Ten things to do at tenth Henley Literary Festival
MONDAY (September 26) sees the start of the 10th Henley Literary Festival. Since its inception in
MONDAY (September 26) sees the start of the 10th Henley Literary Festival. Since its inception in 2007 the festival has grown from a weekend of events to a full week — with more than 18,000 tickets sold last year.
To help navigate the 150 talks, Q&As and performances for children and adults, festival programming director Tom Ryan and his team have picked out 10 things to do at this year’s event, which runs until Sunday, October 2.
1. Attend a world premiere
Each year big names do their first events around their much-anticipated books and this year is no exception. Jeremy Paxman, Jo Malone, cricketer Jonathan Trott and the Archbishop of York John Sentamu all come to Henley for special pre-publication events. And Archers star Eleanor Bron presents the first-ever staged reading of her new comic play Penultimatum with a cast including satirist John Bird.
2. Have a drink at Henley’s newest wine bar
Next Friday and Saturday evening (September 30/October 1), the festival marquee in Falaise Square will be turned into the Laithwaite’s Wine Lounge, complete with music courtesy of Andrew Tucker of Reading Road record shop In The Groove.
3. Take a chance on the day
Although tickets are available in advance for more than 100 events, some — including Jenni Murray, David Essex, Alan Johnson and Susan Calman — have long since been sold out. But more often than not a small amount of tickets are available on the door, so give it a try — and if you don’t get in there is bound to be something else interesting going on.
4. Have fun with all the family
As well as 40 events for children of all ages, this year’s festival has several events aimed at the whole family. See Nadiya Hussain bake and chat on the Saturday morning (October 1) at Christ Church, learn about wildlife with One Show nature expert Mike Dilger, celebrate 100 years of Roald Dahl and hear from The Tiger Who Came to Tea creator Judith Kerr, making her Henley debut aged 93.
5. Celebrate the best local talent
From Elizabeth Hazeldine and Valerie Alasia’s talks on Henley’s history to the locally based novelist Amanda Jennings and Jane Stubbs, royal expert Ingrid Seward, historian Michael Smith and T’Pau star Carol Decker in conversation with Dunsden-based BBC presenter Sophie Van Brugen, the festival features the best of Henley alongside national and international names.
6. Visit historic Fawley Court
Closed to the public for 175 years, next weekend (September 30 to October 2) Fawley Court is the venue for talks by Michael Heseltine, Lucy Worsley, James Naughtie, Country Life editor Clive Aslet and former Doctor Who Peter Davison among others.
7. Talk politics during party conference season
As always the festival has speakers from across the political spectrum, from current MPs Margaret Hodge and Liam Byrne to veterans David Owen, Ken Livingstone and Malcolm Rifkind — while David Laws and Miriam Gonzalez Durantez bring their personal experience of the coalition government.
8. Get your face painted for free
Face-painting is just one of a series of free activities for children at the Buster Books Corner in the Baillie Gifford Festival Hub in Falaise Square over the weekend of the festival, alongside storytellings and mummy-making.
9. Take a trip down the Thames
On Monday (September 26) the festival has a day of events aboard the Hobbs of Henley vessel The Hibernia, including the ever-popular “river readings” and nature writer William Thomson in conversation about his new Book of Tides.
10. Learn from top writers
On Sunday, October 2, Henley’s Hotel du Vin is the venue for a series of intimate workshop-style events: award-winning writer Irenosen Okojie on short stories, Sunday Times bestseller Rachel Hore on her route to getting published, and Cherry Menlove on how to live more peacefully.
Also among the 150 events taking place at venues across Henley next week are Q&As with authors Robert Harris, Val McDermid, Jonathan Coe and Kate Summerscale, Maisy and Kipper storytellings and speakers including Terry Waite, Tom Parker-Bowles, Bel Mooney and Derek Fowlds.
Tickets and more information are available online via the website www.henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk and in person at the box office in Falaise Square from tomorrow (Saturday) until next Sunday (October 2) from 9am to 6pm.