Barnsley Libraries’ inaugural Barnsley Book Festival is off to a great start, with events taking place throughout the borough until 23rd March 2024.

The jam-packed programme features internationally renowned authors and poets from Barnsley, such as Ian McMillan, Andrew McMillan and Milly Johnson, powerhouses like Matt Abbott and Toria Garbutt, storytellers, artists and speakers who are coming together to celebrate a shared love for reading.

As part of the programme, themes ranging from politics, gaming, local history, neurodiversity, LGBTQ+, romance, adventure and many more will be explored.

Barnsley Book Festival
Punk-poet Toria Garbutt will host various events throughout the festival, including a open mic night and a writing workshop.

During the festival, Barnsley Libraries will be hosting many family activities for everyone to get involved, as well as showcasing artists who have been commissioned to create new work. Some of the highlights include:

  • Andrew McMillan in conversation with Helen Mort and the launch of his debut novel Pity at Library @ the Lightbox – Sat 17 Feb
  • A special screening of The Shining at Parkway Cinema followed by a Q&A session with Craig Oldham – Tuesday 5 March
  • Conversation with novelist Catherine Curzon at Cannon Hall Museum on her latest novel Inside the World of Bridgerton – Saturday 16 March
  • Conversation with the country’s leading military historian Richard Van Emden on his new book Volunteers: The Incredible Story of Kitchener’s Army Through Soldiers’ and Civilians’ Own Words – Saturday 23 March

The festival also offers a range of free activities for children and young people during the February half-term, including land art with James Brunt at Hoyland Library, creating story dioramas with Amazelab at Roundhouse and Cudworth Libraries, captivating storytelling with Richard O’Neill at Goldthorpe Library, puppet-making and song creating workshop with McShane and Shaw at the Barnsley Civic, and Poetic Adventures with Dommy B at Library @ the Lightbox, a workshop that combines poetry, storytelling and tae kwon-do.

“I hope this is the first of many such festivals to come, putting Barnsley at the very centre of literary culture, as we’ve always known it to be!”

To celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month, which coincides with the run of the festival, there will be several events showcasing diversity and creativity including Reading with Pride, a panel event featuring authors behind LGBTQIA+ books, A Reyt Queer Do in Darfield with poet Tom Juniper, and a launch of Andrew McMillan’s debut novel ‘Pity’.

Poet Andrew McMilan said: “It’s a dream to have such an inclusive and dynamic book festival in Barnsley.

“From local heroes like Geoff Hattersley to new commissions exploring the queer legacy of the town, I hope this is the first of many such festivals to come, putting Barnsley at the very centre of literary culture, as we’ve always known it to be!”

Councillor Wendy Cain, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health and Communities, said: “We are delighted to be able to bring Barnsley Book Festival to our residents and visitors with an ambitious and diverse programme.

Barnsley Book Festival
Andrew McMillan, who will launch his debut novel ‘Pity’ during the festival – image Sophie Davidson.

“The festival has something for everyone, whether you’re a book lover, story maker, or just curious about the world of stories, and we hope that the festival will inspire, challenge and entertain the audiences.”

Barnsley Book Festival is supported using public funding by Arts Council England as part of Barnsley Libraries’ National Portfolio Organisation activity, with funding secured over the next three years to bring a whole range of exciting arts and cultural opportunities to Libraries across the borough.

Take a look at the full Barnsley Book Festival 2024 programme here. To avoid disappointment, be sure to book on to any of the events that spark your interest.