The Leeds Big Bookend, Rock Festival For Words, Is Back!


The Big Bookend Festival, Leeds’ very own Rock Festival for Words is back for a third year of festival fun with three programmes which hopefully will have something for everybody.

The programme for young people launches with a bang and a big party at Waterstones on Friday 6th June, 6.30pm with live music from Lucy and Jo. With award winning author Martyn Bedford and a performance by Escape Youth Theatre.

Amy Keen and Sufiya Ahmed will be at Waterstones on Saturday 7th June, 6.30pm discussing young women in fiction: Passions and Pressures, What pressures do young women face in today’s society?

There are workshops too! Transformation Tales with Aissa Gallie on Saturday 7th June, 1 pm at Leeds Church Institute will focus on journeys of transformation through the written word, for 12-15 year olds. Participants will each begin to write a short story telling the journey of their characters and worlds that inspire them.

So You Think You Know with Sarah Benwell on Sunday 8th June, 1 pm at Leeds Church Institute. In this workshop you’ll find new potential in old things. From images, characters, and formats to stories that you thought you knew, nothing will ever seem quite the same again, for 12-18 year olds.

For children, there will be a fun filled and action packed weekend programme featuring authors, poets and performers and a very large yurt for storytelling! All these events are taking place at the Leeds Church Institute, LS1 6DG.

There’s Captain Red Hand’s Adventures Workshop with Irene Lofthouse on Saturday 7th June at 12:30 pm, for 5-11 year olds. Join the crew and man the rigging as Irene Lofthouse tells the tale of Captain Red Hand, a story of sea monsters, mermaids, Barbary pirates, hidden treasure and Snapper the dog! Then heave ho and help to create the next exciting adventure of Captain Red Hand.

Join Lorraine Lee, Children’s Development Librarian for Multi Sensory Storytime on  Saturday 7th June at 12:30 pm. An interactive storytelling experience using Bag Books. Particularly suitable for children with additional needs and families of children with Autism, Down’s Syndrome or Sensory-processing Disorder and other special needs or challenges.

There’s poetry fun with David Harmer on Saturday 7th June at 2:30 pm, for 5 -11 year olds. Get ready to laugh out loud at David Harmer’s fast and fizzy poems!

You can Go Wild with Wild Thing and Emma Barnes on Sunday 8th June at 12 pm, for 7-11 year olds. Meet Wild Thing – the naughtiest little sister ever!

Are you a secret sleuth, then Mariella Mystery Investigates the Curse of the Pampered Poodle, is for you? Join Kate Pankhurst on Sunday 8th June at 1 pm for an afternoon of mystery, drawing, doodling, writing, weirdness and FUN, for 5-8 year olds.

Giggle along with Jason Beresford as he introduces My Best Mate Slug Boy and Other Superheroes. Jason will be reading from his book The Fabulous Four Fish Fingers, creating madness and mayhem with the children and even answering some questions! Be sure of lots of laughter, fun and entertainment on Sunday 8th June at 2 pm, for 7-9 year olds.

There will be stories galore in the Big Bookend’s Storytelling Yurt! For the whole festival weekend, we will be joined by authors and storytellers to entertain and delight you with stories, readings and songs. Come along and meet Kate Pankhurst, Daniel Ingram-Brown, Tell Me Another Storytellers, Christina Gabbitas, Emma Buckee, Jason Beresford, David Harmer, Chris Madeley, Githanda Githae and others.

There will be a big focus on our local communities in the Leeds Story Cycle which will express the voice of Leeds, captured at the historic moment of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France. Seven stories will be created by six diverse community groups, each telling the tale of a different character’s journey to see the race begin. Their stories will be revealed on Saturday 7th June, 7.30pm at Leeds Church Institute.

In the Big Bookend’s main programme there are authors, poets, musicians and performers. Food and drink, art, dementia, protests and radical Chapeltown all sit side by side. There are debates, discussions and panel events.

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery at the University of Leeds is hosting author Tom Steele who will be talking about Michael Sadler and the Leeds Arts Club, on  Tuesday 3rd June at 6 pm – 7 pm

Presented in partnership with Arts & Minds, Emma Healey, author of ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ will talk about her darkly riveting novel – a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging. This event will be at Waterstones, Albion Street on Wednesday 4th June at 7pm.

The main festival weekend, 7th – 8th June, kicks off at Leeds Central Library at 10.30am on Saturday with a Fairtrade food and drink mini- festival sponsored by Europe Direct. Participants can learn, taste and discover more behind the Fairtrade logo. There will be tastings, games and a quiz. Come and tickle your taste buds!

This is followed at 12.30pm at Leeds Central Library by the Index on Censorship Magazine Big Debate: Censorship and Propaganda in Wartime: where do we draw the line?

Panellists will debate whether it is acceptable for governments and others to withhold information from the public during a conflict; is it always unreasonable to not tell the public the whole truth? Does propaganda or censorship matter? Why and when should we care?

The panellists are Rachael Jolley, Editor of the Index on Censorship magazine; Chris Bond, Journalist and Feature Writer with the Yorkshire Post; Maj Ric Cole, Operations Officer at the MoD’s Joint Information Activities Group (JIAG); Dr. Chris Paterson, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Communications Studies at the University of Leeds.

The Index on Censorship debate is followed at 2.00pm by an event focussing on World War One. Acclaimed author Richard van Emden (The Quick and The Dead, Tommy’s Ark, Meeting the Enemy) and local historian Andrea Hetherington will look at the families left behind and how the First World War changed their lives forever. This is followed by a panel debate with national think tank British Future looking at the relevance of the Great War to our lives today. “What’s a centenary good for? Can the Centenary of the First World War bring us together?”

For crime fiction lovers, Frances Brody, Steve Mosby and Chris Nickson will be talking about the challenges of writing crime fiction set in three very different time periods, at 12pm at Leeds Central Library.

Leeds author, John Lake will be reading from his newly published Speed which concludes his Leeds 6 trilogy and talking about the origins and development of the series, at 12.30pm at Leeds Central Library. The session will include an audience Q&A. Leeds’ very own Mick McCann, author of How Leeds Changed the World, will be introducing John, asking questions, butting in and generally being annoying.

Max Farrar, author of The Struggle for ‘Community’ (2002) asks where is Chapeltown, and what does it do? Max will puncture some of the myths surrounding Chapeltown  and will speculate on what has happened to its radical past, at 2.30pm at Leeds Central Library.

Wes Brown, author of Shark and contributing editor at Dead Ink, hosts two book launches from first time authors, at Leeds Central Library. SJ Bradley will be in conversation with Wes Brown, for the book launch of her first novel, Brick Mother, at 2pm. Followed by Richard Smyth for the launch of his first novel, Wild Ink, at 3pm. Both authors were part of the Big Bookend’s LS13 anthology winners in 2013 and Richard Smyth was the outright winner.

On Sunday 8th June, 12pm, the Big Bookend festival’s main programme moves to the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Anthony Clavane’s non-fiction, Nick Quantrill’s fiction and Roger Domeneghetti’s history of the football media look at the ways Yorkshire’s sporting identity has been reflected in the arts and media in this panel discussion and audience Q&A. Leaping Off the Page: sport, literature and God’s Own County is  sponsored by Virtuoso Legal.

At 2pm, festival head line author, Alan Bennett closes the Big Bookend with the sold out, An Audience with Alan Bennett. The legendary Leeds playwright will be interviewed by artistic director, James Brining.

For tickets, prices and all the latest Big Bookend festival information visit our website and follow us on Twitter@bigbookend and

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