As many of us are adjusting to a ‘new normal’ – working from home, limiting our movements and uniting as a community to combat Covid-19, it will come as no surprise to many of you to hear that the pandemic has affected our ability to produce this year’s Bradford Literature Festival.

Bradford Literature Festival has always been, and will always be, about bringing people together; celebrating the culture, stories and shared history that unite us as a worldwide community, whilst serving the talented, diverse and resilient people that make up our local community here in Bradford. The Coronavirus pandemic will change many things, but it will not change that.

At this stage, I can announce that Bradford Literature Festival won’t take place in its usual format in 2020. Of course, this was not the outcome that we had hoped for. Our team looked forward to bringing you an outstanding programme of events featuring some of the most inspiring literary names from around the world. We sincerely hope that by July the situation will have improved, but even if it has, we are simply unable to spend the next three months creating the infrastructure required to deliver BLF as planned.

However, rather than simply down tools, the BLF team is exploring how we can connect you to writers, artists and great literature, bringing the spirit of the festival alive online. We’re also looking ahead to our 2020 Words in the Winter, which we hope will be able to go ahead as planned. We’ll be in touch with more information on that as it becomes available.

As always, our thanks go to our fantastic Partners and Sponsors whose faith and support make our work possible. We’d also like to thank the hundreds of artists who were looking forward to taking part in the festival this summer, and to our incredibly devoted staff, technicians and volunteers who make up the extended BLF family. We are hugely grateful for your support and understanding during these uncertain times.

This may feel like a bleak and frightening time, but as an organisation with community at its core, we are filled with warmth and hope by the many stories we hear each day of people helping one another and finding new and creative ways to stay connected. Words are what bind us together, whether that is a story or a poem, a text message or a video call. Now more than ever we see the importance of language, of communication and of connection.

In the words of a great literary hero, Albus Dumbledore:

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”

We look forward to welcoming you all to Bradford Literature Festival again soon. In the meantime, stay safe, stay home, keep talking and, most of all, keep reading.

Syima Aslam

Director, Bradford Literature Festival