Huddersfield Literature Festival announces a packed programme

The award-winning Huddersfield Literature Festival (HLF) will be welcoming a host of talent from Yorkshire and beyond to its 2019 Festival, which will run from 21-31 March 2019.

Bestselling crime writers Ann Cleeves (Vera, Shetland series) and Cath Staincliffe (Blue Murder, Scott & Bailey) will team up for a pre-Festival event on 6 March, while the Festival launches on 20 March with a Ted Hughes and Phillip Larkin exhibition and a captivating performance by Jonathan Tulloch, inspired by his acclaimed novel, Larkinland.

TV personalities will include Johnny Ball, who will bring numbers to life with a talk about colourful figures from history (22 March), and Julian Norton (29 March), known across the UK from the popular TV series The Yorkshire Vet, as well as marine biologist Dr Jon Copley (Ask an Ocean Explorer, 21 March), who worked as an advisor on Blue Planet II.

Politician turned award-winning author Alan Johnson will talk about his lifelong passion for music and his latest memoir, In My Life (26 March), and the editor of The Good Immigrant, Nikesh Shukla, will discuss the themes of immigration and assimilation in his latest novel The One Who Wrote Destiny, which begins with a young man moving from Kenya to Keighley (29 March).

As always, Yorkshire poets and writers get pride of place on the HLF schedule. Joanne Harris will be talking about The Strawberry Thief, the long-awaited new novel featuring the characters from Chocolat (30 March), sports journalist Rob Stewartwill give a talk at the John Smith Stadium about the inspirational story of Huddersfield Town’s record-breaking 1979-80 season (26 March) and performance poet Rose Condo presents a 10 x 10 Poetry Cabaret with an all-Yorkshire-based line up (23 March). There is also a talk on Huddersfield in 50 Buildings (27 March) and a Literary Huddersfield Walk (31 March), both with local writer Christopher Marsden.

Events for families include the Stafflex Free Family Day, with storytelling, a film showing and many other free activities (30 March), plus storytelling and walkabouts celebrating the 30th birthday of Elmer the Elephant (23 March). The Fables & Fiction Cosplay Ball returns for the second year (30 March) and there’s a new show from Perrier-nominated comedian Owen O’Neill (28 March).

Aspiring and established writers and poets can take part in a variety of writing and performance workshops, as well as Open Mic Nights, the launch of the Grist anthology (28 March) and the popular annual Poetry Slam (30 March).

An evening of LGBTQ+ performers (27 March) features the ever-popular literary salon Polari Up North with host Paul Burston, VG Lee and Fiona Mozley, plus performances from poet Gerry Potter and comedian Rosie Wilby.

The Festival’s Events Around Autism strand features Autism-friendly events including a film showing of children’s film Sing(29 March), sponsored by One17 Charitable Trust, and Kate Fox’s Hyperlexic Cabaret (30 March). The Bibliotherapy Experience will take place as part of Disabled Access Day (16 March) and a Wellbeing Weekend (23-24 March) will include talks, a workshop and a film showing.

Finally, a special post-festival event (9 April) will include a panel discussion with bestselling author Kit de Waal on Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers, plus a talk by the Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley, on his new book, Creativity: Why It Matters.

The Festival is well known for its accessibility and inclusivity, with several free events, Stagetext subtitling at selected events and Access Guides to venues.

Full information on events, venues and tickets can be found on the Festival website, where anyone wishing to receive advance information can sign up to the mailing list or unlock special benefits by becoming a ‘Festival Friend’.

For more information, visit or call 01484 951108.