Leeds Lit Fest is back! Returning for its fifth year, the city’s award-winning festival of words and thought will take place across a diverse range of the city’s venues and aims to bring together, and help develop, the city’s literary scene, with writers, poets and performers from the UK and beyond. This year’s festival is supported by Leeds 2023, the citywide celebration of culture which launched on Saturday, and will interweave themes of untold stories, radical acts, playful adventures and future generations.
The Festival is very excited to be hosting poet, playwright, memoirist, performer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay OBE as he brings his memoir My Name is Why to Carriageworks Theatre (Fri 3rd March). In it, Sissay reflects on his childhood, self-expression and Britishness, and in doing so explores the institutional care system, race, family and the meaning of home.
Other highlights include a day of events at the Howard Assembly Room and Carriageworks Theatre exploring the Contemporary Gothic (Sat 25th Feb) – award-winning authors Catriona Ward, Lucie McKnight Hardy, Dan Coxon, Mark Morris and Alison Littlewood undertake a delicious exploration of all things uncanny, horror and just plain weird.
If you’re into politics, we’ve got acclaimed political broadcaster Iain Dale, twice! In a solo event at the Leeds Library he takes a journey through Britain’s political history, told in 365 fascinating facts (Fri 3rd March). He then brings smash hit political podcast For The Many: Live to Carriageworks Theatre (Sat 4th March) with partner in crime, former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and featuring special guest the Rt Hon David Davis.
There’s a programme of free children’s and family events throughout the week culminating in a full day at Central Library (Sat 4th March). There are hands on workshops, storytelling and book events for all ages. Join us and meet authors such as Vashti Hardy sharing her latest book in the Harley Hitch series, Alex Falase-Koya with his latest Marv book and Sharon Rentta introducing her Animal Explorers.
If poetry and spoken word excites you, then Leeds Poetry Festival is at the Hyde Park Book Club with Verse After Dark (Mon 27th Feb); there’s a special edition of Chemistry at The Chemic hosted by Joe Williams with headliners multi-award-winning performance poet Dominic Berry and rising local star Kayleigh Campbell (Fri 3rd March); and for some spoken word brilliance, Nymphs & Thugs presents Livewire with Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Ty'rone Haughton and Jay Mitra (Tues 28th Feb) at the Hyde Park Book Club.
Jack Simpson, Leeds Lit Fest Vice-Chair and owner of the Hyde Park Book Club said, “The fifth Leeds Lit Fest looks set to be the best yet. With the city celebrating a year of culture, the festival partners have brought together a really wide-ranging programme, with highlights from the region and special guests from beyond.
We’re blown away by the support we’ve received, with almost half the tickets gone in the first four weeks of being on sale. We’re really excited to be bringing you once again this citywide celebration of words and thought.”
Alison Millar, Leeds Lit Fest partner and Principal Librarian: Reading and Arts at Leeds Libraries said, “Leeds Libraries is excited to be providing the family fun for the 2023 festival. This year is bigger and better with twilight events happening in community libraries across the city leading up to a day of author events, workshops and talks on Saturday 4th March which take place in our beautiful Central Library. If you love listening to stories or enjoy writing your own there should be something for you to enjoy. "
Photos: Lemn Sissay, credit - Paul Crowther; Catriona Ward, credit – Robert Hollingworth; Alex Falase-Koya; Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan.