Litfest 2023 at various venues and online

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Poet Caroline Bird
Poet Caroline Bird

Lancaster Literature Festival - Litfest at The Storey Creative Industries Centre, Lancaster 5 — 10 October 2023 Entrance is free — Visit now

Autumn is officially here, and with it comes the special weekend edition of Litfest, Lancaster’s annual literature festival, and the fabulously accessible chance to take part either in person or virtually from 5 to 10 October.

The special autumnal edition features a packed hybrid programme of poetry, prose, history, crime, memoir, plus the 2023 International Fiction Lecture, and you can book a free spot or choose “Pay What You Can” (recommended price of £8 for an in-person ticket or £5 to watch online). If you can’t make it to Lancaster city-centre venues The Storey or The Dukes, fear not, as Litfest’s online streaming platform Crowdcast means you can join live wherever you are in the world – or you can enjoy recordings of the events on a 30-day catch-up.

The Litfest Autumn Weekend 2023 kicks off on National Poetry Day, with a special event hosted by poet and playwright Caroline Bird, whose sixth collection, The Air Year, won the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2020 and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize and the Costa Prize. Her previous collection, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 TS Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award, and she was one of the five official poets at the 2012 London Olympics. Manchester-based Carcanet Press published her latest book, Rookie, her Selected Poems, in May 2022.

We’ve also clocked last year’s Forward Prize for Best Collection winner on the bill – Kim Moore (for All the Men I Never Married; her latest book is Are You Judging Me Yet? Poetry and Everyday Sexism) is in conversation with Polly Atkin – and we’ve spotted that Lancaster University’s Zoe Lambert will be chatting to Jo Baker and Manchester-based James Clarke, who we featured recently talking about his latest book Sanderson’s Isle.

Another event that piqued our interest is Four Poetry Pamphleteers, hosted by Eoghan Walls and looking at pamphlets – short collections that allow emerging poets to bring their work to public attention or give established poets the opportunity to focus on a particular theme. Eoghan Walls teaches English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University, and has published two poetry collections with Seren, The Salt Harvest and Pigeon Songs, and the novel The Gospel of Orla (Seven Stories). The four pamphleteers are Natalie Sorrell Charlesworth (Fleet Salvage, published by Broken Sleep), Neil Curry (Things Being Various, Wayleave Press), Roshni Gallagher (Bird Cherry, Verve Poetry Press) and Dan Power (Memory Foam, his second pamphlet, is published by Doomsday Press).

The main Litfest will be back in Spring 2024 – this year, it ran from 17 to 26 March with two days of family-friendly activities and events, including events with Frank Cottrell-Boyce and the festival’s Reader in Residence Sophie Anderson, and a full poetry day, with readings by Zaffar Kunial, Sean O’Brien, winner of the 2022 Forward Prize Stephanie Sy-Quia and Litfest’s Poet in Residence Katie Hale. 

Rookie: Selected Poems by Caroline Bird
Rookie: Selected Poems by Caroline Bird

Lancaster Literature Festival - Litfest at The Storey Creative Industries Centre, Lancaster 5 — 10 October 2023 Entrance is free Visit now

Where to go near Litfest 2023 at various venues and online

Lancaster Library

Sitting in the heart of Lancaster is the Lancaster Library. When not serving its usual function, this beautiful space is occasionally transformed into an unlikely gig venue.

Castle View contemporary cottage, Lancaster
Castle View

Right in the heart of Lancaster, this contemporary cottage with one bedroom and a double sofa bed, a huge copper bath and a wood burner is situated in a peaceful walled oasis.

Lancaster Castle Lancashire
Tourist Attraction
Lancaster Castle

Lancaster Castle’s origins date back almost 1,000 years. This Grade 1 Listed Building occupies a city-centre hilltop location on the site of three successive Roman forts.

The Music Room from Atkinsons Coffee Roasters Lancaster
Café or Coffee Shop
The Music Room

The Music Room from Atkinsons Coffee Roasters is a cafe situated on a Grade II listed Georgian pavilion with sun trap outside seating.

Filbert's Baker artisan bread in Lancaster
Filbert’s Bakery

Filbert’s bakery is a family owned bakery that provides delicious fresh bread every morning along with breakfast goods, cakes and savouries.

An interior shot of the arches within Lancaster Priory
Lancaster Priory

Lancaster Priory Church is a vibrant, open and inclusive church at the heart of Lancaster. Music, education and community are at the heart of their mission.

Judge’s Lodgings, Lancaster, Lancashire
Judges’ Lodgings

The Judges’ Lodgings is the oldest town house in Lancaster, whose exhibitions and events bring the stories of the city to life.

Bar or Pub
The Stonewell Tap

The Stonewell Tap is a lively craft beer bar on Church Street, Lancaster, which boasts 16 craft beer taps and 4 real hand-pulled ale pumps.

Bar or Pub
Aquila Pizza

You can order online or over the phone to get your pizza fix. With regular deals on multiple pizzas and breads available for delivery and collection across Lancaster and Morecambe mid-week and weekends then keep your eyes on Aquila’s website and social channels.

The Herbarium

This plant-based cafe and bar serves delicious vegan breakfasts and coffees in the day, before transforming into a fantastic dinner venue in ‘Herb after Dark’.

The Storey Gardens

The Storey Garden is a hidden garden in the centre of Lancaster. The garden was created in 1998 by a dedicated team of gardeners, craftspeople, builders and artists.

What's on: Literature

Luke Kennard
Luke Kennard at Manchester Poetry Library

We’re looking forward to hearing from Birmingham-based poet, critic and fiction writer Luke Kennard, the third guest to appear in Manchester Poetry Library’s events programme.

free entry

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