Celebrated on 15 April each year, marking the birthday of influential artist Leonardo da Vinci, World Art Day promotes awareness of creative activities around the globe. But in Britain celebrations of the arts are not limited to just one day, as there are a wide array of enthralling literature and art festivals taking place throughout the year.
From March 2019, a year-long nationwide arts festival will celebrate refugees that escaped from Nazi Europe and their impact on British culture. Insiders/ Outsiders will feature exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, lectures, dance and theatre performances, walks and literary events all over Britain. It seeks to showcase the influence of artists, writers, architects, designers, actors, photographers, musicians, publishers, art historians, dealers and collectors, among many others, who have enriched Britain’s culture having fled Nazi-dominated Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, and initiated by art historian Monica Bohm-Duchen, the festival recognises the deep, long-lasting and wide-ranging contributions that refugees have made, and continue to make, to society.
When? March 2019 – March 2020
Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival
Found within the picturesque grounds and house of Chiddingstone Castle in Kent, the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival is returning for a fourth year in 2019. Featuring a number of author events, talks, workshops and performances, the festival is carefully tailored to ensure there is something for people of all ages and interests. Alongside clay modelling workshops with Aardman Animations, who are marking 30 years of Wallace and Gromit, they’ll also be a chance to meet the illustrator of children’s classic Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, as well as life drawing and writing workshops for budding artists and writers.
When? 4-7 May
Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival
Marking its 12th year in 2019 and welcoming celebrity speakers and best-selling authors, the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival has a varied mix of workshops, panel discussions and other events. A programme of educational events runs alongside the festival, developed to inspire school children with help from authors, poets and illustrators. The festival’s first Writer’s Day will provide guidance for anyone looking to get work published, and while there will be events for families throughout the week, 5 May will be solely dedicated to children’s activities.
When? 27 April – 5 May
Hay Festival Wales
The annual Hay Festival in Wales has progressed significantly across the last three decades and features a host of events set against a glorious countryside backdrop on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. Bringing together readers and writers to share stories and ideas, including Nobel-Prize winners, novelists, historians, politicians and scientists, the festival explore the latest thinking and developments in the arts and sciences. Having welcomed key speakers including Bill Clinton, Jacqueline Wilson and Stephen Fry in the past, the line-up for 2019 includes 2018 Man Booker Prize Winner Anna Burns, author and journalist Leila Slimani, and comedian Jimmy Carr, among many others.
When? 23 May – 2 June
Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival
A selection of the best international and UK crime fiction writers will venture to the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate for the award-winning Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Held at Agatha Christie’s former haunt, the festival has achieved international acclaim for its celebration of crime writing and will welcome James Patterson, Jo Newsbo, Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin in 2019, alongside many other recognised crime fiction writers.
When? 18-21 July
Port Eliot Festival
Dubbed a celebration of ‘words, music, imagination, ideas, nature, food, fashion, flowers, laughter, exploration, fun and all that is good in the world’, the Port Eliot Festival in the parish of St Germans in Cornwall welcomes an eclectic mix of authors and others from the world of art and literature. The Fashion Foundation site has a distinct focus on fashion and art, with workshops, talks and exhibitions all taking place within the Walled Garden at Port Eliot, while award-winning BBC Newsnight and election journalist Emily Maitlis and stand-up comedian Shappi Khorsandi are among those on the bill for the 2019 festival. A huge range of outdoor activities also take place within the grounds.
When? 25-28 July
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Welcoming around 1,000 authors to a specially created tented village in the centre of Edinburgh, the Edinburgh International Book Festival includes more than 900 events for people of all ages. Nobel and Booker prize-winners are among those to feature on past line-ups, alongside sportsmen and women, illustrators, philosophers, scientists, poets, comic creators, biographers, economists and musicians. A full programme of events of the festival is revealed in June.
When? 10-26 August
Curious Arts Festival
Relocating in 2019 from the surroundings of Pylewell Park in the New Forest to Pippingford Park in East Sussex, the Curious Arts Festival is a family-friendly arts and music festival that plays host to plenty of well-known authors, comedians and musicians. Expect talks on challenging topics, an extensive set of workshops and experiences, and an exceptional programme of events for children. Those with tickets to Curious Arts will also be able to access Byline Festival on the same weekend, a festival that promotes independent journalism and free speech.
When? 23-26 August
London Literary Festival
The London Literary Festival returns to London’s South Bank Centre for its 13th year in October, bringing together writers, journalists and creative thinkers for 11 days of readings, talks, poetry and performance. The Southbank Centre’s longest running festival, Poetry International, will kick-start proceedings, having been founded by former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes in 1967. Past speakers at the festival have included author Phillip Pullman, US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy and actor Tom Hanks.
When? 17-27 October
Cheltenham Literature Festival
Established in 1949, the Cheltenham Literature Festival is the UK’s oldest festival of its type and welcomes more than 600 of the world’s writers, politicians, poets and actors to celebrate the written word. Around 500 events and workshops are packed into the 10-day festival, which also features Book It!, a series of events aimed specifically at families and young children.
When? 4-13 October