Literature Festivals and Book Fairs in the UK 2019

Book fairs, literature festivals and storytelling festivals are an amazing opportunity to promote your own book, network with other authors, publishers, translators, meet authors whose work you admire (remember that the handshake trumps the photo) and discover new favourite reads.

Europe has a variety of international literary festivals and book fairs to pick from. To anyone reading in English, the UK is the place where one can happily spend the whole spring-summer going from one festival to another and visiting book fairs and storytelling festivals back to back.

With the book-season getting a kickstart next week with the London Book Fair mentioning a few upcoming book and publishing events that I hope to participate over the coming spring-summer.

1. London Book Fair

When: 12-14 March 2019

London Book Fair is arguably the best-known book trade fair in Europe. With more than 25,000 publishing professionals who arrive in London to learn and network this is the event that kicks off the book-year.

What to look forward to when visiting the London Book Fair

birdeye view to the London Book Fair 2018

  • One of the most popular features for authors is the authors headquarter (Authors HQ) an area for writers to network and participate in workshops. The HQ is popular among the self-publishing community.
  • Three-minute pitch to publishers – elevator speech for an aspiring author. The author gets three minutes to introduce themselves and their work.  Signup is currently open (Feb. 2019).
  • This year LBF focuses Market Focus Country is Indonesia. Absolutely excited to learn more about the literature from the country that is usually more related to a beach holiday.

2. CrimeFest, Bristol UK

When: 9-12 May 2019

CrimeFest is an international crime fiction convention taking place in Bristol, UK. Festival with the slogan “where the pen is bloodier than the sword!” it does sound like a delicious treat to anyone loving a good murder mystery.

What to look forward to when visiting the CrimeFest Bristol

CrimeFest Logo 2019

  • There are around forty author panels with more than a hundred participating authors, a crime writing workshop.
  • Speed-dating of aspiring writer and agents. Authors get 10 minutes to pitch their book to a group of literary agents. Unfortunately, but perhaps understandably, participating is for an extra charge (55£ added ticket). According to CrimeFest web page, this year’s literary agents you would pitch yourself and your book to are Camilla Bolton, Hellie Ogden and Hannah Sheppard.
  • 2019 featured guest author is Robert Thorogood creator of Death in Paradise.
  • Rumour has it that Estonian best-known crime-fiction author Indrek Hargla may also be visiting the festival.

3. Hay-on-Wye Literature Festival, Wales

When: 23 May – 2 June 2019

If book fairs are mostly meant for people who deal with books for the living (authors, publishers, literary agents, people interested in book-rights, etc.) then literature festivals are a place where “normal people” are absolutely welcome.

Hay-on-Wye is the flagship of literary events in the UK. Even people who don’t live for books and/or from books make appearances in the ten days that the festival comes to the small book-town in Wales.

Hay on Wye Festival Wales. Credit to Joseph Albert Hainey

What to look forward to when visiting the Hay Literature Festival

  • Ten days of free festival grounds with bazaar and selection of events. Access to festival grounds is free but for events, separate tickets starting from a few euros per piece can be bought.
  • Hay-on-Wye festival is also known for a lineup of celebrity speakers and authors (among the last years festival speakers, for example, was Margaret Attwood the author of the Handmaid’s Tale).
  • The festival is family friendly, meaning that there are children’s areas with places to make a mess and be loud. (hopefully a little further away from a reading area. Nevertheless, sounds fun, how do I sign up?

4. Edinburgh International Book Festival

When: 10-26 August 2019

When the weather gets warmer (fingers crossed) and you start missing mountains, it’s time to head up towards the north. Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland hosts the Edinburg International Book Festival, the place to be for anybody who loves a good story.

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2018. Photo by Robin Mair

What to look forward to when visiting the Edinburgh Book Festival:

  • 16 days of book obsession on the village green. A specially created tented in the heart of Edinburgh.
  • Hundreds of events, workshops, debates and masterclasses for grown-ups and children. With the aim to get people learning and thinking, I salute their worthy cause.

5. Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Edinburgh

When: 18-31 October 2019

When the leaves are changing colour, winds start howling and evening arrives early again, it’s nice to gather around the fire for the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in Edinburg. While not always obviously connected with books, great storytelling is the base for any good … well … story.  This festival is about

Music with storytelling

What to look forward to when visiting the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in Edinburgh

  • Live storytelling performances, workshops, talks, panel discussions and events centred around traditional storytelling.
  • Plenty of informal and improvised elements involved as suitable for a fine tradition of live storytelling.
  • There will be music and singing, both traditionally intertwined with oral storytelling tradition.
  • A large part of the festival is also broadcast over the internet. If for some crazy reason you can’t be there, you don’t have to miss out.

Let me know what festivals you pan to visit this year? If we are on the same ones, let’s meet up!


Many towns claim to be literary capital or a book town. It made me think why that is and I came up with a list of possible reasons why the book festivals are popular events to organize and I came up with a few pretty solid reasons why you should organize a book festival in your area:

  • Readers and writers are (supposed to be) a quiet introvert people so there is less trouble with noise and neighbours complaints.
  • How many reading groups do you know that end up with someone drunkenly jumping to a fountain? No, seriously I want to know, and the contact as well. For research purposes of course.
  • Readers spend most of their money on books and are less likely to take up all the parking spots as we may not have a car.
  • Cheaper to organize kids events. With good books around who have time to have kids?
  • Saving on restoring the festival grounds. Having a bunch of reading hippies sitting on the grass and talking over books is kinder to the grass.
  • And obviously because book people, reading and writing are all totally cool.

Did I miss something? Let me know why do you think literary festivals and book events totally rock!

Bengal cat with books