Celebrate World Art Day with the UK's top literature and art festivals

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.

Insiders/Outsiders

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

Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill: Masterpieces from Horace Walpole’s Collection

Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill: Masterpieces from Horace Walpole’s Collection

8 new museums and exhibitions you won’t want to miss

You’re never far from a first-rate museum or art gallery in Britain, many of which are free to visit. Take a look at these hot new openings in 2018 and be the first to see some of the best new exhibitions and galleries in the world.

 

If you like – art and design

You’ll loveDundee’s V&A, Dundee, Scotland

The V&A – one of London’s best museums – opens a new outpost of the museum in the Scottish city of Dundee this autumn, located 1.5 hours from Edinburgh. Ultra-modern and sleek in design, and architect Kengo Kuma’s first British commission, the museum launches with the spectacular Ocean Liners: Speed & Style exhibition, which will display never-before-seen objects and highlights from the ships that revolutionised travel in the mid-19th to the late 20th centuries. The museum will also showcase world-class touring exhibitions from the V&A, as well as the best of Scottish design.

Open: 15 September

 

If you like – sculpture

You’ll loveYorkshire Sculpture Park’s new visitor centre, Yorkshire, north England

Be one of the first to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s (YSP) £4million, environmentally friendly visitor centre later this year, which will bring a gallery space exhibiting 20th- and 21st-century art, a restaurant and shop to this leading centre of modern and contemporary sculpture. Set in the 18th-century Bretton Hall Estate in West Yorkshire, 30 minutes from Leeds, it’s also the only place in the world where you can see Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man in its entirety as well as a significant collection of sculpture, including bronzes by Henry Moore.

Open: Summer 2018

 

If you like – great feats of engineering

You’ll love – Being Brunel, Bristol, south-west England

New to Bristol this year is Being Brunel, a museum celebrating the life and work of engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the celebrated Victorian engineer whose famous designs include SS Great Britain, itself moored next to the new museum, and the city’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. It explores everything from the great designs themselves, his celebrity, his ambition to become a leader in engineering, and his home life. Families will love the interactive exhibits, which include talking portraits of his family and friends.

Open: Now

 

If you like – classic ceramics

You’ll love – the new-look Museum of Royal Worcester, Worcestershire, west England

Receiving a £1.7million refurbishment means the museum of the famed porcelain makers, located an hour from Birmingham, will become a living history of the factory, telling the stories of the people that worked there, as well as exhibiting collections that date back to 1751 when the company was formed.

Open: May 2018

 

If you like – maritime history

You’ll love – the new galleries at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Taking a lead role in Cook 250 – the 250th anniversary celebrations of Captain Cook’s first expedition from London to the Pacific and Australia (on 26 August) – the National Maritime Museum is opening four new permanent galleries in 2018 in its East Wing. The new ‘Endeavour Galleries’ will each be dedicated to different themes: Pacific Encounters, Polar Worlds, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers, and Sea Things.
Open: Mid-2018 TBC

 

If you like – Welsh history

You’ll love – the new galleries at St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff, Wales

Later this year, new galleries will open at the open-air history museum around St Fagans Castle to display objects – many never shown before – from the National Museum Wales’ collections. Part of a significant renovation project, there will also be new buildings across the site, one – Gweithdy, a sustainable building boasting a café and a range of craft workshops – that is now open.

Open: Now, and throughout 2018

 

If you like – WWII history

You’ll love – the new galleries at D-Day Story, Portsmouth, south England

Personal stories of D-Day are told through the museum’s collections and audio-visual presentations in the refurbished galleries of the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth, two hours south of London. The new displays feature accounts of the Battle of Normandy and the museum has also put together guides on how you can discover the story of your family members involved in D-Day.

Open: Now

 

If you like – world-class art

You’ll love – the revamped Royal Academy, London

Marking its 250th anniversary in 2018, the Royal Academy will reveal its new look this summer. It will showcase more major exhibitions focusing on living artists and architects, new free art displays, and the institution’s two buildings – Burlington House on Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens – will be linked for the first time with dedicated spaces for exhibitions and displays across the site, including a new Architecture Studio and cafés. There’ll also be an increase in the debates, discussions and workshops the RA is famed for.

Open: May 2018

 

You might also like:

  • In autumn 2018 the British Museum in London will open the Albukhary Foundation Galleries of the Islamic world and a new Japan gallery.
  • The RAF Museum’s RAF Centenary Programme is transforming its London site as part of the Royal Air Force’s centenary celebrations in 2018 with new permanent exhibitions, opening in the summer, and the Now & the Future exhibit area will tell the story of the RAF from its earliest years in the First World War to its global role today.
  • The new-look Mackintosh Tearooms, Glasgow, Scotland, a £10million project preserving the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Tea Rooms Building, is scheduled for completion in June, and a shop next door will be transformed into an education and interpretative centre.
  • Westminster Abbey, London, will welcome a new gallery and museum this summer. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries in the Abbey’s medieval triforium, runs 70 ft above the Abbey and has not been seen by the public for more than 700 years. Expect to see treasures from the Abbey’s 1,000-year history.
  • Discover more than 3,000 objects from around the world in south London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens new World Gallery, celebrating what it means to be human. The new £4.6million gallery includes works of art and fun things to touch, play with and smell.

Brighton Festival

Brighton Festival