YLF 2023 Programme Announced!

Announcing our FULL line-up for the 2023 York Literature Festival. This year’s festival is officially sponsored by York St John University. We are excited to announce that York Literature Festival is returning in March 2023. We will be hosting a programme of events across the city, with some pre-festival events early in the month before the full event programme, running from Saturday 11th to Sunday 27th March 2023.

The full programme is now available for you to consider and download below and our What’s On page contains all the relevant links to tickets for each event. 

We have lots of events on offer this year, including such names as television legend David Dimbleby, authors Julia Armfield and Juno Dawson, and a music memoir day with 
P.P. Arnold and Lucy O’Brien. Historians Peter Frankopan and Tessa Dunlop will be joining us to discuss their latest books and Stu Hennigan will be talking about poverty and the pandemic.
Crime and thrillers are well represented with Saima MirMartin Edwards and Jude O’Reilly, and writers Lucie McKnight Hardy, Jeremy Dyson and Dan Coxon will send chills down our spines on our Writing the Uncanny panel. There is poetry from Leo BoixOz Hardwick and Hannah Davies too. Other events include a talk on Anne Bronte and Sarah Hart discussing the connections between literature and mathematics. There really is something for everyone this year!

Image above: Juno Dawson (photo credit: Eivind and Hanson 2019)

York Literature Festival 2022 and Covid

While we are delighted to be returning to face to face events, the safety of our artists, audiences, partners, staff and volunteers remains a priority. Although covid safety measures are no longer government mandated, we ask that you do not attend events if you have symptoms of covid, or have tested positive for the infection. 

If you are able to, please wear a face covering and use hand sanitiser when attending events. 

We want everyone to enjoy our events feeling as safe as possible. We hope that continuing to observe risk-reducing measures will enable all our attendees to feel safe and reassured.

York Literature Festival 2022 Programme – January 14, 2022

We are very excited to reveal the programme for the 2022 York Literature Festival, which is taking place across York from Friday 18th to Sunday 27th March.

Please download the programme from the link below. The digital brochure contains all the information you need to book your tickets! Information is also available on our What’s On page.

Previous Festivals

Photo credits: (top to bottom, left to right):
Rebecca Tamas – WITCH. Photograph by Lisa Stonehouse. | Professor Abi Curtis and Sarah Hall. Photograph by Rob O’Connor. | Dr Catherine Heinemeyer and Magid Magid. Photograph by St Peter’s School. | Helen Mort and Dr Helen Pleasance. Photograph by Rob O’Connor. | Simon Jenkins. Photograph by St Peter’s School.  | Joanna Trollope. Photograph by St Peter’s School.

Announcing York Literature Festival 2022! – December 23, 2021

We are excited to announce that York Literature Festival is returning in March 2022. We will be hosting a programme of events across the city from Friday 18th to Sunday 27th March 2022.

We are so pleased to be back. It has been a difficult time for all of us, but the power of literature and the spoken word has prevailed through amazing online performances and innovative publications. However, nothing beats hosting literary events in front of a live audience! In 2022 we have poetry, prose, politics, satire, children’s activities and creative writing workshops.

The line-up includes some amazing writers, such as Sarah Hall, Alexander McCall Smith, Amanda Owen, Helen Mort, Magid Magid, Simon Jenkins and Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan. There is something for everyone.

Some tickets are on sale now through the York Theatre Royal box office, so if you are looking for last minute Christmas presents for that literary person in your life, why not take a look here! More events will be announced in the next few weeks, so keep an eye on our website and Twitter account for more information. We are so pleased to be back and we hope you join us in 2022.

York Poetry Prize 2021 – June 18, 2021

The York Poetry Prize is back!

Our major literary prize competition returns for its ninth year, with great cash prizes at stake.

As in previous years, the prestigious event is run by YorkMix, in association with York Literature Festival. Enter here

The judge for this year’s competition is Kim Moore.

The closing date for entries is midnight on Sunday, 4 July, 2021.

The full rules are here.

Meet the judge

Our judge, Kim Moore, was born in 1981. She was a judge in the 2018 National Poetry Competition, and lives and works in Cumbria.

Her first full length collection, The Art of Falling was published in April 2015 and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, joining illustrious former winners Seamus Heaney and J.M. Coetzee.

She won a New Writing North Award in 2014, an Eric Gregory Award in 2011 and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2012. Last year she was appointed as a judge for the 2020 Forward Prizes.

Her poems have been translated into many languages as part of the Versopolis Poetry Project, and you can read samples of her excellent work at that site.

Even though pandemic restrictions may be relaxed by the time our competition is over, we have decided to keep our winners event online-only, as last year.

Shortlisted poets will be invited (but not be obliged) to submit video of themselves reading their poems, and these readings will be used when the winners are revealed.

Entries and prizes

The first prize is £500, with a runner-up award of £150, third prize of £75, and a fourth prize of £50.

A £50 award, the International Prize, will go to the best poem from a non-UK entrant. If a non-UK entrant is the overall winner or runner-up, the International Prize will be awarded to the next best non-UK entry.

The Helen Cadbury Prize of £50 will be awarded to an excellent poem from an entrant with a York (YO) postcode. If a YO-postcode entrant wins one of the top cash prizes, the prize will be awarded to the next best YO-postcode entry.

All entrants are eligible for the top prizes.

At the judge’s discretion, a number of Highly Commended and Commended certificates will be awarded.

All winners and Highly Commended poets will each receive a copy of the judge’s latest poetry collection.

In response to feedback from YorkMix readers, we have pegged our single-poem entry fee at last year’s rate, £7.50. 

A two-poem entry will be £12; three poems: £15; four poems £20; To encourage poets to show a range of styles and subject matter, a £25 entry fee will allow five to 10 poems to be entered in a single submission.

Poets who have experienced financial hardship as a result of the Covid epidemic, may have a free single-poem entry on application. Details are at the end of the rules.

Looking Ahead in 2021 – February 21, 2021

In what has been a difficult time, York Literature Festival looks ahead to a more positive 2021.

York Literature Festival would like to take this opportunity to officially thank our partners and sponsors for their continued support during the tumultuous months of 2020. Despite the cancellation of the festival, we enjoyed the opportunity to move our events online with the one-day mini festival in October and the online launch of the book Pilgrim Lost, by festival-friend and York-based author Tim Murgatroyd. 

Whilst it is with regret that we officially announce that there will not be a festival in March 2021, due to the continued proliferation of Coronavirus, York Literature Festival hopes to return later in the year with a selection of online events and the return of our face-to-face offering as soon as government restrictions allow us to do so and our partner venues are happy to resume.  

Therefore, please keep in touch and keep your eyes peeled for further announcements from us as 2021 progresses. Events will be announced when they are confirmed and organised. We will see you soon and remain positive for some live York Literature Festival events at some time in 2021! Plus, this gives us lots of time to plan for 2022!

YLF Online 2020 – Saturday 17th October – September 19, 2020

We are excited to announce that we will be returning in October with a day of FREE online events!

There is no denying that 2020 has been a tough year for everyone. So it is with great pleasure that we are bringing you a day of online events on Saturday 17th October, in association with MyVLF and Arts Council England. 

Every event on the day will be FREE. There is no need to book tickets! All you need to do is register for the MyVLF community in advance and then head to the website for the event at the given time.

Further details about gaining access to the events can be found below.

The great thing is that after you have joined the MyVLF community you can engage with the other literary events on their website as well. If you can not join us on the day, the events will still be on the MyVLF website for you to enjoy! 

Book sales will be available from Fox Lane Books.  MyVLF is the world’s only virtual book festival venue.

The day will consist of the following events.

11.00-12.00: ON LOVE – Join poets Seni Seneviratne and Afshan D’souza Lodhi as they read from their collections, Unknown Soldier and re: desire. 

12.00-13.00: YOUNG, BLACK AND BRITISH – In this special event presented by Dialogue Books, writers Jeffrey Boakye and Okey Nzelu exchange their views and understanding of what it’s like to be both black and British in the modern day and age. 

14.00-15.00: LOCATING YORK IN LITERATURE – Dr Rob O’Connor (York Centre for Writing, York St John University) is joined by Drs Zoë Enstone and Adam James Smith for a lively round-table discussion of York’s representation in literature from the eighteenth century to the present day.

16.00-17.00: WOMEN, SEX AND POWER IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY – Most of the women who ever lived left no trace on the record of history and everything we’ve known about ordinary women suggests they were powerless and downtrodden. Professor Suzannah Lipscomb brings us a different story and allows us to hear the voices of sixteenth-century women, telling us the realities of their lives and showing us the ways in which they could be powerful.   

17.00-18.00: POETRY READING WITH ANDREW MCMILLAN, SUPPORTED BY JOSHUA JUDSON – Andrew McMillan’s debut collection Physical was the first ever poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book Award, amongst others. His second collection, Playtime, was published to great acclaim in 2018 and was The Sunday Times Poetry Book of the Year. Andrew will be giving a reading from his work, supported by Joshua Judson, a poet from Nottingham. 

We look forward to seeing you – albeit virtually – at these events!

How to sign up

To join in with any/all of sessions for The York Literature Festival Online Day you only need to register at MyVLF.comonce. You will then have ongoing access to all events and areas. MyVLF is free to join. 

How to access the sessions

On desktop, laptop and ipad, click on the top menu to go to the Theatre or, you can also click on the front page, where you see the Theatre sign.

On mobile, you can use the ‘Press for Menu’ button, or look in the top right corner for the menu. Then scroll down for the Theatre.

You can also click on this link: MyVLF Theatre

MyVLF is more than just the Theatre!

While you’re on the site, or at any other time, please browse the stands in our Exhibition Hall, go to our Café to download our Free Book of the Month, or visit our Bookshelf and take a look at the available books on display.

Get Involved – Volunteers

We always welcome volunteers to assist with the delivery of York Literature Festival. We are looking for local people of all ages, interests and backgrounds to help us make the Festival as successful as possible.

More than 40 events take place across York in each Festival period and we rely on our volunteers to ensure that these run smoothly. Volunteer roles can include welcoming guests, ticket distribution, queue management, venue set-up, looking after the authors/speakers, answering enquiries and the distribution and collection of evaluation forms at each event.

As a volunteer we hope you will find the experience rewarding. You will get to meet some of our featured authors/speakers and attend some of the events for free! Volunteering at the Festival can also be useful experience if you are thinking of working in the arts or event management in the future.

No previous experience is required – you just need to be over 18, enjoy dealing with people and be enthusiastic about the arts!To express an interest in volunteering, or if you have any queries, please click here to email us or fill in the contact form.

Get Involved – Competitions

Youth Creative Composition Competition in collaboration with The Mount School.

Get Involved – Submissions

Events at York Literature Festival are by invitation only. We will not be running an official submissions period as in previous years. Submissions will still be considered but may not result in an invitation being issued. Please send any submissions to