This year’s star-studded Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival kicks off on Wednesday 19 October 2016 with 6 days of music, comedy, readings, children’s shows, interviews, talks, workshops, and more.
A host of well-known authors and speakers will perform at the festival, which runs until the evening of Monday 24 October 2016.
The packed line-up, which is full of exciting talent, aims to excite audiences of all ages and tastes with more than 30 events over 17 venues.
Wednesday’s highlights include Benet Brandreth exploring his debut novel, The Spy of Venice, and an introduction to philosophy from Amy Ramsay.
On Thursday comedian and writer Mark Steel heads to Middleton Arena to tell the hilarious and enthralling true story of the search for his real mum. Over at Hopwood Hall College Theatre there’s Guinness World Record-holding beatboxer and acclaimed spoken word artist, Testament – setting Shakespeare’s darkest verse to the flashing lights of the 21st century.
Friday’s highlights include afternoon tea at Rochdale Town Hall with award-winning historical novelist Elizabeth Chadwick and talks by Chocolat author Joanne Harris MBE and Four Weddings actor Simon Callow at Number One Riverside. Lauren Laverne presents her BBC Radio 6 music and chat show from Rochdale Central Library at Number One Riverside from 10am – 1pm, with guests include singer/songwriter Billie Marten – last year nominated for the BBC Sound of 2016 Award.
Over the weekend and into Monday, there’s a programme of Roald Dahl-themed shows for children in Rochdale town centre including, on Saturday, a Giant Peach inside The Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre, with a magical show every hour from 11am to 3.30pm, and at Littleborough Library, madcap children’s author Adam Perrott presents a fun, interactive session for all the family.
On Saturday, Lesley Ann-Jones chats about her recently published book Hero, looking back at the life of her idol, David Bowie. At Touchstones, theatre company Goat and Monkey present two immersive performances of ‘The Devil Speaks True’ – an innovative production of Macbeth as told by Banquo, with cutting-edge sound design and special effects.
Internationally acclaimed crime writers Mark Billingham and John Connolly are in conversation, and writer Nikesh Shukla discusses his new book The Good Immigrant, in which he gathers together emerging British Black, Asian and minority ethnic writers, poets, journalists and artists to confront issues of race and immigration.
On Saturday evening Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former chief press secretary and director of communications, delves into his recently-published critically-acclaimed diaries. On Sunday evening comedian and TV presenter Jenny Eclair presents her acclaimed ‘How to Be a Middle Aged Woman – Without Going Insane’ stand-up show at Middleton Arena, The Baum pub in Rochdale town centre hosts a Theatre Writing Showcase and the Church of St Mary in the Baum hosts Amani Creatives, with a free show incorporating African music, spoken word and dance.
With Monday being the first day of the half term break, there’s lots more for children, 2 performances of ‘Hannah Butterfields 21,000 Miles Of Rail’ one- woman show at M6 Theatre and at 7pm don’t miss the festival finale – ‘Volumes’ a unique performance featuring poet extraordinaire Ian McMillan alongside his son, the award winning poet, Andrew McMillan and two local choirs in the spectacular setting of the Church of St Mary in the Baum.
Until the 29 October 2016 children can follow the ‘Who Writes Like Roald Dahl?’ trail around Rochdale town centre, with a certificate for everyone who completes the challenge. Download the children’s programme.
Some events, including Ann Cleeves, Amy Ramsay, Maxine Warner and Owen Jones are already sold-out.
The festival celebrates and promotes the Maskew Collection of classic literature and philosophy at Rochdale Central Library, encouraging people to engage in reading and thinking. It will include events at venues in Rochdale town centre and borough-wide. It is funded through the generosity of Annie and Frank Maskew, a Rochdale couple who shared a passion for reading and thinking, who originally met in Rochdale Library. They left a sum of money to be used on resources and events related to literature, and philosophy to ensure classic works are available for future generations.