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Monday 15 October - Monday 22 October 2018

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Festival news

More names added to line-up

More headline guests are on the line-up for this year’s festival.

Our 7 day festival in October will include humanitarian and author Terry Waite CBE, former Home Secretary and MP Alan Johnson, along with one of the UK’s best loved crime writers, Mandasue Heller.

Life Story.

26 years ago, Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie’s special envoy Terry Waite, was released from captivity in Beirut, after being held hostage for almost five years.  During the festival he’ll be recalling the highs and lows of his life, published in ‘Out of the Silence’ his moving sequence of poems and reflections.  You’ll be able to hear his incredible journey, immortalised in his best-selling autobiography ‘Taken on Trust’.

Alan Johnson will be making his Rochdale debut to discuss the third volume of his award-winning memoirs.  Following on from his early life recounted in ‘This Boy’ and ‘Please, Mister Postman’, ‘The Long and Winding Road’ takes us to the corridors of Westminster where his negotiating skills and charismatic style soon came to the notice of Tony Blair and other senior members of the Labour Party. Entering Parliament as an MP after the landslide election victory in May 1997, Alan rose to the office of Home Secretary in 2009.

Alan Johnson.

Mandasue Heller will be discussing ‘Run,’ her 15th novel in 15 years – a gritty, fast-paced, urban thriller based in Manchester’s criminal underworld. Warrington-born Mandasue, dubbed “the Martina Cole of the north”, moved to Greater Manchester in the 1980s where she found the inspiration and backdrop for her crime thrillers. Her 2015 novel, ‘Afraid’, was a Sunday Times top 10 bestseller and her books have already sold nearly 2 million copies.


Terry Waite CBE, Alan Johnson and Mandasue Heller join a line-up which also includes talk show legend Sir Michael Parkinson, comedian and novelist Jenny Eclair and Manchester poet Tony Walsh aka Longfella.

Further details of the programme will be announced shortly and tickets go on sale online from 10am on Monday, 7 August 2017.

Councillor Janet Emsley Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Community and Culture at Rochdale Borough Council said:

“Once again as you can see, the calibre of our line-up is of the very best and here we have three more fascinating additions to the programme.  Feedback so far has been fantastic … we have so much ambition for this festival and I am very proud to see it growing each year.  Our popular early bird ticket offer will also be returning in August, making what is already a great value festival even more affordable if you book well in advance.”

The festival is organised by Rochdale Borough Council, supported by the Maskew Bequest and sponsored by The Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre and creative digital media company – JGM Agency.