BRADFORD Literature Festival, an annual event which is usually held in Bradford city centre, is now underway - albeit virtually - and is welcoming a host of famous faces from across the world of literature.

The festival’s first ‘digital edition’ began on Friday, and it will host ten days of free events until 5 July.

Over the weekend, it featured talks and in-conversation events with a range of guests, with more big names set to feature in Zoom video conferences and talks over the coming days, as part of the festival.

Today will see Anthony Anaxagorou - British-born Cypriot award-winning poet, fiction writer, essayist and publisher - host an online seminar discussing ‘identity and memory’, in conjunction with the independent charity Aspen UK.

Beginning at 6pm, it is accessible - free of charge - via the festival website at, just as all other events also are.

Tomorrow will feature a conversation between Tahmima Anam, Bangladeshi-born British anthropologist and novelist, and Scottish crime writer, Ian Rankin, who have been brought together by the Royal Society of Literature.

Other highlights coming up include virtual talks with actor Christopher Eccleston and writer Lemn Sissay, alongside interactive workshops with poet Rose Condo and academic Dr. Omid Safi.

The Bradford Literature Festival Schools & Education Programme is also moving online, with a collection of events aimed at schools and families.

Split into four distinct ‘days’ of activity, it is funded by the Pears Foundation, Bradford Opportunity Area, the Emerald Foundation and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

More than 30 new films and interactive workshops have been created, featuring children’s authors, storytellers and poets, focussing on National Curriculum objectives, whilst also being fun and entertaining, acknowledging the need for engaging activities for children and young people, both in the classroom and at home.

The events are available for children aged five to 18, and welcome speakers such as poet John Hegley, author Gail Carson Levine, writer and illustrator Johnny Duddle, Bradford-based thriller writer A A Dhand and spoken word poet Pete the Temp.

Events are also accompanied by resource packs for teachers and parents, specially created by Bradford Literature Festival to encourage engagement with the programme.

Syima Aslam, Festival Director, said: “While it is sad to not be able to meet our audiences and artists in person this year, I am delighted that we have been able to translate the unique spirit of Bradford Literature Festival onto a digital platform.

“The change in form and scale has not changed who we are - you will still find voices and topics that are as remarkable and diverse as Bradford itself, and as always, we’re keen to ensure that our events are as easy to access as possible.

“Our schools programme is always a central part of the festival, and this year we are particularly proud of the online programme of events and the supporting resources that we have created, which we hope will be helpful to both parents and teachers.

“Doing things digitally this year has been a completely different process. It’s been an interesting couple of months, while we’ve worked out what to do and how to do it. But it is important that we keep the festival spirit blazing online, since we can’t do it in City Park or in other venues around Bradford this year.

“So far, it has felt slightly surreal, but it has also been a tremendously interesting and exciting time. It has been very different to what we normally do, and has also been a learning curve.

“While the festival is digital this year, it still retains the unique characteristics that make it, and it still reflects Bradford and the diversity which is intrinsic to the spirit of the festival.

“Normally at this point, we’d be going into schools, doing assemblies and workshops. That is very much central to Bradford Literature Festival and at the core of our ethos, so it’s really important the Schools & Education Programme has been digitalised, and that we have created comprehensive resources for teachers and parents.

“The programme is vital, for young people in particular and for those who may not be able to engage with books or reading on a regular basis in their home environment. Our purpose is to make those things accessible. I believe education has the power to change people’s lives, and literacy is the foundation stone for that, so I’m really pleased and proud, it’s a privilege.

“I look forward to extending our traditional welcome to the live festival again soon, and in the meantime, welcome to Bradford Literature Festival digital.”