City book festival opens its latest chapter

Belfast-based author Rachael Kelly, Chair of the Crescent Arts Centre, Deepa Mann-Kler, and Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council, Damian Smyth Belfast-based author Rachael Kelly, Chair of the Crescent Arts Centre, Deepa Mann-Kler, and Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council, Damian Smyth
By Brónach Ní Thuama

RUN by the Crescent Arts Centre and funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council, the Belfast Book Festival offers yet another incredible programme for all ages and tastes.
Now a firm fixture on the literary circuit, the Belfast Book Festival is getting ready to showcase a unique and magical experience in venues across the city from June 9-19.
With over 100 live events and workshops, the festival will feature a wide range of writers, authors, poets, critics, musicians, films and film-makers, activists, artists and actors from home and abroad.
Notable highlights for this year include The Jam drummer Rick Buckler who will discuss his book ‘That’s Entertainment: My Life in the Jam’ at the Black Box; John Challis (Only Fools and Horses) joins Nuala McKeever at the Crescent Arts Centre to discuss his life in showbusiness as well as his books ‘Being Boycie’ and ‘Reggie: A Stag at Bay’; award-winning journalist David Aaronovitch will discuss his memoir ‘Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists’ at Crescent Arts Centre; financial and economics expert Paul Mason will be in conversation with Martina Devlin about the state of the world economy, Brexit and much more; leading contemporary novelist Dame Fiona Kidman talks to Cathy Brown about her book on the 1930s aviator icon aka ‘Garbo of the Skies’ Jean Batten; award-winning writer Kate Tempest talks to Jan Carson about her debut novel ‘The Bricks that Built the Houses’; and maverick film-maker Alex Cox will discuss his book for aspiring filmmakers at the Crescent Arts Centre.
Poetry lovers will be in their element with the wide choice of events available. Red Pill presents award-winning poetry trailblazers Abby Oliveira, Erin Fornoff and Alice McCullough at the Crescent Arts Centre; Templar Poet (I&II) with Dawn Wood, Tom Weir, Oliver Comins and Maggie O’Dwyer; over at the Sunflower Bar The Lifeboat with Sarah Howe, Kayo Chingonyi and Cal Doyle; take a poetry tour of Ireland with Kevin Quinn; hear Three Voices from award-winning poets Eleanor Hooker, Mel McMahon and Trevor Conway; and not forgetting the ever-popular ‘open mic’ of the Festival Poetry Slam.
As ever, children and young people play an important part in the Belfast Book Festival. With this in mind the programme features a wide range of educational workshops and community outreach activities. These include Young Scribblers with Sharon Dempsey, silk screen printing with Kat St Angelo, and Stuart Reid will be talking Books, Bums, Bogies and Big Bottom Burps plus loads more. Also this year, and supported by Belfast City Council, is the annual Family Fun Day with a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party theme and featuring the Fine and Dandy Market. There will be something for children of all ages from storytelling, food and drink, entertainment, art workshops, a range of children’s authors and of course – loads and loads of books. And best of all, like most of the family events: it’s free!
Deepa Mann-Kler, Chair of the Crescent Arts Centre, said: “As ever we are very grateful to our key funders Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and our key sponsors Standard Utilities, Nicholson Bass and Europa Hotel. Our programme this year focuses on the ethos that books and authors matter and should be cherished. We look forward to welcoming everyone to the festival and its unique atmosphere.”
Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council, Damian Smyth, said: “The Belfast Book Festival opens up the incredible worlds of literature and the imagination by allowing the best international and local writers to present their work to audiences in the most intimate and personable of settings. The Arts Council’s support as principal funder reflects of our confidence in this festival to extend the appeal of all literary genres so that everyone, from the most tentative to the most seasoned of readers, has the opportunity to experience the full and inimitable pleasure of books.”
Festival Director, Keith Acheson, added: “Yet again we reveal another packed programme of events which we hope will appeal to everyone – no matter what age or level of interest in literature. Whilst we are delighted to welcome returning supporters we are keen to open up to those who have never participated in our festival before and encourage them to join us in trying something new.”

For further details on the Belfast Book Festival including the full festival programme visit or follow on facebook – Belfastbookfestival or Twitter @belfastbookfest #belfastbook