I am Loraine Evans and I am the Programme Manager for the Family events at The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2017. Here’s my behind the scenes view of creating this year’s programme.
Over three months I met with over 30 leading children’s publishers and practitioners to select books, authors, illustrators and storytellers for the Festival. For toddlers to teenagers and across all genres I then curate events that I hope will entertain and inspire our young audiences to be readers, writers and creators themselves.
It’s rather like doing a massive jig-saw puzzle: sending out invites; plotting events on grids; working out venue sizes, and timings; and managing special requirements from crafting materials to cupcakes. Plus reading shed loads of books.
I am so excited to have lots of free bookish family fun at the Festival Village this year in The Den and The Woodland Trust Wild Wood. I’ve planned these activities so families of all ages can come along and experience the Festival whether they are going to a ticketed event or not. Amongst the activities you can create a mural with Lucy Cousins, listen to pop-up storytellers, celebrate 75 years of The Famous Five with a story trail make crazy pets and even join in a panto workshop (oh, yes you can!)
Around Town you’ll also find our first children’s trail which celebrates 30 years of Where’s Wally?
Here are my Top 10 picks for the 2017 Festival:
(Although it is really hard to choose!)
- Oi! Kes Gray and Jim Field – genius books from our Festival illustrator and wonderful writer
- The Awesome World of YA – all sorts of chat about YA fiction and a delicious cupcake
- Maz Evans – new children’s writer whose high energy events are mythological mayhem.
- The Explorer with Katherine Rundell – one of my favourite children’s writers
- Stories: Agents of Change – books can be our window on the world offering insight into places and people’s lives we wouldn’t ordinarily see. Loved working with Amnesty International on this event
- Emma Yarlett – wonderful author and illustrator – her books are so original and so much fun
- Matt Haig – for the first time his new Christmas book is published in time for the Festival
- Tongue Fu – brilliant family friendly version of the adult spoken word sensation
- Ali-A – a chance for local YouTube and gaming fans to meet one of the biggest and best gaming tubers out there – this will be absolutely huge with fans of Pokémon GO
- Unicorn in New York – my favourite animal goes to stage school – everybody loves unicorns!