By Aalia Khan

The city of Bradford is set to launch a unique literature festival. Taking place during the weekend of  26th to 28th September, the ground-breaking festival brings together 60 renowned authors, speakers and artists for a stimulating blend of 25 eclectic events, designed to reflect the cultural sensibilities of Bradford’s diverse demographic.

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Celebrating the spoken word and writing in its broadest sense, through an assortment of art forms, the Bradford Literature Festival will showcase the city’s historical, literary, cultural and faith heritage and act as a bridge between different communities, by offering a neutral space for dialogue on themes that are particularly pertinent to Bradford.

For instance, the inaugural annual Sacred Poetry event showcasing Bradford’s entire faithscape, takes place this year in the historic Bradford Synagogue in Manningham. The setting is particularly poignant, given the impact on Bradford of current tensions in the Middle East. In light of the recent rhetoric in Bradford around Israel, where better to hold a panel discussion to examine The Roots of the Conflict in the Middle East. The panel, which includes Bradford East MP David Ward, will analyse the historical fault lines, examine the emerging power bases and consider their potential impact on the turbulent situation in the Middle East.

In the shadow of the referendum vote, Bradford is the perfect place to host a discussion on The Meaning of Identity in Contemporary Britain. Panellists include acclaimed poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, Romany filmmaker Damian Le Bas and comedian Shazia Mirza.

Children are a big focus for the festival with nearly a third of the launch weekend programming devoted to children’s events, from author talks to workshops focusing on digital literacy and safety. For adults, as well as author events, there are exclusive master classes with industry experts including Writing for Stage and Screen with BBC Writers room, Creative Crime Writing with successful crime authors Penny Hancock and Kate Rhodes, as well as Fashion Blogging in association with the London College of Fashion.

The festival also offers special heritage events to bring Bradford’s historical backdrop to life. Bronte enthusiast Christa Ackroyd leads a heritage tourexploring the social history that shaped the works of Britain’s most famous literary family. Meanwhile, author Mark Davisrelates the gruesome yet compulsively fascinating stories of real life 19th century murders in the Victorian courtroom where the murderers were actually tried.

Syima Aslam, Co-Director of Bradford Literature Festival said, “We are delighted to unveil the programme for the launch weekend of Bradford Literature Festival. The depth and breadth of the festival programme is a first, not only for Bradford but also the UK. This is an exciting time for Bradford and the festival is a key component of both the cultural and economic regeneration of the city.”

Irna Qureshi, Festival Co-Director added, “The festival has been programmed to encourage cohesiveness and to promote literacy as well as cultural understanding. We want to celebrate Bradford’s literary heritage and the diversity of the many communities that make up this wonderful city”.


The full programme itinerary can be found on:

Tickets for the Bradford Literature Festival launch weekend are now available from or from festival partners, Waterstones at The Wool Exchange in Bradford.