Festival Roundup 2016

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Thank you to all who attended events during this year’s Durham Book Festival, we hope you enjoyed your experience.

It was wonderful to finish the festival on Saturday with a series of sold-out events featuring Philip Pullman, Bill Bryson and our Festival Laureate, Sinéad Morrissey. We think Philip Pullman’s book-signing queue was one of the longest in festival history and it was great to see hundreds of you welcoming the much-loved Bill Bryson back to Durham again.

Other highlights from this year’s festival programme included a rare insight into the historic Durham Crown Court, led by HH Judge Prince; Durham’s own Pat Barker talking about her latest novel Noonday; an evening with ‘Queen of Shops’, Mary Portas discussing her memoir, Shop Girl; and a celebration of the Bowes Museum’s YSL exhibition with presenter Lauren Laverne and fashion editor Laura Craik. We launched the festival with the announcement of the Gordon Burn Prize, which was won by Dan Davies for his book In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile. The prize is fast becoming an integral part of the book festival programme and you can read more about it here.

Our major festival commission for 2015, Notes from Underground, united award-winning poet Sean O’Brien with composer Agustín Fernández, their darkly moving song-cycle, inspired by WH Auden and his love of the North Pennines, was performed by Royal Northern Sinfonia and choir Voices of Hope at the Gala Theatre. You can read more about Sean and Agustín’s artistic inspiration in an article featured in the Guardian by Sean O’Brien.

The festival’s family-friendly touring production of Man on the Moon, adapted from the picture book by Simon Bartram, has been visiting libraries, community centres and schools all over County Durham and beyond throughout October.

New Writing North’s Cuckoo Young Writers served as brilliant reviewers-in-residence for many festival events. You can read their take on events ranging from Andy Miller’s hilarious ‘Read y’self Fitter’ to feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez in conversation at our festival blog. Renowned blogger Simon Savidge of Savidge Reads live-blogged throughout our opening festival weekend. You can find out what he got up to here.

We hope to see you next year!

Rebecca Wilkie (Festival Programme Manager)