Wimbledon BookFest is London’s leading community-based literary festival. Now it becomes one of the first to return to live in-person events with two 5-day festivals on Wimbledon Common: “Sunrise” (9 – 13 Jun 2021) and “Sunset” (15 – 19 Sep 2021).
Each will take place in BookFest’s reduced-capacity, roof-only marquee with socially distanced allocated seating. Additional safety procedures will also be in place, such as an advance booking-only policy to enable track and trace. This Covid-secure format was successfully used in October 2020 when Wimbledon BookFest presented “The Last Days of Summer”, one of the few in-person arts festivals to take place last year.
“Sunrise” comprises 40 talks, readings, discussions and workshops spanning fiction, poetry, politics, nature, art, fashion, music, lifestyle and spirituality, including events for young people and schools. The programme features a range of writers, artists and thinkers – from well-known names to important new voices and local talent:
- A decade on from her landmark book How to Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran returns with its biting sequel More than a Woman, which looks at feminism, motherhood and middle age.
- Strategist Alastair Campbell reflects on the Olympics, Brexit and Scottish nationalism in his latest Diaries (2010 – 2015) and talks about his struggle with depression.
- Accidental relationship guru Rosie Wilby presents a live episode of her comedy chat show podcast The Breakup Monologues with special guest comedian Shappi Khorsandi.
- Ed Miliband presents his book Go Big based on the award-winning podcast Reasons to be Cheerful that showcases initiatives that are transforming communities and pioneering global movements.
- Broadcaster James O’Brien returns with his personal manifesto for a better way of living, How Not to be Wrong in conversation with Razia Iqbal.
- Costa Book of the Year 2021 winner (and Wimbledon resident) Monique Roffey joins local writers Ingrid Persaud and Leone Ross for readings and discussion from three contemporary British and Caribbean literary voices.
- Actor and comedian Robert Webb discusses his debut novel Come Again, the follow up to his sensitive memoir, How to be a Boy.
- Comedian Frank Skinner as you’ve never heard him before – talking about his faith and sharing his personal conversations with God in A Comedian’s Prayer Book.
- Vicar and former pop star Reverend Richard Coles opens up about The Madness of Grief, his deeply personal account of life after the death of his long-term partner
- Sharing perspectives on empire, nationalism and identity are journalist Sathnam Sanghera (Empire Land) and comedian and novelist David Baddiel (Jews Don’t Count).
- Survivalist and bushcraft expert Ray Mears offers a journey of discovery through our natural world in We Are Nature. Explorer Tristan Gooley takes us into The Secret World of Weather. Journalist Tim Marshall explains everything you need to know about global politics in ten maps from his book Prisoners of Geography.
- In a series of events focusing on wellness and spirituality, Lucy Davidson introduces us to Mindful Pottery; Kirsty Gallagher shows us how to harness the power of the moon to live with intention and purpose in Lunar Living; and renowned meditation teacher Michael James Wong guides us through the healing power of origami paper cranes, Senbazuru.
- Children’s events include an appearance by the much-loved War Horse author Michael Morpurgo who reads his latest picture book A Song of Gladness, as well as Take Me Outdoors, a workshop for young explorers ages 5+. For older children, Conrad Murray, artistic director of Battersea Arts Centre’s Beatbox Academy, will run a beatboxing workshop as well as a residency in Merton schools.
- Wimbledon BookFest’s year-round education programme works with schools and colleges in Merton and surrounding boroughs. Sunrise also includes a number of schools-only events for limited in-person audiences with live digital relay – including talks by Jeffery Boakye, Phil Earle and Ross McKenzie.
- Finally, BookFest’s Musician-in-Residence Julian Butler will be on hand between events to bring the joy and uplift back to live events that audiences have missed so much.
Wimbledon BookFest returns in 2021 thanks to financial support from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund through Arts Council England; Principal Partner University of Roehampton; Lead Sponsor Baillie Gifford; and the support of community sponsors and benefactors.
Fiona Razvi, Festival Director said:
“It’s so wonderful to be running live events this summer. “Sunrise” represents the first of two festivals this year with “Sunset” coming later in September. Running two festivals in open air marquees when the weather is warmer allows us to welcome back our audiences in a safe, controlled way. We had an extremely positive experience of being one of the few festivals to deliver a live festival last year.
“Wimbledon BookFest is such an important part of the community’s cultural calendar for so many. We are incredibly grateful to Arts Council England and our sponsors and benefactors who have made it possible for us to stage these festivals this summer. We will also be filming events to reach wider audiences, and to allow those unable to visit to still experience a sense of the ‘live’ environment once again. We’ve all missed it!”
Wimbledon BookFest: Sunrise goes on sale to BookFest Friends on Mon 10 May, 10am and on general sale on Mon 17 May, 10am.