Jackie Buxton
Jackie Buxton

Newark Book Festival is being held at various venues in and around the town centre this weekend with the theme Adventures And Heroes.

The festival’s artistic director, Sara Bullimore, said the programme featured a full weekend of events with a host of top authors, as well as plenty of free activities for children.

“Literature festivals are great places to meet new people and share a similar passion of books and reading,” she said.

Sara, who grew up in Newark, took on the role of project manager in February building on the strengths from two previous events run by Mr Paul Trickett.

“The time frame for creating the festival this year was extremely limited, which means I still have so many ideas, ambitions and plans of how to keep growing the festival and taking it forward,” Sara said.

The not-for-profit festival will use venues including the castle, Town Hall, library and Market Place as well as cafés.

The event has the financial support of the Arts Council of England, Newark and Sherwood District Council, Newark Town Council, and local businesses.

In costume are The Big Dippers, who will be among the entertainment at Newark Book Festival this weekend
In costume are The Big Dippers, who will be among the entertainment at Newark Book Festival this weekend

Children’s illustrator Mark A. Chambers has produced limited-edition postcards for the festival. He said that as he usually illustrated or wrote children’s picture books it was great to be asked to come up with the postcards.

“I wanted to make sure the image was fun yet still included various aspects of Newark that were recognisable,” he said.

“I am pleased to hear that they have been well received so far.”

A Literature Quarter will be held in Newark Market Place on both days, with stalls featuring local authors, children’s writers and pop-up stories.

The smallest theatre in the world will perform Hound Of The Baskervilles on Saturday, and there will be the chance to meet Dr Rhyme and the Big Friendly Giant from Circo Rum Ba Ba.

Wally The Wizard will be joining river cruises from behind the castle on Saturday morning. Tickets cost £1.50 for children, adults are free, with booking recommended.  

There will be free drop-in sessions at Millgate Community Centre on Saturday. In the morning those attending can make a keepsake book and in the afternoon they can create Mr Men-style characters with community artist Kerry O’Brien.

'I hope everyone has a fabulous time'

The Town Hall will be used for a series of talks by authors for which tickets are required.

They start at 10am on Saturday with a guest panel, including Dr Andrew Harrison, of the D. H. Lawrence Research Centre, discussing some of the county’s literary heroes, including Lord Byron, Lawrence, Helen Cresswell and Alan Sillitoe.

The final talk of the day will be by international best seller Matt Haig, who grew up in Newark, who will be discussing his latest book.

On Sunday entertainment in the Market Place will include chalk art and two seaside-themed performances by Rhubarb Theatre.

Newark Castle will be used for a range of free activities to mark 75 years of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, including face- painting, treasure hunts, street theatre and a make and play area with Newark and Sherwood Play Support.

Ticketed talks will be held in the Tudor Hall at the National Civil War Centre and Newark Town Hall. The speakers include Nottinghamshire authors and Natasha Pulley, author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, who will talk about her new novel, The Bedlam Stacks.          

The Secret Garden Café on Stodman Street will host a vintage high tea, with Rowan Coleman and Rebecca Mascull on Sunday afternoon, which costs £15, and a free rhymes and reading session on Saturday afternoon.

“I hope the festival is well-supported,” Sara said.

“The more audiences we have the more we can work to secure extra funding and develop the festival, including working with schools.

“The opportunities are endless so I hope everyone has a fabulous time.”

Tickets are available from the festival box office on 01636 655755. The full programme is available at the Newark Book Festival website