This weekend Alexandra Palace saw a bumper weekend for literature lovers with London’s newest literary festival the North London Book Fest (21 – 24 March 2024) and Biblio-Buzz – the Alexandra Palace Children’s Book Award.

The North London Book Fest welcomed book lovers to Alexandra Palace for a diverse programme of events featuring headliners Natalie Haynes, Leo Vardiashvili, Peter Hain, Lemony Snicket, Michael Rosen and Stuart Turton.

The ambitious new festival connected readers with revered authors and up-and-coming writers and featured a feast of readings, panel discussions, Q&As, workshops and book-signings for readers of all genres and ages.

The North London Book Fest is the latest addition to Alexandra Palace’s cultural programme, with events taking place in the Palace’s award-winning Theatre, Creativity Pavilion and Transmitter Hall.

Joint-Festival Director and Head of Creative Learning at Alexandra Palace, Mark Civil: “We are delighted to have welcomed people to the Palace for a little bit of history: our the first ever literary festival. We have been growing our literary programming through a range of author readings, panel discussions and our children’s book award. The festival was a chance to pull that all together into one moment – it was a fantastic four days. Our ambition is for this to become an annual event, something that book lovers will look forward to and saviour, as well as developing a touring programme that can go out across libraries and bookshops across north London.”

Kate Ereira, Joint-Festival Director: “We have had the most extraordinary weekend with sell-out events and stunningly good speakers. From large events in the beautiful Theatre to intimate children’s creative workshops, the whole four days has been packed with really special experiences.”

The action kicked off on Thursday 21 March with pub quiz night from the fiendish mind of quiz book author Frank Paul – ‘superstar of the world of quizzies’. This was followed on the Friday 22 March by an evening of intrigue with a round-up of the latest thought-provoking crime and political thrillers, ahead of busy festival schedule across Saturday 23 March and Sunday 24 March.

​North London Book Fest is supported by Waterstones, who ran the festival bookshop, with support provided by Tottenham Grammar School Foundation, Haringey Council and ckbk. The festival coincided with the finale of Biblio-buzz, the annual Alexandra Palace Children’s Book Award, which saw 900 young people attend a ceremony in the Theatre on Friday 22 March.

The Award challenges young people, aged 9-12, to read six selected texts, complete challenges, take part in workshops, then vote for their favourite book and meet the authors at the awards.

Young Biblio-Buzz participants this year voted Finn Jones Was Here by Simon James Green as their favourite text. The book is a funny, heartbreaking story about life and loss, and making every second count.

Biblio-Buzz – which is an annual event running from November to March – is part of Alexandra Palace’s Creative Learning programme and aims to use the power of literature to reach and inspire young creative minds, and raise their interest in books and libraries. It is a partnership project between the Palace, Haringey Library Service, librarians, schools, professional authors, publishers and local books shops.

Meanwhile, on Saturday 23 March, participants, authors and families gathered in Wood Green Library to see Nazneen Ahmed Pathak’s book City of Stolen Magic announced as the winner of the Biblio-Buzz Library Award. This award was voted for by those participating in Biblio-Buzz via their local library. Both award ceremonies were compered by the inimitable Jack Meggitt-Phillips, who was the winning author of Biblio-Buzz 2022.

Simon James Green commented: “I am absolutely thrilled to win the Alexandra Palace Children’s Book Award with Finn Jones Was Here. The fact it’s voted for by hundreds of young people makes it all the more special, and it means a lot that this story of grief, hope, friendship, and belting out Lady Gaga songs while dressed as a unicorn has resonated with so many of them. Walking out on stage in that beautiful theatre, in front of nine hundred cheering kids, with rock concert lighting, at an event which included books, authors, and live music was absolutely magic. And what a fantastic way to encourage and celebrate all things reading – hats off to the librarians and team who put this together because it’s something everyone involved will remember for the rest of their lives. Events like this prove that kids love books and reading more than ever and it was an honour to be part of that.”

Emma Dagnes Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust and CEO added: “It was fantastic to see our young Biblio-Buzz participants enjoying themselves at the awards ceremonies. They’ve all put in a huge amount of work over recent months to read the books and take on a number of challenges. To then vote for their favourite text and meet the authors in person is a brilliant way to celebrate. Biblio-Buzz is a pillar of our annual programme here at the Palace, part of our ongoing partnership with local libraries, and this year it has gone to new heights with more participants than ever. We’ve also had the addition of building the awards into our new North London Book Festival, which took place across the weekend. It is a privilege to support all the young readers on their journey through the world of books. A huge thanks go to all the schools, libraries, bookshops and authors who have partnered with us to provide this unique opportunity.”

Biblio-Buzz is part of a year-round partnership between Alexandra Palace and Haringey’s nine libraries that offers a range of events and activities for young people, including author readings, live performances and workshops led by professionals in the creative industries.

The Biblio-Buzz 2024 shortlist was selected by a team of local school librarians, who are the founders of the Book Award, it featured:

The Song Walker – Zillah Bethell
Finn Jones Was Here – Simon James Green
The Stories Grandma Forgot – Nadine Aisha Jassat
Midwinter Burning – Tanya Landman
City of Stolen Magic – Nazneen Ahmed Pathak
Bite Risk – S.J. Wills

This year the official suppliers of Biblio-Buzz 2024 were Muswell Hill Children’s Bookshop and Pickled Pepper Books who are offering discounted packs of the shortlisted books to schools or individuals who take part in Biblio-Buzz.

For the first time in 2024 Biblio-Buzz was extended to cover Enfield libraries, the awards for which will be announced later in the year.