Belfast Book Festival

A unique seven-day celebration of the book, the reader and the writer

What do celebrated Gavin and Stacey actor Larry Lamb, internationally-acclaimed author David Peace and Duke Special have in common? In just two weeks, they will all be part of the biggest celebration of letters in the city of Belfast’s long literary history.

Belfast Book Festival Coordinator Hugh Odling-Smee said, 'Getting Larry Lamb is a great coup. His book is so well written and far above the normal celebrity output that we're really looking forward to people spending an hour in his company.'

The 2011 Belfast Book Festival runs from June 13-19 and boasts over 60 events in numerous venues across the city. It is a packed programme that celebrates the dazzling diversity and accessibility of books. The paperback potboiler and the powerfully profound stand side by side in a festival that takes the printed word as the springboard to inspiration and adventure.

Readers, writers and lovers of books everywhere will find a glut of events in which to see, hear, discover and enjoy something relating to books, writers and writing.

Big name authors such as John Banville, Maurice Leitch, and Ciaran Carson rub shoulders in the festival programme with new works from Jo Baker and Lucy Caldwell and others. Famous performers such as Larry Lamb and Owen O’Neill are billed alongside wonderful poets like Martin Mooney, Leontia Flynn and Ben Maier.

'What's unique is that we've tried to make the festival represent Belfast,' Odling-Smee explains. 'We obviously can't include all the great writing available in the city, but the Wireless Mystery Theatre performing WR Rodgers The Return Room at the Linen Hall Library or The Belfast Blitz: The People's Story are events that could only take place here and represent something of the flavour of Belfast. We're attempting to bring the best from elsewhere to the Festival, and reflect the best from here too.'

The From Page to Screen series at Queen's Film Theatre revisits some great (and downright weird – Ulysses anyone?) films of literary origin, including Rebecca, To Kill a Mockingbird and Carol Reed’s classic Belfast-set ‘man on the run’ epic Odd Man Out, based on FL Green’s novel of the same name.

Poetry slams, discussions, master-classes, children’s events, creative writing classes, a re-enactment of Swift’s infamous Battle of the Books as well as Blackstaff Press’s 40th Birthday celebration offers just a further flavour of a programme which reads like the perfect literary recipe book.

The very brilliant Duke Special will close the Belfast Book Festival with a unique, literary-tinged performance; a fitting end to a week-long celebration of all things bookish, hard-backed and chapter-bound.

'We often use the cliché "something for everyone" when talking about such events – but in this case, I’m very excited because I think we’ve genuinely put together an excellent and accessible programme for all. People who love books of any kind will find an event, a reading, an exhibition, a writer or an activity that they will enjoy during the week of Festival,' Odling-Smee said.

'I think you should go to them all, but if I had to pick one, I'd go for Blackstaff Press 40th Birthday party on June 16. Blackstaff is a success story of local publishing in Northern Ireland and have published so many writers from the early years of the 1970s, with people like John Morrow and Robert Johnstone through to brilliant contemporary books such as Michael Faulkner's The Blue Cabin or Tim Brannigan's Where Are You Really From? The evening should be not be missed for anyone who loves books and writing in Northern Ireland.'

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:
'Belfast has long been famous as a city of readers and writers and the Belfast Book Festival perfectly captures the moods of invention and reflection and fun which only a book can excite. The Arts Council is delighted to support this Festival – reading is still a private and intimate joy, but when it goes "live", on song, outdoors or on stage, this is where public funding rightly comes into its own.'

For the full programme information check out CultureNorthernIreland's What's On guide.