THIS summer’s Bradford Literature Festival proved to be the most popular yet, attracting 18,000 more visitors than the 2016 event.

More than 50,000 people took part in the 10-day festival, which ran from June 30 to July 9 in venues across the city centre, with almost two thirds of those involved being 18 and under.

The 2016 festival had 32,000 visitors, which was three times the number who took part in the inaugural event in 2015.

More than 300 events were held as part of the 2017 festival, from audiences with top authors and writers to family performance events in City Park. There were also celebrations to mark 20 years since the publication of the first Harry Potter book and 40 years of the Star Wars saga.

Authors attending included Jeanette Winterson, Linton Kwesi-Johnson, Jackie Kaye and Joanna Trollope. There was also an event celebrating Rita, Sue and Bob Too writer Andrea Dunbar.

A large educational programme saw more than 12,000 young people taking part in festival events through their schools.

The attendance figures show that the festival is one of the most diverse in the UK, with 49 per cent of those involved coming from an ethnic minority background.

Earlier this year it was announced that the festival, sponsored by Provident Financial Group, had been awarded Arts Council funding until 2022.

Festival founder and director Syima Aslam said: “BLF is about making sure that access to arts and culture is not limited to those that can afford it, those who have had the privilege of an education or those who come from a particular ethnic background.

“Bradford is the perfect place to hold a literature festival because the diversity of its communities mean that we can explore literature and art from around the world, but equally it means that we must focus on ensuring that everyone in Bradford has equal access to our events. That means keeping our ticket prices low, holding free events for families and working with Bradford schools to make sure that no child is left out.

“BLF is an example of how Bradford is leading the way in this area, we hope that as the festival grows, people from around the UK and internationally, will come to recognise all that Bradford has to offer.”


Next year’s festival will run from June 29 to July 8. Although the programme is still in development, the 2018 festival will see the launch of the highly anticipated Bronte Stones Project, which will see stones carved with poetry celebrating the literary family placed at locations in the district significant to the siblings, starting at their birthplace in Thornton.

There will also be an extended schools programme which hopes to reach more than 15,000 students.

This year’s festival featured a comic convention based at the University of Bradford, but next year this will be massively expanded.