Durham Book Festival 2021: a retrospective look at the festivals return to live events

Maud Webster takes a look at the 2021 festival, back live for the first time since 2019.

Maud Webster
21st October 2021
Credit: Durham Book Festival, via. Facebook
Durham’s Book Festival returned again this year, with a lineup which included an array of performance, talks, Q&As, readings and tours, with headliners including Lemn Sissay, Richard Osman, Pat Barker, Val McDermid, Leïla Slimani, Fiona Hill, and Ed Balls.

The festival took a blended approach to delivery of events both within the historic city and live-streamed online, providing a welcomed transition away from the festival’s wholly online approach last year (due to obvious circumstances). In our interview with Grace Keane, programme manager at the Durham Book Festival from last year, we asked if she could see online events becoming incorporated into the future of book festivals, even post COVID-19; her response was:

“This is one of the reasons we want to continue to incorporate digital events going forward. As well as increasing accessibility, on the whole it allows us to engage with audiences all around the world, and to create events that are a little different than the usual festival author talk. We’re so excited to hopefully be back in Durham for real next year – we’ve definitely missed the interaction and sense of community in the city – but we’re also keen to keep a blend of digital events going forward, even when we’re on the other side of the pandemic.”

The North East also plays host to other literary festivals, including Hexham’s Book Festival (April), Berwick Literary Festival (Autumn) and our very own Newcastle Poetry Festival, which takes place every year in spring.

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AUTHOR: Maud Webster
she/they | third year architecture & urban planning student @ newcastle | co-head of culture for the 21/22 academic year

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