THIS year’s Bradford Literature Festival will kick off tomorrow - heralding the start of 10 days of book themed celebrations, discussions and activities.

The 2017 festival will be the largest yet, with over 300 events, featuring over 400 authors and guests, taking place across the city centre.

Among the packed programme are events celebrating the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, and the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter book series, the Bronte sisters, fairy tale themed family events and discussions on some of the most pressing political issues of the day.

Sponsored by the Provident Financial Group, the event has grown each year since it was set up in 2015. In that first year 9,446 people attended. The number leaped to 31,000 last year, and organisers hope there will be another big rise in visitors at this year’s festival.

City Park will host the festival “hub” - a huge inflatable library just outside City Hall where people can buy tickets for the myriad of events, as well as enjoy a coffee and browse for books.


Free family events will also take place on the four weekend days of the festival. Saturday will see a superhero day, complete with live performances and film screenings, while Sunday will see the park turned into a fairy tale kingdom.

A mass teddy bears picnic takes place in City Park on Saturday July 8, with a performance inspired by Goldilocks and the Three Bears. ON Sunday, the final day of the festival, Harry Potter fans will be able to celebrate the wizarding hero by watching live performances and taking part in a wand making workshop.

For local schools there will be an schools event called Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales which will welcome award-winning authors Lari Don, Vivian French and Richard O’Neill. Hundreds of pupils from schools across the district are expected to take part.

There will also be a strong programme of sports themed events.


In association with The Cricketer Magazine, a trio of events on Saturday will bring together writers and commentators such as Stuart Rayner, Tim Wigmore and Boyd Tonkin. They will discuss the phenomenon of T20, explore the illustrious history of cricket in Yorkshire, and in the year that sees the 70th anniversary of the partition of India, consider whether cricket is in fact the greatest export of the British Empire.

After the release of their best-selling book Yorkshire Rows: Four Mums in a Boat the record breaking rowers Helen Butters, Frances Davies and Niki Doeg join the festival on Thursday July 6 to discuss their treacherous 3000-mile trip across the Atlantic. In 2016 the three women, along with friend Jeanette Benaddi, took part in the gruelling Whisky Atlantic Challenge and became the oldest all-female crew to row across an ocean.

Other themes being discussed at the festival include the legacy of the British Empire, feminism, LGBT representation, Doctor Who, King Arthur and modern Islam.

And 2017 will also see the launch of a dedicated comics and Manga weekend at the University of Bradford, running this Saturday and Sunday and featuring top comic artists and writers.

Syima Aslam, one of the festival organisers, said: “We spend the entire year creating the festival and to finally have all the events we’ve been talking about, planning and agonizing over, come to life is an absolutely amazing feeling.

“We have got the most fantastic line up this year – some of the people we’ve programmed like Jeanette Winterson, Ben Okri, Germain Greer, Joanna Trollope I have been reading their books for a long time.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to be able to bring them to Bradford to share their voices and showcase their work here. I’m also really excited about our strands – we have some outstanding poetry events and the Empire strand is full of exceptional speakers.

“I’ve just seen the festival hub go up which is always a great feeling; this space is a symbol of everything the festival stands for, a space that’s open to everyone, where people can come together, mingle, chat and get to know each other as they browse the amazing books that are part of our programme.


“This year there are more than 400 speakers taking part in around 300 events, I hope lots of people will come along and get involved in the wonderful world of words.”