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Monday 15 October - Monday 22 October 2018

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Festival news

Dive in – our programme is out now!

With 7 weeks to go, our 20-page programme has been released.

Councillor Janet Emsley with a festival booklet

More than 900 tickets have already been sold and Councillor Janet Emsley, Cabinet Member for Culture, Health and Wellbeing at Rochdale Borough Council said it is looking like being a record year:

“Initial ticket sales are strong and I am really excited to see how this festival is growing each year.  I am pleased to say we have another intriguing and interesting programme – an amazing combination of international names and local talent that really will live up to its name and expand your mind!”

Acts in this year’s programme include political commentator and journalist Owen Jones, comedians Jenny Eclair and Mark Steel, internationally acclaimed crime writers Mark Billingham and John Connolly and million selling author Ann Cleeves.

Poet, playwright and broadcaster Ian McMillan returns, alongside his son Andrew. The duo has been commissioned by the festival to write 2 new poems which local choirs will perform to music by Manchester-based composer, Michael Betteridge.

Benet Brandreth, son of Gyles, will be talking about his debut novel The Spy of Venice and Lesley-Ann Jones will be discussing her recently published tribute to her hero, David Bowie.

The festival also features the Chocolat author Joanne Harris MBE, renowned storyteller Ursula Holden Gill, philosophy expert Amy Ramsay, Community Arts North West, historical novelist Elizabeth Chadwick, playwright Ian Townsend and author Nikesh Shukla. For young people there’s an exciting Generation Z programme including one man human beatbox Testament and theatre shows The Devil Speaks True and  21,000 Miles of Rail.

For children and families there’s a Roald Dahl themed programme of events.

Warm-up events will be held from 22 September 2016.

The festival is organised by Rochdale Borough Council, funded by the Maskew Bequest, ticket sales and sponsorship First ​​​UK Bus, JGM Agency​, Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre​ and Hopwood Hall College​.

The programme is available in a variety of formats, or view it day-by-day.  You can order a paper copy by emailing RochdaleLitfest@rochdale.gov.uk or pick one up free from your local library, or other many stockists across the area, including:


  • Touchstones Arts and Heritage Centre
  • Number One Riverside
  • Rochdale Town Hall
  • Rochdale Bus Station
  • Number Ten Gift Shop, Baillie Street
  • The Baum
  • Rochdale Pioneers Museum


  • Hollingworth Lake Visitors Centre


  • Heywood Civic Centre


  • Middleton Arena
  • Middleton Library

Greater Manchester

  • Libraries
  • Tourist Information Centres
  • Museums and galleries
  • Theatres
  • Victoria and Piccadilly railway stations