Literary festival Wimbledon BookFest commemorates 15 years on Wimbledon Common

Wimbledon BookFest is marking 15 years as a leading literary festival with two bumper multi-day gatherings on Wimbledon Common, writes Yann Tear.

The Sunrise Festival continues until June 15, with the Sunset Festival pencilled in for September 22-25.

It will have something for everyone, young and old, with serious current affairs mixed with fiction and works for children.

A star-studded line-up of speakers and guest appearances is planned.

It includes luminaries such as Booker Prize winner Ben Okri, novelist Julian Barnes, 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Abdulrazak Gurnah, former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and ex-BBC correspondent Martin Bell.

Also expected are royal biographer Tina Brown, broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, comedians Andy Hamilton and Phil Wang and the unmistakable Lenny Henry.

The BookFest was one of the few literary festivals to continue to safely deliver in-person events throughout the pandemic but will now be able to welcome people back in much larger numbers to enjoy its characteristic mix of high-profile speakers alongside diverse rising stars and local talent.

In addition to its two main event spaces, the site will include a bookshops tent for author signings and outdoors spaces where visitors can enjoy a coffee, light refreshments or a glass of wine.

On-site partners this year includes Festival bookseller Waterstones and official bar and cafe partner Catered by Justin, alongside exhibitors Côte Brasserie, Prospect Magazine and Freddie’s Flowers.

The Sunrise Festival comprises more than 50 events over seven days, with award-winning fiction, climate change, and the war in Ukraine being dominant themes.

June also sees the return of Wimbledon BookFest’s programme of events for schools – 5,000 students from South London and Surrey are expected to visit over five days for events with a stellar-line up of children’s writers, including Lenny Henry, Lemn Sissay, Elle McNicoll, Jean Menzies and Simon Farnaby.

Fiona Razvi, Wimbledon BookFest’s director, said: “Wimbledon BookFest is delighted to be marking its 15th anniversary as London’s leading literary festival.

“We aim to create the space to reflect and discuss the big issues of the day, as well as giving time out to enjoy and learn new things, and this is reflected in our programme for Sunrise.

“We’re also pleased to see the return of our full schools’ programme in June, for which we expect 5,000 students over five days. One hundred schools in London and Surrey now take part in our creative projects every year, an activity very much at the heart of the festival.”

The principal partner for the festival is the University of Roehampton.

Liam Hurley, who works for the university on such projects, said: “Wimbledon BookFest provides a wide range of opportunities through both the festival and its outreach work with local schools, on which we collaborate, to enhance educational opportunities for young people from all backgrounds.

“We look forward to supporting the festival for another summer and are grateful for the opportunities our partnership provides to Roehampton students through valuable work placement opportunities.”

Sunrise Festival tickets are now on general sale.

For further information, and fora full programme of events, visit wimbledonbookfest.org



Pictured: A previous Wimbledon Bookfest – Picture: Wimbledon Bookfest

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