Barnsley Libraries first-ever Barnsley Book Festival is set to take place in various locations across the borough from today, 2nd February, to 23rd March 2024.

The fully packed programme will feature internationally known authors and poets from Barnsley, such as Ian McMillan, Andrew McMillan and Yorkshire Businesswoman ambassador Milly Johnson, powerhouses like Matt Abbott and Toria Garbutt, storytellers, artists and speakers, all celebrating literature and our shared love for reading.

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

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 festival 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
  • The Happiest Ever After by Millie Johnson book launch and conversation at Barnsley Town Hall – Thursday 15 February
  • 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.

To celebrate the LGBTQ+ History Month, the festival has several events showcasing diversity and creativity. These include 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’.

Andrew McMillan, poet, 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.

“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.

The Barnsley Book Festival will showcase some of the best local and national literature and art. Barnsley Libraries remain committed to transforming their offer and making art and culture more accessible to our local communities.”

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.

The majority of events are free, but to help manage audience numbers, booking is required, so please book in advance to avoid disappointment.