York Literature Festival


The Festival began in 2007 under the auspices of York City Council. After the cuts which followed the crash of 2008, it was adopted by a voluntary group and has grown steadily to become one of the foremost literature festivals in the North of England. It forms an important part of the cultural life of the city and in 2016 succeeded in obtaining charitable status as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (registered charity number 1165936).The current Board consists of 4 Trustees and is aided at festival time by a team of volunteers. Its mission is to deliver a high-quality literature festival for York and the North East whilst also providing a showcase for local writing talent.

Previous Authors

Over the years the Festival has been privileged to host a wonderful range of authors, artists and celebrities including Simon Armitage, Tony Benn, Vince Cable, Tracy Chevalier, Germaine Greer, Val McDermid, Michael Palin, Michael Portillo, David Starkey, Joanna Trollope, Baroness Warsi and Lucy Worsley.


The Festival hosts its events in a wide range of venues. These include such iconic locations as York Theatre Royal, St Peter’s School, York St John University, York Explore Library, Kings Manor, York Art Gallery and many more.

Range of Events

The Festival prides itself on having a diverse range of events including talks, lectures, panels, debates, performances, storytelling pieces and workshops. It features both fiction (literary, contemporary and genre-based), non-fiction and poetry while focusing on a number of themes including history, current affairs and a small programme for children. The 2019 Festival was spread over a period of 17 days and encompassed nearly 80 events. The 2019 Festival Programme showcases the full range of what was on offer. You can also check out our Gallery to see photos of all of the wonderful events!

Sponsors and Partners

The Festival is supported by a number of Sponsors and Partners. Over the past four years its headline sponsor has been Baillie Gifford who are also major sponsors of other literary events across the UK including the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. Its other main Sponsors and Partners include York St John University, St Peter’s School, Explore York Libraries & Archives and York Theatre Royal.

Attendee Numbers and Networks

The Festival has a strong and engaged network including nearly 5,000 Twitter followers (@YorkLitFest) as well as over 2,750 subscribers to its series of enewsletters. It recently upgraded its website which received c10,000 individual visitors and nearly 100,000 page hits during the month of the 2019 festival. Over the last three years average attendances have been in excess of 5000.