By Andy Hirst, Special Correspondent

Huddersfield Literature Festival will go ahead next month … but will almost all be online.

With the UK currently under lockdown, the festival’s theme this year will be, somewhat ironically, ‘escape.’

The festival was a trailblazer for online events last March when its organising team took the brave decision to just run it online a week before the official lockdown came into force.

It means they know just what they’re facing by doing it almost all online again this year. The festival usually runs a diverse programme of events at venues across the town.

Huddersfield Literature Festival (HLF) director Michelle Hodgson said: “We didn’t expect to be running a second festival in lockdown conditions, but fortunately we have an experienced and agile team and bookings are already very strong as people look for positive and creative outlets during challenging times.”

Alexander McCall Smith – pic by Kirsty Anderson

Events will include talks with high-profile names such as Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series; crime writer Peter Robinson, who created the popular Yorkshire-set DI Banks crime fiction series and journalist Saima Mir who will chat about her debut crime novel The Khan with Bradford-based crime writer AA Dhand.

Celebrating wellbeing and lifestyle, Bernadette Russell will give tips on How to Be Hopeful, Georgina Wilson-Powell will solve everyday eco-dilemmas as discussed in her new book Is It Really Green? and celebrated TV chef and cookery author Ching He Huang will demonstrate a vegan recipe from her new book, Asian Green.

In a special University of Huddersfield event, Johny Pitts will talk about his book Afropean: Notes from Black Europe, while university Professor of Contemporary Poetry Heather Clark will discuss her new book, Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath with Dave Haslam who wrote Sylvia Plath in Paris, 1956.

Participants can escape into creative writing workshops on subjects as diverse as Writing Text for Music, Overcoming Writer’s Block and Fiery Flash Fiction.

Meanwhile, Dark Horse Theatre, a Huddersfield company featuring actors with learning disabilities, has been commissioned by the Festival to produce three short films about lockdown in a series called #OutBreakOut.

To commemorate the anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown on March 23 last year, the festival is creating a spectacular Lockdown Lantern Installation in the courtyard of the Lawrence Batley Theatre with an online Lockdown Poems event the same day with poets Kei Miller, Chérie Taylor Battiste and Michelle Scally Clarke.

Johny Pitts: Pic by: Jamie Stoker

Finally, community groups across Huddersfield are being invited to take part in the HLF/Woven Book Trail project by using repurposed fabrics and other recycled materials to recreate a favourite character or scene from a book, with prizes for each area winner and an overall winner.

All booking details and information are on the festival website at

* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.