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Our top 'can't-miss' Literary Festivals in Norfolk

Didn't get Glastonbury tickets? Don't like mud!? Do not fear - our handpick of Norfolk's top literary festivals is here...

On any given evening in Norwich you might stumble across an open mic night at Take 5, live-literature at the Arts Centre, national and international writers at WCN Dragon Hall, a literary quiz at the Millennium library or perhaps a book launch at the much-loved Book Hive. This is what makes a city literary – the people who love writing, reading and books, who support home-grown writers as much as international Noble prize winners.

Dive head first into Norwich's story-telling community with our handy introduction to some of the county's top literary festivals...


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Ok, so we’ve picked one of our own first…but with good reason! Each May, Writers’ Centre Norwich programmes City of Literature for Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Enjoy a whirlwind of writers and events – consciously celebrating Norwich’s radical past.  This is the county of Boudica, Thomas Paine, Harriet Martineau and many more progressive thinkers and at this literary festival we focus on how writing can inspire change. You can listen to podcasts from May 2016 on the Writers’ Centre website including; Steve Silberman on autism and Mervyn King on the global crash.

Podcast links:


A festival to inspire young minds with a love of books. It includes creative writing workshops, author events and a whole host of events with partner organisations in the city. The Festival of Literature for Young people is hosted by UEA and designed for 11-18 year olds. Now in its fourth year, highlights of FLY Festival 2016 include the Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, David Almond, Carnegie 2015 winner Tanya Landman and this year’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winner, Lisa Williamson.

Find out more:

HOLT FESTIVAL, 23 – 31 JULY 2016

Holt Festival is nestled in this picturesque market town, not too far from the coast. The festival bursts into life once a year, bringing a range of music, drama, dance, and a host of unmissable writers. This year they welcome Edinburgh fringe veteran Dr Phil Hammond (‘One of the most entertainingly subversive people on the planet – The Guardian’), delivering his show ‘How to Survive the NHS and Help the NHS to survive’. Also on the line-up are Joanna Trollope, Kate Adie and multi-award winning comedian Mark Watson.

Find out more:


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The UK’s boldest and bloodiest crime writing festival returns this September with a killer line-up including Ian Rankin, Sophie Hannah, Peter James, Charlie Higson, Denise Mina and many more. Be sure to stay until Sunday morning for the Bloody Brunch on the Dragon Hall lawn – four sensational writers plus Bloody Marys and food. The festival partners are Dead Good Books (Penguin Random House’s Crime Writing Community, UEA and Writers’ Centre Norwich) and check out the Maid’s Head hotel for some festival season ticket deals.

Find out more:


Literary Norwich McEwan credit David Kirkham UEA

Held in autumn and spring, the UEA literary festivals attract some of the biggest names in writing. The tried and tasted format of reading, Q&A, book signing (and free wine!) is always popular and the huge lecture theatre frequently sells out. There are good discounts to be had on season tickets, the autumn 2016 programme will be announced in August.

Find out more:


For those based further to the west, fear not! Our literary festivities spread far and wide across the county. King’s Lynn runs two literary festivals a year, one for fiction in March and one for poetry at the end of September. The festival has been running since 1984 with the guiding principle of presenting some of the best contemporary writers in a friendly and informal setting. The line-up for this autumn includes Wendy Cope, Matthew Caley, Christopher James, Joseph Lluis Aguillo and Heidi Williamson.

Find out more:

Do share any we’ve missed from across the fine county of Norfolk…

Guest post written by Alice Kent of Writers' Centre Norwich