Home Fest: Round up of the best online literary festivals

Posted on May 27, 2020 in Uncategorized

From queuing for our weekly food shop (stepping back from that person in front of you who claims they have hay fever… just in case) to completing an entire week of work in our pyjamas, real-life may seem like it’s on hold right now but that hasn’t stopped us from finding other ways in which we can enjoy the world of books. Many event organisers have introduced virtual festivals, a way for authors and fans alike to meet and chat books without stepping a foot outside. Here are some of the best online literary festivals around at the moment as well as how to access them – all without a train ticket or long queue in sight.


Hay Festival Digital

Date: 18th – 31st May

Moved online from its usual setting in Hay-on-Wye, Hay Festival’s main programme is available to watch for free via Crowdcast. Live events feature authors such as Margaret Atwood, Ali Smith, David Mitchell and Hilary Mantel amongst many others, and participants can chat with each other as well as take part in live Q&A sessions with the speakers. The best part? All the events are available to watch again so you can “attend” as many as you like at a time to suit you.

You can register here.


The Big Book Weekend

Date: 8th – 10th May (available to watch online)

Combining the best of a number of cancelled book festivals including The Bath Festival, Derby Book Festival and Cambridge Literary Festival, The Big Book Weekend took place earlier this month and is still available to watch online. The programme combines well-known names and debut authors. Sessions include an interview with Michael Morpurgo, Neil Gaiman in conversation with Sam Weller, and performances by poet Hafsah Aneela Bashir and writer Alexander McCall Smith.

All sessions are free to watch on MyVLF.com.


Lockdown LitFest

Date: Ongoing

Lockdown LitFest launched with their first live webcast in early April and have been delivering an ongoing programme of events since. Featuring authors such as Joanne Harris, Ian Rankin and Kate Mosse, all events are archived and free to view so you can catch up and create your own festival itinerary at your leisure.

You can find out about upcoming events as well as watch past events here.


HistFest: Lockdown

Date: 3rd April (available to watch online)

With HistFest rescheduled for 19th and 20th September, event organisers released a virtual taster in April when the event was due to take place. Speakers include Michael Palin, Hallie Rubenhold, Wanda Wyporska, Greg Jenner and Sunny Singh.

You can find out more here.

By Emma Davies, Content Editor at Trotman Publishing and 2020 Treasurer for SYP South West.