Lancaster Litfest online this year due to Covid-19 pandemic

Lancaster’s 42nd annual literature festival returns on March 12-21.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 3:31 pm

Having had to cancel the 2020 festival due to Covid, Litfest has bounced back with an innovative and totally online programme, full of events, activities and ideas which will be accessible to more people than before.

And this year, in recognition of the tough time everyone has been having, Litfest will not be charging for tickets but actively seeking donations. Litfest 2021 offers four new and ambitious projects, supported by public funding from Arts Council England, which will engage audiences all over the region:

- The Litfest Big Read (two reading challenges)

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Author A M Dassu in front of a Boy, Everywhere banner.

- How We Live Now (six documentary films of local lives)

- How We Live Next (four talks and a panel discussion with live Q&A on life after Covid)

- New Writing Northwest (four workshops in four different genres for emerging writers)

Litfest is launched with big read, Boy, Everywhere by A.M. Dassu (pictured right, suitable for ages 11-14). It follows the journey of Sami, driven by war from his comfortable life in Damascus, across the sea to Europe and eventually to a struggle for survival in Manchester.

Best-selling author Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library is for all readers from 15 up. This funny, moving story of a young woman who gets the chance to live as she might have done had she made different choices and so settle her regrets, sparks imagination and hope. The two writers championing the campaign, which is supported by Lancashire Libraries, will talk about their work on Friday March 12 at 6pm (A.M. Dassu) and 7.30pm (Matt Haig). Each event will be followed by a live online Q&A. A.M. Dassu writes, ‘it is truly wonderful that, despite the challenges we’ve all faced, Litfest has found a way to bring us all together online to share a magical reading experience.’ Everyone who registers to take up the Litfest Big Read challenge will be entered into a prize draw with three prizes in each age category: three paperback books (up to a total value of £30) and three free passes to Litfest events in 2022. Writers are invited to apply for a place on the New Writing North West project, which will feature a series of free online workshops led by four acclaimed writers. Fiction author Yvonne Battle-Felton, poet Kim Moore, Karen Lloyd, who writes about nature and environment, and Daniel Hahn, whose work involves translation, will lead the workshops. Writers will have the chance to submit and discuss pieces of their own work with the workshop leader and other participants. To apply for one of the eight places in each workshop, writers are asked to send in, depending on the chosen genre, either 500-700 words of fiction, or 500-700 words of nature and environment writing, or six complete poems, or 500 words of translated fiction. The course is free of charge, and workshops will take place via Zoom in March and April. Submissions should be sent to Bill Swainson at [email protected] by March 5. Successful applicants will be notified by March 9. All Litfest public events will be available on YouTube for 30 days afterwards. For more information or to book a place at one of the online events, visit