Internationally renowned poet Simon Armitage CBE read some of his latest poetry collections at a sold-out St Chad’s Church in Rochdale for the finale of this year’s festival.
Over the last eight-days hundreds of people watched top literary names that also included Louise Minchin, Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE, Stuart Maconie, Dr Helen Pankhurst and Gervase Phinn.
More than 1,700 tickets were sold – with hundreds more attending un-ticketed events throughout the festival and warm up shows earlier in October.
Our festival proved a big hit, across all ages, with 13 sold out performances and good audiences across the week.
Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture, at organiser Rochdale Borough Council who introduced many of the events said our sixth festival was a success:
“We’ve had a real mix of well-known international names, prolific writers and also some less celebrated acts and workshops playing to full houses. It was another diverse programme which helped attract a wide audience and the last eight days have been a real showcase of creativity and imagination. Ticket sales are up 10% on last year and the number of positive comments we have received from far and wide is superb. What struck me day after day was the quality of the performances and the amazing talent on show. I would like to thank the team responsible for delivering another superb festival, our sponsors JGM Agency and The Royal Toby Hotel for looking after our guests so well.”
Our festival, being staged for the sixth time, began with the premiere of ‘A Different Story of Rochdale’ by local young writer Danny Lamb and a new play ‘Streaks’ by Rochdale Youth Theatre.
Three top crime authors – Isabelle Grey, Elly Griffiths and William Shaw discussed their work in ‘Crime Files: Serial Offenders’ – looking at what it’s like to revisit the same characters, book after book.
This year’s ‘Literary Walk’ was in Middleton, combining an autumnal stroll with poetry about local landmarks and writer Sam Bamford.
Pupils from Falinge Park High School performed their own work during an evening of open mic poetry hosted by spoken word artist Adisa the Verbaliser.
Writer and broadcaster Stuart Maconie shared stories and insights from his recent retracing of the famous Jarrow March during an entertaining evening at St Chad’s Parish Church.
Author Stephanie Butland discussed her latest novel The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae over afternoon tea at Rochdale Town Hall and broadcaster Louise Minchin presented the most motivating event at the festival, talking candidly about her new book Dare to Tri.
British Indian storyteller, Peter Chand and UK music producer PKCthefirst brought their sublime and sometimes surreal work to life at Touchstones with over an hour of poetry and humorous tales from India, accompanied by the sound of a live DJ mix.
Stars of stage and screen were treading the boards at the Curtain Theatre for ‘Women of the World’ on Sunday, mixing classic poetry with contemporary work and music. Professional actors Mina Anwar, Krissi Bohn, Hannah Ellis Ryan and Sue Devaney starred in the afternoon hosted by Director Joyce Branagh.
There were lots of fun activities for families over the weekend – author and storyteller Richard O’Neill presented a live interactive reading of his latest story – Polonius the Pit Pony. There was a kids’ Silent Disco at Touchstones and local company Brown’s Cakes held Dennis the Menace and Friends Cupcake Faces classes, giving everyone a chance to make a character from icing.
Local wine bar Vicolo del Vino welcomed four top stand-up comedians for an evening of ‘Mirth & More’ and the Fringe Festival, hosted by All Across the Arts saw several local authors and performers take to the stage at Rochdale’s Vibe bar.
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