2022 Programme Highlights Revealed

After two years of hybrid and digital events, the North of England’s leading literature festival – Bradford Literature Festival (BLF) – today announces its 2022 programme highlights featuring world-class authors, academics, spiritual leaders, and exciting new literary talent at live, in-person events.

An unmissable event in the UK cultural calendar, the festival, which takes place from 24 June until 3 July 2022, will feature over 450 events for adults and children across 10 days, encompassing the best of literature, theatre, cultural discussions, film screenings, professional workshops and historical tours, marrying the popular with the intellectual, the widely read with the innovative, while chasing down obscurities and shedding new light on the familiar. There will also be discussions on the challenges of today, from what we do about Russia to the energy crisis, from the rise of the far right in politics to the future of television.

Headliners at this year’s festival include footballing legend and commentator John Barnes, who will be discussing his new book The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism; renowned comedian and writer Dom Joly will share his insight into the Middle East, religion, friendship, and growing old disgracefully, while iconic cook and television presenter Delia Smith will explore the nature of what it means to be human in her new book You Matter. Ed Balls and Alistair Campbell will feature in the World Affairs and Politics strand whilst journalist and presenter Robert Peston will be talking about his explosive thriller, The Whistleblower. Stuart Fielden and Barrie McDermott, the greatest rugby league rivals of them all, will be talking with Ralph Rimmer about why their rivalry ran so deep. TV’s Salvage Hunter Drew Pritchard and international fashion designer Giles Deacon will join the festival for an in-conversation about their shared love of William Morris.

Leading a series of events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Partition of India, historian William Dalrymple will discuss his acclaimed quartet of books chronicling the extraordinary story of the rise and fall of the East India Company.

This year’s festival will also host a series of talks dedicated to Paul Weller on 3 July including a live podcast recording of Desperately Seeking Paul to coincide with the Modfather’s concert in the Piece Hall in Halifax that day. Meanwhile Reverend Richard Coles will be in conversation with former Gogglebox star Reverend Kate Bottley as he introduces his debut crime thriller, Murder Before Evensong.

Festival favourite Lemn Sissay has curated a series of in-conversation events with Alex Wheatle, Sally Bayley and Antique Roadshow expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan. He will also be showcasing his first children’s book, Don’t Ask the Dragon, alongside the book’s illustrator, Greg Stobbs. Chef and owner of Darjeeling Express Asma Khan will be discussing her divine new book, Ammu, a tribute to the simple home-cooking of her mother’s kitchen in Calcutta.

Founder of the Everyday Sexism Project Laura Bates and Feminist Giant founder Mona Eltahawy will be examining the institutional and systemic misogyny engrained in our society. Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, the founding director of Al-Maqasid, will deliver a lecture on ‘Al-Ghazali: The Book of Contemplation’, while philosopher A C Grayling will consider the three most pressing issues of our time – climate change, technology, and justice.

This year’s TS Elliot Poetry Prize winner Joelle Taylor and writer, poet, and multidisciplinary artist Malika Booker will share an intimate conversation with a focus on their work uplifting diverse and marginalised voices. Award-winning poet and BLF regular Anthony Anaxagorou returns to give an insight into how to get your poetry published while for aspiring writers looking for inspiration, author Nikesh Shukla will be leading workshops on character development and dialogue writing.

As part of the annual Brontë Heritage Weekend international fashion designer Giles Deacon, along with Sean Clayton of luxury linen company Peter Reed, suppliers of linen to the Queen, will be talking about their collaboration inspired by Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

The festival also makes its return to Bradford’s iconic City Park, which celebrates its ten-year anniversary this year. The outdoor venue is the home of BLF’s annual Literature Unlocked: Family Fun Days, which feature themed performances, craft workshops and children’s film screenings, all of which are free for everyone to attend across the two weekends of the festival. The themes for this year are Superheroes, Fantastical Fairy Tales, Myths, Mummies, and Monsters, and Magical Mayhem.

This year also sees the return of live in-person schools’ events for both primary and secondary schools. Bookings for the Schools and Education Programme can be made here.

The festival will continue to provide free tickets for those living on benefits, in social housing, refugees and asylum seekers, young people, and those who need it most.

Syima Aslam MBE, co-founder and director of Bradford Literature Festival, said:

“We are delighted to be returning this year with a full programme of in-person events, bringing Bradford Literature Festival back into all the physical spaces for which it was conceived. We are looking forward to welcoming our loyal and enthusiastic audiences back to our exciting line-up of live events. We can’t wait to fill the city’s iconic venues with inspiring and thought-provoking conversation. We are proud to deliver a programme which celebrates an extraordinary city in all its diversity, promoting empathy through dialogue, and lifting the spirits of our audiences.”

Tickets for the full programme for Bradford Literature Festival 2022 will go on sale on 4 May.

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Save the date – BLF takes place 24 June to 3 July.