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Festival of Words

6 February 13 words: James Walker
The first major literary splurge to hit the city in four decades
Nottingham Festival of Words - illustration by Cameron Bain

Nottingham Festival of Words - illustration by Cameron Bain


The last time Nottingham held a literary festival was back in the decade when a certain female was elected as the first Prime Minister of Britain and Evel Knievel attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon.

Now, thanks to a collaborative effort from the Nottingham Writers’ Studio, Writing East Midlands and the City Council in partnership with our two universities and a ton of support from other organisations - including our good selves - Nottingham can look forward to a whopping sixteen days of wordy goodness this February which will include the likes of Michael Rosen, Alice Oswald, David Almond, A L Kennedy, and Bali Rai.

The timing for the festival couldn’t be better; many local writers have either won or been shortlisted for numerous literary prizes over the past year. Booker nominee Alison Moore, who we interviewed last issue, said; “I’m delighted that Nottingham, with its rich literary tradition and vibrant writing scene, is to have its own Festival of Words, accommodating a variety of art forms, different ways of appreciating words, celebrating and showcasing local talent, and reaching out to new writers and new audiences.”

As well as offering entertainment to the reading public, the festival is also pretty important in developing the confidence and profile of writers. “More than thirty years ago, I was published in the anthology of a local writing competition and gave what was no doubt my first public reading” said Alison. “Nerves aside, I remember how proud I felt to have been included. It was my first sense of a writing community and gave me a taste for it.”

Nottingham Festival of Words 2012

It’s an ambitious festival that will see a diverse range of events, workshops and walks taking place in nineteen venues across and outside the city.

The Newton Building will host the majority of events in the city centre, with the Playhouse, Castle, Broadway and Antenna also offering support. For those preferring a more intimate and relaxed environment, then check out events at Central Library, Bromley House, JamCafé, Lee Rosy’s and Atlas Deli. Further afield the festival will draw crowds to Gannets Bistro in Newark, Beeston, Thrumpton Hall, Lakeside Arts Centre, Newstead Abbey and Wollaton Hall. It’s a genuine attempt to make the festival accessible to as many people as possible and to bring the various strands of local culture and businesses together.

This entire festival has been made possible by voluntary participation and to ensure it happens again you, dear reader, need to do one thing: buy a ticket. If you don’t you might very well have to wait another forty years for the next festival to come along.

Nottingham Festival of Words takes place at venues across the city from 9 - 24 February. Tickets are available from Experience Nottingham or the Festival of Words website.

James is the Chair of the Nottingham Writers' Studio. The studio are underwriting the festival because they believe Nottingham deserves more events of this magnitude. 

Read our pick of the events at the Festival of Words


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