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We Hear All About Newark Book Festival, the Event Aiming to Celebrate Nottinghamshire’s Literary Community

26 June 22 words: Lizzy O’Riordan

Fancy a crime writing workshop? A heritage walk? Perhaps a story told on a riverboat? Well then you’re in luck, because Newark Book Festival has all that and more. Now in its sixth year, the festival is on a mission to celebrate Nottingham’s literary community and the local area. We catch up with Artistic Director Sara Bullimore to find out what’s in store…

Formed in 2017, Newark Book Festival is a celebration of Nottinghamshire’s literary scene, spanning across four days in July in the form of author talks, workshops and a whole series of family-friendly events. 

Forced to hold the festival partially online for the past two years due to COVID, this year marks their exciting return to an in-person festival, which will be held across Newark. “We started as a two day festival in 2017, stemming off from Books in the Castle,” Artistic Director Sara Bullimore tells me, “but we’ve grown so quickly since then. It feels like we’ve jumped from a small emerging festival to something that has expanded so much.”

Previously held solely at Newark Castle, the festival has stretched to include “all the brilliant heritage spaces, cafes, businesses and indoor and outdoor spaces - encouraging people to explore the town a bit more.” As a part of this, the festival is working alongside the High Street Heritage Project for Newark, hosting “a couple of heritage walks that include a historian and a poet, where you can go out and look at the buildings and parks and be inspired by them.”

We’ve jumped from a small emerging festival to something that has expanded so much

The festival has over sixty events in total, including a series of community outreach programmes that span past the four-day festival period. “We have our schools programme which twelve or thirteen schools have signed up to, and our young journalists programme. We’re also doing some workshops with Syrian families in the lead-up this year. Plus we will have a whole series of pop-up events that take place in other communities after the festival.”

At the festival itself, a vibrant weekend is in store. With this year’s theme centring around music, Sara says that the market town will be taken over with street performances and, of course, literary-themed events. After a high level of popularity in previous years, the ‘literary village’ will be taking place every day of the festival. A marketplace for all things literature, it hosts “anything from museums selling books, authors, indie publishers, all the way to craft makers who use words as inspiration, or cake makers who make book festival cupcakes.”

Sara says the festival “has a lot of family engagement because we run a lot of free activities, many of which are connected to the summer reading challenge over at the library.” However, the festival is for all ages, and has been known to draw in Nottinghamshire’s writing community as well as many tourists who are eager to visit Newark - a location that Sara describes as ideal due to its “easy transport links and lovely independent shops and cafes that want to get involved.” 

Newark Book Festival is taking place from Thursday 7 July -Sunday 10 July 2022. Events can be booked on their website

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