Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Lowdham Book Festival 2012

The programme is now available, at, where it can be viewed or downloaded. This is the thirteenth Festival, and though the programme is in the name of Jane Streeter and I, Jane has had to do most of the work this year. Every draft copy of the programme seemed to add another event or two. These range from a dog walk (there is a bookish reason, but nonetheless a rarity at book festivals - next year we go for the gerbil market) through to an evening with Ben Fogle. The Festival runs throughout June, with the last ten days being the core. Several Five Leaves "irregulars" put in an appearance - John Harvey, Jon McGregor, Chris Arnot, Stephen Booth, John Lucas, Alan Gibbons - but the only event dedicated to one of our books is Peter Mortimer talking about his new Made in Nottingham on 30th June.
Lowdham regulars will immediately notice that the traditional "last day" jamboree is not happening this year. This is largely because that has always been one of my jobs and I've not been around much, but it will return, refreshed, next year. Nevertheless the Festival includes 36 writers, 7 musicians, several craft workers, two storytelling troupes, one dog walker, six writers groups (in the fringe festival) and one rather large food festival.
Back in the mists of time, after the first Festival, we surveyed our public - did you want us to carry on with book festivals or would you prefer an arts festival? Opinion formers said "arts festival", but vox pop said "book festival". At the time such things were less common, and we concluded that people liked the prestige of a book festival, but were happy for us to cover other arts under that banner. So we've done theatre, film, early music, rock music, classical music, sports (OK, that isn't an art form, not even at my home town team of Hawick Royal Albert), and we've dabbled in food - but an all day food festival is new.
If you can't go to everything... my recommendation is our annual Readers Day (on June 30), with Jon McGregor performing his own man show based on This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You after which he will interview John Harvey. Oxygen Books is running a "City-Pick Nottingham" session, reading from local writers from the past and present. The whole day costs £20, which includes lunch, tea and coffee and a comp copy of McGregor or Harvey's latest hardback. A bargain. This annual day is being used as a model around the country.
I may not have had such a big hand in the Festival this year, but Pippa at the Five Leaves office did, designing and typesetting the programme.

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