2018 promises an exciting new chapter for Cambridge Literary Festival

PUBLISHED: 13:46 04 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:46 04 January 2018

Cambridge Winter Literary Festival, Robert Webb in the Union Chamber with Helen Lewis of the New Statesman . Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge Winter Literary Festival, Robert Webb in the Union Chamber with Helen Lewis of the New Statesman . Picture: Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

Christmas celebrations started early this year as Cambridge Literary Festival closed their bumper year of events in December with a packed Union Chamber where former foreign secretary David Miliband discussed his new book Rescue: Refugees and the Political Crisis of our Time.

Cambridge Winter Literary Festival, Robert Webb in the Union Chamber  . Picture: Keith HeppellCambridge Winter Literary Festival, Robert Webb in the Union Chamber . Picture: Keith Heppell

This highly-anticipated event came hot on the heels of the festival’s popular winter weekend (November 24-26) where record numbers braved the chilly November weather to be warmed by words, wisdom and wit. Nearly 8,000 seats were filled as book lovers queued around the block to hear from some of today’s best writers, thinkers and speakers. Many events sold out, including comedian Sarah Millican, Peep Show’s Robert Webb, former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, The Thick of It creator Aramando Iannucci, Newsnight’s Evan Davis, human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti and Germaine Greer, leading intellectual AC Grayling, literary biographer Claire Tomalin, playwright and novelist Michael Frayn and much-loved award-winning novelist Ali Smith.

In April, the festival celebrated its annual six-day spring festival (April 18-23) to the tune of Charles Dickens’ ‘best of times, worst of times’. Exploring the tumultuous times of Trump and Brexit with the likes of as BBC world affairs correspondent John Simpson, Labour MP Harriet Harman, Indian essayist Pankaj Mishra and the ever-popular New Statesman Debate offering insight into the current global political climate. The festival also offered some gentle antidotes through events such as heart-warming Hygge with Louisa Thomsen-Brits, perfume- Jo Malone conjuring up fragrant cocktails on stage and sage fashion advice from former Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman.

Children were delighted with another vibrant series of children’s events hosted by much-loved author Jacqueline Wilson and illustrator Nick Sharratt, and even a Harry Potter party and Star Wars celebration.

In addition, this year saw the launch of the new Wimpole History Festival in July in partnership with the National Trust: a three-day outdoor extravaganza which brought history to life through author talks, living history, falconry, sword school and a pop-up food and craft village. Nearly 11,000 people soaked up the atmosphere and basked in the summer sun against the magnificent backdrop of the Wimpole estate in between attending events from world-leading historians including BBC’s Six Wives star Lucy Worsley, BBC’s Black and British David Olusoga and broadcaster Andrew Marr.

Cambridge Winter Literary Festival, Claire Tomalin, A Life of My Own in the Palmerston Room, St John's College. Picture: Keith HeppellCambridge Winter Literary Festival, Claire Tomalin, A Life of My Own in the Palmerston Room, St John's College. Picture: Keith Heppell

As well as staging three major festivals, Cambridge Literary Festival also hosted noteable one-off events throughout the year with Pulitzer Prize-winning Canadian novelist Richard Ford, 2017 Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Arundhati Roy and feminist phenomenon Rebecca Solnit. Hosting more than 150 events, with 200 authors and 25,000 seats sold, 2017 was, without a doubt, a busy year for Cambridge Literary Festival. But the event shows no sign of slowing down. Whether it is comedy or current affairs, poetry or politics, every year the festival brings authors and audiences together for shared enjoyment, the exchange of ideas and a forum for debate, escapism and inspiration and next year looks as exciting as ever.

This month the multi-prize winning Australian novelist Peter Carey visits on January 16 and early names for the spring festival (April 7-15) include comedian and mindfulness guru Ruby Wax, former children’s laureate Chris Riddell, prize-winning novelists Alan Hollinghurst and Rose Tremain, and historian Lucy Worsley with her latest book for children. Plans are well under way for the second Wimpole History Festival (June 22-24) and winter festival (November 25-26).

If you make any new year’s resolutions make sure one is to head over to Cambridge Literary Festival. You won’t be disappointed.

For more details, to join the mailing list or to sign up as one of the growing team of volunteers, visit cambridgeliteraryfestival.com.

DIARY DATES

After a bumper 2017, Cambridge Literary Festival is gearing up for an exciting 2018. Here is some early news from the festival and some dates to put in your diary.

■ Join award winning Australian author Peter Carey to celebrate his latest masterpiece, A Long Way From Home, on January 16.

■ Cambridge Literary Festival’s spring festival will be held from April 7-15, 2018.

■ Join Irish novelist, playwright, journalist, critic and poet Colm Tóibín on June 1.

■ Wimpole History Festival will be held from June 22-24.

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