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The seven best literary festivals


No Glastonbury? No matter, this year’s literary festivals are the highlight of our alfresco cultural calendar. Stylist rounds up the seven best

1. Words in the Park Festival, London 18-20 May, wayswithwords.co.uk

This brand new event stars PD James, Alain de Botton and Andrew Marr alongside journalists and politicians at Opera Holland Park.

Highlight: Head to a talk by Gavin Pretor-Pinney – author of bestselling whimsical textbook The Cloudspotter’s Guide – on Saturday 19 May, then lie in the sunshine and cloudspot yourself.

Stay at : The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, 10 minutes from the site, offers special rates (call quoting ‘Ways With Words’) and is the perfect balance of relaxed glamour and modern luxury decor. Doubles from £215, royalgardenhotel.co.uk

Insider's pick: "Canopies of trees, fine words, inspiring conversation. Does life get any more civilised? Catch Sandi Toksvig and John McCarthy, or P D James chatting with old mate Penelope Lively. I'd also recommend a stay at the tranquil Petersham Hotel in Richmond." Bettany Huges - historian and author

2. Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales 31 May-10 June, hayfestival.com

The ‘Woodstock of the mind’ is a stalwart on the literary festival scene and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with Simon Callow and Hilary Mantel joining a long and varied line-up. Tim Minchin opens the festival.

Highlight: A cast Q&A and preview screening of the bound-to-bebrilliant Veep, HBO’s new US-based political comedy from those behind The Thick Of It, on Friday 1 June.

Stay at: An hour’s drive from the festival is gorgeous Brecon bolthole Fronlas, famed for its eco-friendly Edwardian townhouse elegance. Doubles from £70, fronlas.com

Insider's pick: "I am very excited to see Harry Belafonte, a man who I have admired for many years - he was a guest star on the Muppet Show and I've loved him ever since. I also had the pleasure of teaching Tim Minchin to snowboard earlier this year - he is quite disgustingly talented, funny, nice, clever and my goodness he knows his way round a piano." Marcus Brigstocke - comedian

3. Stoke Newington Literary Festival, London 1-3 June, stokenewington literaryfestival.com

This small-scale yet thoughtprovoking festival in north London will pack a big literary punch, with performers including Danny Wallace and John Cooper Clarke.

Highlight: Richard Boon, the world’s coolest librarian, will be hosting a Juke Box Fury event, on Saturday 2 June, with music writers James Brown and Pat Long playing their favourite tracks.

Stay at: The Rose & Crown on Stoke Newington’s Church Street is a pub with amazing luxury rooms hidden upstairs. Doubles from £110, roseandcrownn16.co.uk

Insider's pick: "I'll be in the front row for photographer Dennis Morris who will be talking to George Alagiah and showing his stunning new book 'Growing Up Black', about growing up in Hackney the 60s and 70s. He toured with Bob Marley & The Pistols and The Slits too." Miriam Elia - comedian and author

4. Latitude, Henham Park, Suffolk 12-15 July, latitudefestival.co.uk

Poetry corners become arts arenas at this festival where Iain Banks and Marcus Brigstocke hold the fort for literary lovers, while Lana Del Ray, Bon Iver and Laura Marling play on the main music stage.

Highlight: Head to Stylist’s very own literary salon on Thursday 12 July. Full details will be announced soon at stylist.co.uk or @StylistMagazine.

Stay at: Sutherland House is one of the oldest buildings in Southwold, dating back to 1455. Rooms are packed with period features including clawfoot bathtubs and original fireplaces. Doubles from £140, sutherlandhouse.co.uk

5. Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall 19-22 July, porteliotfestival.com

Revel in the arty atmosphere at this ultra-cool boutique festival where Stylist favourites India Knight and Kate Summerscale will do readings.

Highlight: The festival’s pop-up ‘wardrobe department’, where Britain’s designers such as Mary Katrantzou and Louise Gray dream up clothes, accessories and make-up for festival goers.

Stay at: Try the quaint Buttervilla, on the site, which serves produce from its garden. Doubles from £75, butter villa.com

6. Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate 19-22 July, harrogatefestival. org.uk

A must for crime fiction fans and entrants to Stylist’s crime fiction writing competition. This intimate festival attracts big names such as Ian Rankin and Peter James.

Highlight: Crime fiction heavyweight Jo Nesbø in conversation with Radio 4's Mark Lawson, on Sunday 22 July, and Dragon’s Pen – where you can pitch to four publishing professionals – on Thursday 19 July.

Stay at: The Old Swan Hotel, where Agatha Christie was found suffering from amnesia in 1926. Doubles from £100, classiclodges.co.uk

Insider's pick: "Nobody will want to miss Kate Mosse and Ian Rankin in late-night conversation. Strong opinions will be shared on stage and in the bar and you'd be sorry to miss out on the fun of the Saturday night quiz!" Mark Billingham - author

7. Voewood Festival, High Kelling, Norfolk 24-27 August, voewood festival.com

The gardens of historic Voewood House as impressive as the line-up here – with Kate Mosse, Esther Freud and Martin Parr among others. There’s also theatre, ghost stories and darning lessons.

Highlight: Brindisa’s pop-up Spanish restaurant serves traditional tapas and unbeatable paella throughout the festival.

Stay at: The White Horse in the fishing village of Blakeney, 15 minutes from Voewood. Make sure you try the fresh lobster and crab at the restaurant. Doubles from £80, blakeneywhitehorse.co.uk

Let us know your favourite festivals - literary or otherwise - on Twitter or in the comments section, below



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