Tickets for events at the nineteenth Swindon Festival of Literature – which starts on Monday 7 May – are being snapped up by the keenest of festival followers.
Already, one event, the Mindfulness Workshop on 11 May, has sold out and the popularity and up-take of tickets for Camila Batmanghellidjh, John Simpson, Mark Williams, Will Hutton, Melissa Benn, Claudia Hammond, Stuart Maconie, John ‘Boycie’ Challis, and the Swindon Think Slam! means there are very few tickets left.
Entries are also coming in fast for two live competitions, the nationally-popular Swindon Poetry Slam and the unique Swindon Think Slam – the selection of final contestants may have to be drawn from a hat.
As well as a good sprinkling of celebrity authors and hot competitions, this year’s festival programme bristles with exploratory and informative events.
For example, author Ian Skelly has spent two years working with HRH the Prince of Wales, above, to produce a book and film on the Prince’s visions.
Writer Molly Naylor survived the London underground terrorist bombings in 2005 and will present her unusual show, Whenever I Get Blown Up, I Think of You.
Resonating with Swindon’s railway past on 9 May at the Steam Museum, historians David Spaven and Julian Holland will give a fascinating illustrated talk based on their book Mapping the Railways, which charts the story of the railways, from early waggonways, through the steam era to today’s diesel and electric trains.
And if you want a laugh, there’s comedy too, with word-watching funny-man Alex Horne at the Arts Centre and a cutting edge Alternative Comedy Club at the Platform.
Alas, with timing to make an organiser’s heart sink, three authors have had to cancel their scheduled appearances. Best-selling rom-com novelist Jane Costello has had to pull out as result of being called up for jury service; Born Liars author Ian Leslie has been overwhelmed by family matters; and environmentalist
Mark Lynas has been summoned by the president of Korea. Festival organisers are hoping to find suitable replacements for all these authors. One is writer and Radio 4 broadcaster John Summers who will talk on 17 May about the art of complaining to famous people, and getting a laugh out of it.
The festival offers more than 50 events at venues across the town. Programmes are available at libraries, information and leisure centres, and www.swindonfestivalofliterature.co.uk
Well known speakers coming to the festival, from top, John Simpson, Lindsay Hilsom, Will Hutton and Camila Batmanghellidjh