Festival Of Libraries 2022 at various venues

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Lemn Sissay. Photo by Hamish Brown
Poet and Festival Of Libraries Ambassador Lemn Sissay. Photo by Hamish Brown.

15 — 19 June 2022 Entrance is free — Visit now

Manchester UNESCO City of Literature’s Festival Of Libraries is back with a programme of 80 events for all running from Wednesday 15 to Sunday 19 June.

This is the second year for the county-wide celebration of Greater Manchester’s 133 libraries, and once again features a varied and vibrant programme that highlights the library network’s offer for people from all backgrounds and demographics, with events taking in wellbeing, activism, culture and creativity, digital and information, and reading, and showcasing digital art commissions, writer residencies, dance, performance, panel talks and walking tours.

Festival Ambassador and BAFTA-nominated, international prize-winning writer Lemn Sissay OBE appears at Manchester Central Library leading the Inspired By Libraries events.

The events take place across Greater Manchester’s rich tapestry of heritage libraries, including Central Library – the busiest public library in the country – and internationally renowned institutions like Chetham’s, The Portico and John Rylands, as well as the equally important and vital local libraries that deliver much needed support and services to their communities. There are also tours of the book collections of Manchester University and Bolton NHS Libraries, not normally open to the public, with highlights including the only entire hospital based copy of the human printed genome.

There are plenty of free family activities and a showcase author event on 18 June in Manchester city centre with Sir Lenny Henry and his book The Boy With Wings, as well as much for adults, including writing for wellbeing workshops, shared reading experiences and author evenings across the region’s libraries. King of Manc Noir David Nolan is at Bredbury Library on 15 June (7-8pm) while crime writer Chris Simms graces Marple Library with his presence on 16 June (7-8pm), and there’s more crime at The Portico, hosting the first Palmer Crime Writing Lecture on 15 June (6.30pm) as part of the festival.

Festival Ambassador and BAFTA-nominated, international prize-winning writer Lemn Sissay OBE appears at Manchester Central Library leading the Inspired By Libraries events, which will hear from a number of famous faces on how libraries have had an lasting positive effect on their lives, including historian Greg Jenner (Horrible Histories; You’re Dead to Me) at Urmston, Salford-born BBC Radio Manchester DJ Mike Sweeney in Eccles, The Repair Shop‘s Jay Blades, who famously learnt to read at the age of 51, at Bolton Le Mans Crescent, and actress and activist Julie Hesmondhalgh.

Former Scottish Makar Jackie Kay CBE will be chatting to visual artist Abigail Reynolds (her Elliptical Reading project is part of the British Art Show 9) at Manchester Poetry Library, on the Manchester Metropolitan University campus, which is hosting the free Love To Read strand. Open to all, it features, on 15 June (7-8pm, online), poet Andrew McMillan, presenting 100 Queer Poems, a new anthology which he curated alongside Mary Jean Chan, and award-winning author Lara Williams, reading from and chatting about her new novel The Odyssey on 16 June (2-3pm, Manchester Poetry Library). Throughout the Festival Of Libraries, there will be 20-minute introductory tours of Manchester Poetry Library and the chance to join up, as well as a discussion about the future of poetry libraries.

On 18 June (1-3.30pm), poet and Burgess Fellow Will Harris will be running a creative writing workshop in the book-lined and wood-panelled Chief Librarian’s Office at Central Library – his debut poetry book RENDANG was published by Granta and was a Poetry Book Society Choice and won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

15 — 19 June 2022 Entrance is free Visit now

Where to go near Festival Of Libraries 2022 at various venues

Waterstones Leeds

Standing proudly on the busy shopping hub of Albion Street, Waterstones Leeds is a bookshop that also hosts a variety of events

Manchester Factory international Festival - People enjoying Festival Square in the city centre
Café or Coffee Shop
Factory Square

Factory Square is a huge beer garden, on the banks of the River Irwell, with top-quality drinks and street food selections.


Modern Greek Mediterranean cuisine from the team behind Tattu.

Flat Iron Leeds
Flat Iron Leeds

Relaxed restaurant in Leeds serving impressively high-quality steaks at an affordable price point.


Odioba is a new audiophile bar in Stockport, from the team behind the much-missed NAM. Coffee shop by day, bar by night.

What's on: Literature

Yellow poster with Weird as Folk written on it
Weird As Folk exhibition at The Portico

The Portico Library’s latest exhibition, Weird As Folk, runs through to November and invites you to explore and reimagine folklore via texts selected from the collection, which includes 100 books of English folklore.

free entry
AJ West
AJ West at Truman Books

Bestselling author AJ West’s latest historical thriller The Betrayal of Thomas True has been described by Stephen Fry as “really very good” and Farsley independent Truman Books is giving you the chance to hear more.

from £8.00
Rebecca Watson author photo
Rebecca Watson at Blackwells

Acclaimed author and one of the ten best debut novelists on The Observer’s prestigious list in 2021, Rebecca Watson will be chatting about her latest book with culture writer Jess White at Blackwells bookshop in Manchester.

from £4.00

Culture Guides

Rebecca Watson author photo
Literature Events in Manchester and the North

In between working out, then working through, your holiday reading pile this summer, find inspiration for your next bookish acquisitions from our selection of live events and exhibitions.