Popular book festival returns to Carlisle city’s cultural calendar

Popular book festival returns to Carlisle city’s cultural calendar – tickets on sale now!

The much-loved festival, celebrating the written and spoken word, will run from Thursday 30 September to Sunday 3 October, with a satellite event on the 10 October. Though the festival is a slightly more compact version than usual, organisers say that the line-up is one of the best ones yet with big names such as Ruth Jones, Alan Johnson, Grace Dent and Paula Hawkins, as well as a host of other top class internationally acclaimed and diverse authors and writers. The festival will have a distinctly Cumbrian flavour incorporating new titles and new faces, as well as a handful of much-loved favourites. 

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Managed by a team of volunteers, the festival has been running annually since 2014, and is a popular event on the Border City’s cultural calendar. Cancelled last year due to Covid-19, organisers have been busy behind the scenes working on a new approach – this year’s event will be a blended festival with chances to participate in person and online, depending on personal preference.

The team are also delighted to announce the appointment of Lee Randall as Festival Producer who has secured this year’s entertaining line-up. Randall, writer, interviewer and programmer, has over 40 years’ experience in the publishing industry and is responsible for devising the hugely popular Granite Noir, Aberdeen’s crime fiction festival. She is no stranger to Borderlines Festival having chaired previous events and is excited by the challenge. Lee says: 

“A few years ago, I visited Borderlines Carlisle to chair some events and discovered a charming historic city with a vibrant festival scene. People who are enthusiastic about books and their creators are my kind of people. I’m excited to have had the chance to programme across a range of genres, curating a lineup featuring writers of fiction and non-fiction at every stage of their careers. 

If crime fiction is your passion, we hope you’ll catch up with M.W. Craven and Claire Askew and turn out to hear Alan Johnson talk about his debut thriller. Claire’s also running a writing workshop about avoiding crime fiction clichés, which is sure to be full of top tips. There are five more workshops, as well, including one focussing on nonfiction.

We’re welcoming acclaimed authors Arifa Akbar and Pragya Agarwal, to talk about illness, family dynamics, and the complicated choices surrounding motherhood. Richard Atkinson will be in conversation about his links with Cumbria, and the family’s disturbing history in the slave trade. There’ll be talks about the gorgeous Settle-Carlisle railway line, and historic female criminals whose stories have fallen out of the history books. Acclaimed Scottish author Jim Crumley will be discussing his first book about the Lake District — which takes a surprisingly fresh perspective on this much-written about landscape.

Speaking of the Lake District, we are throwing a party for Dorothy Wordsworth’s 250th anniversary, celebrating her life and work with readings and new biographical insights. We’re also celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Vagina Monologues, a play that brought “the V word” out of hiding.

Carlisle’s own Grace Dent joins us to talk about her memoir, food culture, restaurant reviewing, and life behind the scenes of a popular television show. We’re also thrilled to be welcoming bestselling authors Paula Hawkins and Ruth Jones, and, in a satellite event on the 10th, Robin Ince rolls into town to re-ignite our passion for science.

There’s more, besides, and I hope you’ll find this year’s programme full of tempting options. Be sure to book early — and often!”

The festival will be held in a collection of easy to access City Centre venues including the Crown & Mitre Hotel, Tullie House, the Tithe Barn and Cakes & Ales café. Events will include talks, panel discussions and workshops. Selected events will be live streamed.

Cumbrian Creatives (as well as those further afield) will be pleased to hear that the Borderlines Poetry Competition is also back. Poets are invited to write a poem on the theme of Connections, with the winners being showcased at the festival’s popular Poetry Open Mic night. See the website for more details.

Anna Smalley, Chair of Borderlines Committee, comments: 

“We are so pleased to be able to run Borderlines again this year – it has been and continues to be challenging to programme and plan the festival during these uncertain times but we feel it’s so important for our community to bring as much literary joy as we can to the city!”

Tickets, priced from £5, are available now by visiting www.borderlinescarlisle.co.uk or in person from Bookends, Castle Street.

For book lovers that can’t wait, why not join the Borderlines Book Group that takes place virtually on the first Wednesday of every month. Titles tie into the programme. Places are free and more details can be found here: www.borderlinescarlisle.co.uk

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