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‘Best Ilkley Literature Festival ever’, say organisers and visitors
7:00am Friday 25th October 2013 in Local news
The curtain has come down on the 40th annual Ilkley Literature Festival – the most successful yet.
Over 17 days in October, a host of top writers, broadcasters, performers and poets attracted a record-breaking number of visitors to the town and the festival in its landmark year.
Festival director Rachel Feldberg said: “It was a fantastic way to celebrate the 40th anniversary. We had more events which led to an increased number of people at the festival.
“Ticket sales were good – 23,843 excluding the free events, an increase of 800 on the previous year and overall 26,000 people came to festival events.
“There was a real celebratory feel all the way through the festival.
“Highlights for me included Carol Ann Duffy’s first reading of the poem we commissioned for the 40th anniversary. It is a really powerful poem and rooted in the landscape of Ilkley.
“Any Questions was an absolutely unique way to set off the celebrations and Jonathan Miller’s closing event was inspiring – he is an extraordinary man and it was a fitting way to finish the festival.
“In between there were so many memorable events – so many audience members have been in touch to tell us their favourites. William Dalrymple was a very inspiring speaker and Simon Armitage’s event where he talked about the influence of Ted Hughes on his work was the kind of event that sends shivers down your spine – just extraordinary.
“There were some wonderful performances too that people said they were blown away by and audiences raved about the non-fiction events. The Brownlee brothers were so courteous, unassuming and very special. People came from all over the country for the Richard III event.
“Cath Cassidy was so patient with her signing queue and it was heart warming to see children so engrossed and excited by an author.
“Ilkley shone at the ukelele concert and I was so very proud of our resident poets and young writers group – to see their confidence and the quality of their work was wonderful.”
Although the festival is over people can relive moments by going to ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk to listen to the online radio station featuring news and interviews.
People can also visit the Manor House in Ilkley until Sunday, December 1, to view the Making Waves exhibition which delves into the archives to celebrate 40 inspiring years of Ilkley Literature Festival.
Meanwhile, with all the tickets snapped up for the Wimpy Kid Show at Ilkley Playhouse, two young super fans thought they would miss out on one of the main attractions for children at Ilkley Literature Festival.
In a piece of good luck, however, the two seven-year-olds from Ilkley were the winners of tickets given away by the Grammar School at Leeds, the main sponsor of the Children’s Festival.
Arul Midgley, who attends Ashlands Primary School, along with Madeline Greig, of All Saints Primary, got to see their favourite book character Greg Heffley and friends brought to life at the show, performed by actor Alistair Watson with a cartoon class via video from the author Jeff Kinney. During the show the youngsters in the packed audience of 150 had a go at drawing their own cartoons.
Arul said: “I was very excited when I won tickets and got to see the show after all. The books are funny, I like all of them and Greg is a good character.”
Alex Hobbs, ten, with his brother Edward, eight, from Burley Oaks Primary, said: “We found out how the author draws the characters as the presenter drew on a tablet and it showed up on the screen. I like drawing cartoons myself so I got lots of tips.”
Another treat for young readers at the main children’s weekend was a session with The Chocolate Box Girls author Cathy Cassidy.
There were more than 30 events in a packed programme for children at this year’s festival.
Rachel Feldberg added: “The Children’s Festival has been a key part of the Festival since 2003 and helps to bring books alive for young people and enthuse them about reading. Our partnership with the Grammar School at Leeds is now in its second year and has helped us to develop an exciting programme of events which have proved extremely popular with schools and families.”
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