The Huddersfield Literature Festival (HLF) has been selected as a finalist in the prestigious Welcome to Yorkshire White Rose Awards for the third time in five years.

The Festival has been shortlisted in the Arts & Culture category of the annual awards, a competitive group covering a wide range of organisations, from festivals, arts centres and theatres to stately homes and sculpture parks.

This is the third time that HLF has been selected as a finalist in the past five years, having previously been shortlisted in 2016 and 2017.

Digital festival response to Covid

HLF2020 was scheduled to run from 19-29 March with more than 50 live events in venues across Huddersfield, but was forced to change tack in response to the Covid outbreak. Six pre-Festival events were able to take place several weeks before lockdown, including the JB Priestley lecture at the University of Huddersfield delivered by 2019 Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo. However, the majority were replaced by online content, such as recorded author readings, written Q&As, stories, articles and creative writing advice – all set up at a few days’ notice.

The Creative Mind special project

The Festival also worked with three local partners – bibliotherapy project Words in Mind, Woven Festival and One World craft group of refugees and asylum seekers – to create an animated film and banner as part of a special project, The Creative Mind. This explored the links between creativity and mental wellbeing, and featured contributions from Kit de Waal, Joanne Harris, Jackie Kay, Lisa Luxx, Nikesh Shukla and Festival Patron Lemn Sissay.

Festival Director Michelle Hodgson said: “We are thrilled to be White Rose Award finalists for the third time, especially in such a challenging year. As a Yorkshire-based Festival, it’s particularly rewarding to receive recognition among the many excellent organisations in the region.”

She continued: “While our digital content allowed us to reach a wider online audience than previous years, a recent survey of our mailing list has shown that the primary interest continues to be for live events and we look forward to bringing these back in 2021 with appropriate health and safety measures in place. We are also working with several local organisations to generate additional income for some exciting new partnership projects and are inviting interest for new Festival sponsors to work with us.”

The next Huddersfield Literature Festival will take place from 18-28 March 2021, with events announced from the end of this year: