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A message from Artistic Director Ann Mossop

Stephen King famously described books as “uniquely portable magic”.

This captures one side of the beauty of books perfectly. They can be our companions, a secret in our pocket, a compact treasury of knowledge. But just as we can take books with us, books and stories can take us away from ourselves and from reality. They let us escape into different worlds, live other lives and travel in time and space.

We all read for different reasons, but these gifts of respite, empathy and the expansion of what we know and understand are very precious.

In 2024, the Festival brings together writers of the everyday and the fantastical, writers of dazzling fictions, magical words, captivating life stories and sweeping accounts of history and ideas.

As ever, the Festival puts diverse views and voices on stage for audiences seeking different experiences. Our guest curators, poet Jazz Money and writer and academic Amy Thunig, have put together a series of brilliant discussions, which you can explore here.

You can decide whether to stick with what you love or go out on a limb and challenge yourself with discovery or discomfort. You can choose to explore the intersections of writing with music, art, politics or philosophy or double down on the pure pleasure of poetry.

Listening to a story or reading a book builds bridges to a community of fellow readers, irrespective of time and place. But when we have the chance here and now to share a conversation with writers and fellow readers we instantly become part of a living community. Come and join this community and let the Festival take you away.