THIS year’s Yorkshire Festival of Story is taking to the “digital stage” for 80 events throughout August. Organisers have set out to offer audiences the chance to use stories to escape, to gain new perspectives and get active.

Celebrating the best voices from Yorkshire and beyond, the festival – normally held in Settle – will feature novelist Joanne Harris MBE as guest director. It ​aims to celebrate the best voices from Yorkshire and beyond.

Audiences are being invited to have breakfast with Radio 4 Woman’s Hour presenter ​Dame Jenni Murray​. Amanda Owen, the Yorkshire Shepherdess​, will deliver a talk live from her farm and Booker-Prize winner, ​Ben Okri OBE​, will be introducing his new collection of short-stories.

This year marks 10 years since Settle Stories started producing a festival in one of the most rural parts of the UK, and the global pandemic has not stopped the charity from delivering its most ambitious project to date.

Across multiple online platforms, the festival will aim to reach larger audiences than ever before with its free programme. Attendees will be invited to learn new skills in storytelling, chocolate making and other workshops. Contemporary theatre has been reimagined to fit the digital stage as the festival offers new perspectives on today’s world.

Yorkshire’s rich heritage will be celebrated as the Brontë Society explores the “fierce brilliance” of Anne Bronte in her bicentenary year. The festival will also mark the 150th anniversary of the Ribblehead Viaduct with new artist commissions, interactive events and talks. Family activities will run throughout the festival. Children join Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize winner, Kevin Crossley-Holland, for folktales. Families will help Get Lost and Found rediscover the magic of Roald Dahl’s words, and Rotherham’s Grimm & Co will get children creative with writing workshops. Joanne Harris said: “As festival guest director, I’m so excited to share this diverse programme, including my own events, and invite you to have fun with us this August.” Joanne Harris, born in Barnsley in 1964, was a teacher for 15 years, during the next word during which time she published three novels, including Chocolat (1999).

Since then she has written 15 more novels, two novellas, a Dr Who novella, guest episodes for the game Zombies, Run, the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a musical and three cookbooks.

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