be more apt than a literary festival in one of the world’s most erudite cities? The festival, which has been running for over 20 years, takes place in venues across Oxford, including such academic sites as the Bodleian Library, Christ Church and the Divinity School. It attracts many famous guest speakers and, naturally, is a great draw for intellectuals from round the world.

Cheltenham Literature Festival

One of the longest running events of its kind is the Cheltenham Literature Festival, which was founded in 1949. Held in the spa town of Cheltenham on the edge of the beautiful Cotswolds region, this event has attracted many of Britain’s more famous actors, authors, politicians and philosophers over the years. Unlike most other literary festivals, this one takes place towards the end of each year, in October.

Aldeburgh Literary Festival

Set in the unspoiled seaside town of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, this festival has been running since 2002. A small festival by comparison to some others, it still attracts eminent literary figures as guest speakers. Among the famous names to have attended the event are Harold Pinter, Dorothy Lessing, Ian McEwan, and Jonathon Dimbleby.