Burnley Literary Festival


2016 will see the first ever Burnley Literary Festival being held across Burnley town centre.

The Festival will feature an exciting programme of workshops, talks, readings, performances, masterclasses, open-mic sessions and more across the themes of Books & Reading; Poetry, Performance & Drama; Culture; and Film.

This fantastic family focused 10 day event will run during October half term, from Saturday 29th October to Monday 7th November.

There will be something for everyone, with bestselling authors, storytelling, poetry, community theatre, street performances, crafts, music, a tea party, film showings and reading groups.

Sessions will be free or low cost to encourage everyone to get involved.



  • burnley council
  • supported by the Arts Council
  • special thanks to McDonalds
  • Thanks to...
  • burnley college
  • burnley mechanics theatre
  • Charter Walk
  • Cildrens Trust
  • burnley youth theatre
  • burnley market
  • uclan burnley
  • lancashire Adult learning
  • lancashire county council

We are experiencing some technical issues with our bookings on Eventbrite. If you book on any session the correct date and time will be as listed in our programme / what’s on listings. If you are unable to book on any sessions please contact us on 01282425011 ext 3147 and we will place your booking. Apologies for any inconvenience.

In Conversation with… Sheena Byrom OBE

Burnley Central Library | Sat 29 Oct| All ages | 11:00 - 12:00

Sheena is a freelance midwifery consultant, using the knowledge and skill she developed during an extensive midwifery career in the NHS.  She was one of the UK’s first consultant midwives, and successfully helped to lead the development of three birth centres in East Lancashire. She now lectures nationally and internationally on midwifery and childbirth related topics, and the benefits of using social media.

Sheena is a board member of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), a member of the RCM’s Better Births initiative, Patron of StudentMidwife.Net, and Chair of the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust. Sheena was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to midwifery, and received an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Midwives in 2015.

Sheena’s midwifery memoirs, Catching Babies, is a Sunday Times bestseller.  Her latest book, ‘The Roar Behind the Silence: Why Kindness, Compassion and Respect Matter in Maternity Care’ is jointly edited with Professor Soo Downe OBE, with the hope that the book will used as a resource to promote positive childbirth throughout the world.

Sheena will be in conversation with BBC Radio Lancashire’s Graham Liver, talking about her life, her work and her books in what promises to be a fascinating session.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Storytelling with Sue Allonby

Burnley Central Library | Sat 29 Oct| 7+ | 13:30 - 14:15

Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of entertainment which is just as valuable today as it was thousands of years ago, providing real, eye-contact entertainment with elements of fun, wonder and self-discovery.

Sue is a storyteller with a real love and enthusiasm for traditional stories and for sharing them. In this session she will be telling some amazing stories including Burnley Tales which will capture the imagination.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Storytelling Workshop with Sue Allonby

Burnley Central Library | Sat 29 Oct| 7+ | 14:15 - 15:00

Following the storytelling session, Sue will be delivering a fun, exciting and interactive storytelling workshop for anyone who enjoys a good story. Enjoy trying out the skills of traditional storytelling with some fun activities, culminating in telling a tale yourself!

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Livi Michael

The Paddock | Sat 29 Oct| Adults | 13:30 - 14:30

Award winning author Livi Michael has written eighteen novels for people of all ages including historical, contemporary realism and fantasy novels. She teaches literature and creative writing at the Manchester Metropolitan University.

Her latest book, Accession, is the final instalment in the Succession Trilogy.  It continues the story of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor and concludes with the Battle of Bosworth, one of the most significant turning points of English history.

At this session Livi will talk about her work, the inspiration for her writing, and read from Accession.  There will also be an opportunity to ask questions about her extensive writing career.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Literary Film showings at Reel Cinema

| Sat 29 Oct| 12+ |

29th Oct onwards:

Dr Strange: Superhero film starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Marvel Comics character

Inferno: The mystery thriller sequel to the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons starring Tom Hanks

Jack Reacher-Never Go Back: Tom Cruise returns as Lee Child’s protagonist based on the book of the same name

4th Nov onwards:

Street Cat Named Bob: British comedy drama based on the bestselling book by James Bowen

The Light Between Oceans: A romantic period drama based on the 2012 novel by M L Stedman


Local History Talk & Walk

Starting at Burnley Town Hall

| Sun 30 Oct| All ages | 14:00

Brian Hall of Burnley & District Historical Society will bring local history to life when he leads this interesting Talk & Walk Tour of Burnley Town Centre. The walk will take approx. 1 hour to complete and take in many heritage buildings and sites around the town.

The Burnley and District Historical Society was formed shortly after the Second World War to promote and facilitate interest in local history in its broadest sense. It currently has about 100 members. Members meet at regular intervals between September and April for lectures on a variety of historical subjects, both national and local. The Society also publish and sell books on a wide variety of local history topics.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Emerging Poet Aziz Dixon

Discussion and poetry reading

Central Methodist Church | Sun 30 Oct| Adults | 15:30

Emerging Poet Aziz Dixon grew up in London but in later life has migrated to East Lancashire where his sprit continues to roam widely.

His poetry is accessible and thought provoking, inspired by the landscapes he walks through and the people he loves.

Join Aziz for a relaxing Sunday afternoon as he talks about and reads from his developing body of work including poems from ‘Paper Landscapes’ and ‘River and Hills, Voices of Irwell’.

Hot drinks available.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Muhammed Ali and Me

By Mojisola Adebayo and the Ali Collective

Xercise4Less Burnley Gym | Sun 30 Oct| 11+ | 14:00 - 16:00

Performed in memory and celebration of Muhammad Ali, The Greatest, 1942-2016.

‘Muhammad Ali and me have one thing in common: we were Black in the seventies.’

Muhammad Ali and Me is the critically acclaimed coming-of-age story of a young black girl growing up in foster care and her fantastical friendship with the legendary, Muhammad Ali.


Ali was always full of surprises. He danced in the boxing ring, rapped at press conferences, recited poetry in TV interviews, preached Islam from the back of a Cadillac and invoked revolution in a generation.


In the spirit of Ali, Muhammad Ali and Me is a rich, ‘beautifully rendered’ (What’s On Stage) production full of wonder told through poetry, dance, boxing, African acapella singing, audience interaction and integrated British Sign Language. Ali himself makes a guest appearance through verbatim text and original fight footage, with cartoon animation, pyrotechnics, magic tricks and a superb eclectic 1970’s sound track.


This performance is an abridged version of the full stage performance, performed in a boxing ring at a working gym.


Audience members are asked to note when booking that the gym will be operational at the time of the performance.  Whilst this will add to the atmosphere of the performance they will be required to take extra care whilst in the venue.


Free - Suggested donation at the event of £4 BOOK NOW > >

N.S. Rose, Author of The Bearnshaw Series

Burnley Central Library | Mon 31 Oct| Adults | 11:00 - 12:00

N.S. Rose is the author of a series of historical fiction novels following the ancient Bearnshaw family through the Plantagenet and Tudor eras. Real history is entwined with rumour and legend.

N.S.Rose will talk about and read from her first two novels in the Bearnshaw series which are based around Bearnshaw Tower, a real Tower which stood on the moor tops around Cliviger in Burnley but was undermined in the 1800s and fell. Burnley’s Towneley Hall also features in the books.

Her first novel ‘Bearnshaw: Legend of the Whyte Doe’, dramatically retells fantastical story the Tower’s prior inhabitant, the beautiful and intelligent, nature-loving Sibyl Bearnshaw. Unfortunately Sibyl was betrothed to Lord William whom she despised and was rumoured to have sold her soul to the Devil with the aid of a local witch, Mother Helston, in order to escape him. She was given the ability to shape-shift and one of her favourite guises was that of a white doe. To this day it’s said that if you venture out onto the unwelcoming Cliviger moors in darkness, you may see a huntsman and his black dogs, chasing the Milk White Doe.

The second novel in the series, ‘Bearnshaw II: Triumph of the Red Dragon’ was released in 2016 and has received excellent reviews.

Praise for N.S.Rose

“All the ingredients are present in N. S. Rose’s first novel, The Legend of the Whyte Doe: sex, drugs and a rock – Eagle Cragg.” ~ The Historical Novel Society

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Helen Sutton, Author of the Faery Chronicles

Burnley Central Library | Mon 31 Oct| Teenagers and young adults | 15:00

Helen Sutton is the author of five fantasy novels in Faery Chronicles series – Fated, Stormbringers, Tainted, Kingslayer, and Fallen – which follow the adventures of 17-year-old Bree Cadman, a normal teenage girl who finds herself flung into the strange realm of Faery.

Helen’s novels are currently available on Amazon, and are riding high in their bestseller lists – all three of the Faery Chronicles books appear in the top 100 fantasy chart.

Helen will talk about how she got into writing, her inspiration for the books and the support she received along the way. She will also be reading from her books and answering questions.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Ghost walk with Ursula Holden Gill

1hr walk ending with hot drinks

Burnley Central Library | Mon 31 Oct| All ages | 17:30


Award winning actress and first-class storyteller Ursula Holden Gill will lead a ghost walk and spooky storytelling experience around Burnley Town Centre.

Ursula has captivated audiences on BBC Television, ITV, Channel 4 and on BBC Radio and proved a hit at numerous prestigious festivals in the UK and abroad. Also at The Lowry Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company and at Opera North where she has served as an associate artist since 2009. Ursula became a full time Storyteller, Performer, Writer and Educator in 2009 having been made a resident member of the Hebden Bridge based Shaggy Dog Storytellers in 2007. Prior to this she worked both nationally and internationally as an Actress in Film, Television, Theatre and Radio and as a workshop facilitator specialising in Shakespeare, Vocal Technique and Storytelling.

“Ursula is an enchanting, highly engaging storyteller. She takes her audience on an absorbing journey of laughter, wonder and surprise. A consummate professional; one who responds to any situation with humour and character. A treat and highly recommended.” – Joanna Blake, Development Producer, BBC Writers Room, August 2015.

  • Register at the enquiry desk at arrival. Session will take place in library in the event of bad weather.

Creating Comics Workshop

Hosted by Paul Barlow, Creative Council

Burnley Mechanics | Mon 31 Oct| Suitable for ages 12 to adult | 13:00 - 15:00

Paul Barlow, graphic designer and comic book enthusiast, invites you to the Mechanics basement to help you concoct a thrilling tale in a comic book style.

Work together to produce a mini-sequential masterpiece, covering script, character design and layout. No experience necessary, just bring enthusiasm!

Paul has previously been published in the USA by Slave Labour Graphics. He has a new self published series available on comixology entitled Freedom Scorned. freedomscorned.co.uk

Tickets are free but booking is essential - places are limited BOOK NOW > >

Beyond Labels: In Young Men’s Shoes

The Hollins Technology College & Super Slow Way

Burnley Mechanics | Mon 31 Oct| Suitable for all ages | 19.00 - 20.00

This amazing spoken word performance is the culmination of an 8 month project with 11 boys aged 11 to 16 years.

The boys have worked with members of Young Identity poetry cooperative in Manchester to create a powerful and inspirational spoken word performance that gives voice to their lives, from their hopes and dreams to their anxieties and fears and everything in between. Through the spoken word The Beyond Labels collective aim to change perceptions, inspire and empower by making people see ‘beyond’ the concepts that bind and limit us.

An accompanying photography exhibition will be on display at the venue, and the performance will include a short film which the group produced in collaboration with Seal Films., around their group poem ‘Beyond Labels’.

This session promises to be interesting, thought-provoking and extremely enjoyable.

View the trailer here

Tickets are free but booking is essential BOOK NOW > >

Getting into writing- Online and In Print

With Emily Oldfield 

Calico Community Room | Tue 1 Nov| All ages | 16:00

Young writer Emily writes blogs and articles for online lifestyle guide I Love Manchester, pop culture website Louder than War and online magazine Now Then Manchester. She’s also had an article published in The Guardian newspaper and her poetry has been published online and in print.

During the session, Emily will share her enthusiasm for writing and provide an insight into getting work published in a variety of media, including how blogs and online magazines provide a new platform for writers. Emily will also read from her work and answer questions from the audience.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

How a Non-Fiction Book is Made

An Interactive Talk with Peter D Riley

Burnley Central Library | Tue 1 Nov| Families with children 8+ | 11:00 - 12:00

Peter Riley has been a writer for over thirty years and is the award-winning, international best-selling author of over 200 science books for children and teachers. He now writes full-time, having previously been a Biology teacher then later the Head of Science of a large comprehensive school in Accrington.

This interactive talk about how a non-fiction book is made will include young volunteers taking the part of the different roles involved including author, editor and picture researcher and a discussion about the types of books young people might like to write and techniques they could use.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Creative Coffee & Cakes

Win a signed Jack Vettriano print - free coffee and cakes!

The Paddock | Tue 1 Nov| Adults | 12:00 - 14.00

This informal lunchtime creative writing session will allow you to exercise your creative writing juices over delicious coffee and cakes.

You will be able to select a print by the artist Jack Vettriano to use as inspiration for a short story and then share your story with the group.  Jack Vettriano OBE is a popular painter who has had sell-out solo exhibitions in London and New York.  His paintings are thought to have a hidden narrative providing a starting point for lots of short stories.

The session will include creative writing activities to flex your creative muscles and tips on starting your own creative writing group.

There will also be a competition for the best short story and the winner will receive a Jack Vettriano print signed by the artist himself!

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Ways Into Science

A Workshop with Peter D Riley

Burnley Central Library | Tue 1 Nov| Families with children 8+ | 14:30 - 15:30

In this exciting workshop session you will help to create a fascinating science book about Space Travel and the Solar System.

You will use your own knowledge about Space and the resources supplied to create an interesting page-turner that children will want to pick up and read.

As well as learning about Space this session will help you discover what makes an interesting non-fiction book and how you can get information across in a creative and fun way.

Peter Riley is the international bestselling award winning author of over 200 books including ‘The Earth in Space’ and ‘Our Solar System’.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Teatime Poetry Workshop

with Clare Shaw

Burnley Mechanics | Tue 1 Nov| Adults | 17:00

Described by Carol Ann Duffy as ‘one of the best new young readers on the circuit’, and by the Arvon Foundation as “one of the country’s most dynamic young poets”, Clare Shaw is a popular and engaging reader of her own work.

Burnley-born-and-bred writer Clare is currently working as the Royal Literary Fellow at Huddersfield University. She’s also a regular tutor for the Poetry School, the Wordsworth Trust, The National Writer’s Centre for Wales, and the Arvon Foundation. Clare has two poetry collections from Bloodaxe, ‘Straight Ahead’ (2006), which was shortlisted for the Glen Dimplex New Writers’ Award for Poetry and attracted a Forward Prize Highly Commended for Best Single Poem, and ‘Head On’ (2012).

Join Clare for this informal Teatime Poetry workshop to develop your own poetry whilst enjoying some teatime treats.

Food and refreshments provided.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Open-mic Poetry

with Clare Shaw

Burnley Mechanics | Tue 1 Nov| Adults | 19:00

Whether you’re new to writing or an old hand, join us for a fun and friendly opportunity to share your poetry with a warm and welcoming Burnley audience.

This event is open to all – whether you’ve attended the earlier Teatime Poetry workshop or not.  Check the Teatime Poetry listing for details of how to join that event.

Open to all

The Origin of Phrases with Linda Sawley

Calico Community Room | Tue 1 Nov| Suitable for all ages | 15:00 - 16:00

Ever wondered where well known phrases come from? Why do we say ‘night night, sleep tight’? What is ‘hair of the dog’ all about? Come and learn the fascinating origin of some of these phrases. You will be surprised!



Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Practical Literature for Everyday Life

Gillian Atkinson

Central Methodist Church | Tue 1 Nov| Suitable for adults | 18:00

Gillian Atkinson’s book: “In The Mingled Midst” is the backdrop to this Session. This is a Workshop designed to help us think about the modern methods that we most often use for communicating. With Gillian’s engaging delivery, she will help people to consider how an email could be constructed as a creative tool when used with wisdom.  Participants will be encouraged to see how this form of communication can be just as enjoyable in putting together and equally worthwhile as a meaningful poem or artful form of literary writing.

The theme of Gillian Atkinson’s writings draws on current day ‘identities’ which reflect the growing trends of modern society.


Anyone interested to know more can check out her website www.gillianatkinson.me.uk

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Power of the Word

A poetry workshop for women

Burnley Women’s Centre | Tue 1 Nov| 7+ | 13:00-15:00

“Warning: Words can seriously affect your heart” (Elma Mitchell)

Whether you’re new to poetry or an old hand, you’ll find a place at this friendly workshop. You’ll be introduced to poetry that will surprise and inspire you; and writing exercises that will bring out the poetry in the shyest writer. And by the end of the workshop, you’ll discover just how powerful your words can be. Burnley born-and-bred, Clare Shaw is an award-winning poet with two Bloodaxe collections; and a regular poetry tutor at the Poetry School, the Arvon Foundation, National Writer’s Centre for Wales, and the Wordsworth Trust. Currently the Royal Literary Fellow at Huddersfield University, Clare has also worked in the field of mental health for many years; and is committed to creating services where everyone gets the support and understanding they need.

Children over 7 welcome if accompanied by an adult.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Once Around The Sun

by Burnley Youth Theatre

Burnley Arts Centre | Wed 2 Nov| Families | 3 x throughout the day

Join Willow – traveler, explorer and story collector – on an adventure as she travels for 365 days over land and sea to hear stories from different cultures. Journey with Willow as she meets new friends, celebrates their festivals and brings all of their stories together to create a new traditional tale.

Burnley Youth Theatre in collaboration with family groups across East Lancashire has created a beautiful, new and authentic piece of Early Years Family Theatre. This interactive and immersive theatre piece explores the diverse cross cultural performance styles, stories and music that exist within Lancashire communities. The production takes place inside a magical sensory space where our performers will take the families on a storytelling adventure – exploring cross-cultural tales with a specific aim to engage children aged 0 – 5 and their families.

Once inside, the performers will encourage the audience to explore the many sensory elements within and they will be guided to listen, see, smell and touch. Using live music and sound, the performance will engage even the youngest members of the audience. Following the performance, there will be a short interactive play session, offering parents and carers the opportunity to play creatively with their children.

Burnley Youth Theatre is a vibrant organisation based at our purpose built venue Burnley Arts Centre in Burnley, Pennine Lancashire. It offers drama and arts activities and opportunities for children and young people ages 0 – 25 and their families.

Free BOOK NOW > >

Creative Families Session

Pop-up Reading Lounge | Wed 2 Nov| Families with young children | 12:00

Burnley Youth Theatre’s Creative Families Session includes storytelling, singing, activities, and sensory play, aimed at families with young children.

The Youth Theatre usually delivers these sessions at the Burnley Arts Centre on Tuesdays,  11-12.


An Evening with Neil White

Burnley Mechanics | Wed 2 Nov| Adults | 19:00

Burnley Mechanics are proud to host an Evening with Neil White – Criminal Lawyer by day and bestselling Crime Fiction Author by night.

Neil White was born and brought up around West Yorkshire. He left school at sixteen but studied for a law degree in his twenties, then started writing in 1994. He now lives with his wife and three children in Preston.

Neil’s first book, Fallen Idols, was released in July 2007, when it was nominated for the Books To Talk About Award at the World Book Day Awards. He has gone on to write best-selling novels set in the towns of East Lancashire and Greater Manchester, including Beyond Evil and The Death Collector.

October will see the ebook release of Neil’s first book in an exciting new series set in Burnley, with the paperback to follow in February.

In the intimate setting of the Front Room, Neil will be talking about his legal career, how he became an author, and the inspiration for his books as well as reading from his new work. One not to be missed!

Tickets £3 Concessions £2 BOOK NOW > >

Growing Old Disgracefully with Linda Sawley

Calico Community Room | Wed 2 Nov| Suitable for all ages | 14:00 - 15:00

A funny look at the process of ageing, with stories from my own life, the internet and other people’s lives! Some laugh out loud moments that will cheer your day.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

My Life and Memoirs – Linda Sawley

Becoming an Author

Calico Community Room | Wed 2 Nov| Suitable for all ages | 15:00 - 16:00

Self-published author Linda will talk about her life in writing at this fascinating session. Having completed a Masters degree, Linda decided that she’d never write anything academic again, but found she  missed the actual act of writing, so ended up writing her autobiography ‘Everyone Else’s Children’ and setting up her own publishing company. She caught the writing bug and has now written another 10 books!



Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Burnley Stories – Pop Up Theatre

Burnley UCLan Theatre and Performance Studies Foundation Degree Students

Pop-up Reading Lounge | Thu 3 Nov| All ages | Performances at regular intervals between 10:00 - 16:00

Theatre and Performance students from Burnley UCLan will perform pieces of Verbatim Theatre documenting the lives and stories of the citizens of Burnley.

The performances will encompass multi-media and storytelling techniques to bring each story to life.

Come along and experience life through the eyes of others.


Crafts Workshop, Ground UP & Mechanics at Home

Mechanics at Home, Cath Ford

Burnley Mechanics | Thu 3 Nov| All Ages | 13:00 - 15:00

Join local art group Ground UP for a literary themed craft workshop in the Basement Studio at The Mechanics.

The sessions is open to adults of all abilities and no previous skills or experience are needed.

No need to book

Shared Reading Group

Burnley Library Staff

Burnley Market Customer Rest Area | Thu 3 Nov| Adults | 14:00 - 15:00

Staff from Burnley library will deliver a session of their regular Shared Reading Group on the Market.

Shared reading groups are a new type of reading group. They are very relaxing as there is no reading required before coming to the group. Instead each group has someone who reads aloud to the group and encourages discussion. Chatting about what has been read over “a brew and a biscuit” is a big part of the group.

All Burnley Library’s Shared Reading Groups use the same approach – typically the group will read together a short story and a poem during the session. Chatting is a big part of the group – with the emphasis being on “what it means to me”, but there is no pressure to join in.

Groups are ideal for those with visual impairments, dyslexia or other difficulties with reading or concentration but equally groups are also enjoyed by anyone who occasionally likes to take time over their reading and to discuss it with others.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Don’t Get Mad Get Even

with Colin Goodwin

Burnley Central Library | Thu 3 Nov| Adults | 14:00 - 15:00

Padiham author Colin Goodwin enjoyed a successful career as a welding and fabrication engineer, working for the past twenty years in further education, where he also taught stained glass window making.

Now retired, he is continuing to indulge his creative side by repairing anything mechanical (motor bikes, cars, model steam engines).

Colin has written and published two titles,  ‘Don’t Get Mad Get Even’ a dark comedy drama about greed and scandal in a Pennine village and the sequel ‘When in a Hole, Stop Digging’.

At this session Colin will talk about how he got into writing, what inspired his books, and read from his work.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Writing a Thriller

with Liz Flanagan & Tara Guha

Central Methodist Church | Thu 3 Nov| Adults | 18:00 - 19.00

Two novelists and friends from either side of the Pennines in fascinating conversation about writing a thriller, the current popularity of psychological thrillers and the part their home counties have had to play in their writing.

Liz Flanagan grew up in Hebden Bridge and returned there 10 years ago to raise her daughters. Until recently, Flanagan ran the Ted Hughes Arvon centre and has previously worked as a commissioning editor in the children’s book trade.  Her debut novel ‘Eden Summer’ is a young adult thriller, set in Hebden Bridge.

‘Dazzling. Utterly gripping. Writing so fresh every chapter leaves you gasping for air and SO tautly plotted it hurts. If you’re going to read one book about the true nature of friendship let it be Eden Summer.’ Brian Conaghan, Carnegie Medal shortlisted author of When Mr Dog Bites

Tara Guha is the winner of the 2014 Luke Bitmead Bursary and ‘Untouchable Things’ is her debut novel, a psychological thriller which came out in September 2015.  Born to an Indian father and English mother Tara spent her childhood in the Ribble Valley, passing many a wet day writing poetry and music. After studying English at Cambridge University she embarked on a career in PR, promoting artists including Placido Domingo & Paul McCartney. Tara now lives in Hebden Bridge with her partner and two daughters.

‘A highly accomplished debut. An intriguing group of characters draw you in to an intoxicating world of tangled relationships and insecurities. Beautifully written with an outstanding ensemble cast.’  Bestselling author Linda Green

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Cat Wetherill, The Hungry Heart: Seductive Stories from Italy

presented by Culturapedia

Burnley Mechanics | Thu 3 Nov| Adults | 19:30

Sweet indulgence!  Good Company, a bottle of wine, something to nibble, and the curvaceous Cat turning up the heat with tantalising tales and glorious singing…sensazionale!  Italian folk tales are as full bodied as their wine.  So fill your glass, relax, and fly away with Cat to the land of passion…

Cat is an internationally acclaimed storyteller and her performances excite on the night and linger long in the memory.  Cat brings a distinctive contemporary voice to an ancient art.

£10 including nibbles BOOK NOW > >

Open-mic night

Showcasing local talent

The Paddock | Thu 3 Nov| Adults | 19:30

Entertainers in all fields are invited to take part in this open-mic night, whether acoustic music, poetry, comedy or spoken word is your thing, this is an opportunity to showcase your talents.


To book a performance slot in advance, please contact info@burnley.co.uk

Free - just come along on the night

Tales from the Turf – Dave Thomas and Paul Fletcher MBE

Stories from Burnley FC

Pop-up Reading Lounge | Thu 3 Nov| Any | 12:00 - 13:00

Join Dave Thomas, author of many books about the Clarets, and Paul Fletcher MBE, ex Chief Executive of Burnley FC, for some ‘Tales from the Turf’.

The Reading Lounge is at 67 The Mall, next door to JT Lloyd, near M&S.


Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >
Roald Dahl Day!

Friday 4th November

Burnley town centre will be alive with Roald Dahl celebrations. From street performers and pop-up storytelling carousel, to Dahlicious family photos, a reading group ad a Charlie & the chocolate factory afternoon tea party

Quentin Blake Illustration Workshop

Lancashire Adult Learning

Burnley Central Library | Fri 4 Nov| All Ages | 09:30 - 12:00

Quentin Blake is probably best known for illustrating the books of Roald Dahl and has an instantly recognisable style which brought Dahl’s books to life.

During this session you will learn about the techniques used by Blake and pick up hints and tips about illustration.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

Simply Classic Bistro

Burnley Mechanics | Fri 4 Nov| All ages | 13:30 - 14.30

Book your place for a delicious Roald Dahl’s Charlie & The Chocolate Factory themed afternoon tea.

Afternoon Tea Menu
Friday 4th November 2016, 1pm-3:30pm
Chocolate Brioche Sandwiches & Chocolate Dipping Sauce
White Chocolate Cheesecake Bites
Golden Ticket Millionaires Shortbread
Charlie’s Chocolate Eclairs
Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Brownie Bites
Grandpa’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Minipots
The Chocolate Lake Hot Chocolate & Marshmallows
£16.95 for 2 people, reservations required.
Reservations 01282 664400
(£8.50pp supplement for additional person)


£16.95 for two - Booking required BOOK NOW > >

Shared Reading Group – Roald Dahl Theme

Burnley Library Staff

Burnley Market Customer Rest Area | Fri 4 Nov| Families | 14:30 - 15:30

Staff from Burnley library will deliver a session of their regular Shared Reading Group on the Market.

Shared reading groups are a new type of reading group. They are very relaxing as there is no reading required before coming to the group. Instead each group has someone who reads aloud to the group and encourages discussion. Chatting about what has been read over “a brew and a biscuit” is a big part of the group.

All Burnley Library’s Shared Reading Groups use the same approach – typically the group will read together a short story and a poem during the session. Chatting is a big part of the group – with the emphasis being on “what it means to me”, but there is no pressure to join in.

This session will be ideal for families with children, to read a Roald Dahl text and discuss it.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Dahlicious Dress Up Family Photo!

by Burnley Youth Theatre

Charter Walk Shopping Centre | Fri 4 Nov| All ages | 11;00-13:00

Dress up and have your photo taken as a Roald Dahl character.

Free - just call in

Roald Dahl Storytelling Carousel

Burnley College BTEC Level 3 Students

Pop-up Reading Lounge | Fri 4 Nov| Suitable for all ages | Various times 10.00 - 16.00

Burnley College BTEC Level 3 students bring Roald Dahl’s text and characters to life in this pop-up Storytelling Carousel. Come and see your favourite characters and stories brought to life through acting, movement and singing.

Free - just call in

Feel Good Writing

Calico Community Room | Fri 4 Nov| Suitable for adults | 14:00 - 16:00

This session will explore how creative writing can strengthen and improve health and wellbeing. It will include enjoyable activities designed to help release the words within you in a positive and creative way, and help you learn how to focus your attention in the present moment to increase self-awareness and boost your mood.  You will have the opportunity to share your experiences, but you will not be asked to share or read aloud unless you choose to.  No previous writing experience is needed.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Jan Ferrierr

Red Triangle Cafe | Fri 4 Nov| | 14:00-15:00

Jan is a published author an internationally published poet. A this session she will be talking about and reading extracts from her 3 books in the Amethyst series, reading her Burnley inspired poetry and some of her other popular poems. She will also answer questions about her life and work.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

In fair Verona we lay our scene..

Discovering Shakespeare for young and old audiences alike.

Burnley Central Library | Sat 5 Nov| All ages | 11:00 - 12:00

Storybook Theatre Company consists of two actors taking children’s stories and bringing them to life.

This original Shakespeare inspired performance has been written especially for the Burnley Literary Festival by the theatre’s director Kailey McGowan.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Shakespeare Street Theatre

Charter Walk Shopping Centre | Sat 5 Nov| All ages | 10:30 - 14:30

Burnley Youth Theatre’s Adult Rep Company will be performing Shakespeare street theatre around the town centre.


Tumhari Kahani (Your Story)

Love & Etiquette

Burnley Central Library | Sat 5 Nov| Adults | 12:00-16:00

Join local residents and reading enthusiasts who will share both old and modern South Asian Literature piece from Pakistan, Bangladesh and South East Asia. From writers Tagore, Iqbal, Ghalib and more, people from all communities are invited to take part and offer a reading or performance and share their story. Translations will be provided for cultural readings.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Rumi and The Wings of Love WORKSHOP

Love & Etiquette

Burnley Mechanics | Sun 6 Nov| | 12:00-14:00

Workshop – Jalaluddin Rumi, better known simply as Rumi, was perhaps the finest Persian poet of all time and a great influence on Muslim writing and culture. His poetry is still well known throughout the modern world, and he is one of the best-selling poets in America. His work is showcased through an afternoon of conversation, visual art and music exploring mystic words and pictures.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Rumi and The Wings of Love PERFORMANCE

Burnley Mechanics | Sun 6 Nov| | 15:00-17:00

Performance– Jalaluddin Rumi, better known simply as Rumi, was perhaps the finest Persian poet of all time and a great influence on Muslim writing and culture. His poetry is still well known throughout the modern world, and he is one of the best-selling poets in America. His work is showcased through an afternoon of conversation, visual art and music exploring mystic words and pictures.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

John Cummings Poetry Session

Prose & poetry event – on subject of 'Childhood'

Burnley Central Library | Mon 7 Nov| Adults | 14:00 - 15:00

Come along to read or listen – All welcome

Fun event featuring local actors and poets reading pieces of poetry & prose and featuring well-known performers including Marilyn Crowther, Peter Allen and Alan Hargreaves. Also self-penned verse from local poets including Mervyn Hadfield.

Event presented by local actor/director John Cummings.

In the same tradition as successful popular regular poetry events at Colne Library. An enjoyable session in which you can come along and read your favourite short piece – those wishing to do so should advise in advance or at the beginning of the event.

Free Event – with refreshments.


Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Storytelling – Why the Whales Came

by Michael Morpurgo

Burnley Mechanics | Mon 7 Nov| 7+ (families and schools) | 13:00

Multi award winning performer and storyteller Danyah Miller vividly brings to life another enchanting tale by Michael Morpurgo full of fun, mystery and adventure.

Children Gracie and Daniel have been forbidden to go near the mysterious and seemingly dangerous Birdman. But messages and clues intrigue them and, after being lost at sea in the fog and stranded on his tiny island, they begin to unravel the Birdman’s secrets, the villagers’ fears and superstitions and learn why the whales came to the island.

Tickets £10, concessions £8, schools £7 BOOK NOW > >

An Audience with Aziz Ibrahim

Formerly of The Stone Roses and Simply Red, and songwriter for Ian Brown, Paul Weller and others.

| Mon 7 Nov| | 14:00 - 15.30

The Festival is delighted to welcome musician, singer, songwriter and producer Aziz, formerly of The Stone Roses and Simply Red, and songwriter for Ian Brown, Paul Weller and others.  This amazing session, open to UCLan students and members of the public, will offer a fascinating insight into Aziz’s work including his song writing and the inspiration for his music.  He will play some songs and the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.


Tickets are free but booking is essential BOOK NOW > >

The Journey of Love inspired

Mian Mohammad Baksh and Baba Bulleh Shah

Burnley Mechanics | Mon 7 Nov| Adults | 18:00-21:00

Celebrating the unique writings of spiritual love, devotion and peace by two significant poets and writers of India and Pakistan from the 16th and 18th century.

An exceptional evening of conversation, live poetry and music which will consist of UK artists performing live with percussion and song.

Tickets are free but booking is advised BOOK NOW > >

Xercise4Less Burnley Gym

Kingsway House, Kingsway, Burnley, Lancashire, BB11 1BJ

Close to the town centre with easy rail access and on site free parking Xercise4less is one of the largest gyms in Burnley. Dedicated cardio and free weight zones give you 400 pieces of the very latest gym equipment combined with a unique combat zone with boxing ring and punch bag. The gym is on the ground floor and accessible.  The boxing ring will be the setting for the Festival performance of Mohammed Ali & Me.  Audience members are asked to note when booking that the gym will be operational at the time of the performance.  Whilst this will add to the atmosphere of the performance they will be required to take extra care whilst in the venue.


The Paddock

Hammerton St, Burnley, BB11 1NA

The Paddock is a Coffee & Cocktail bar situated ‘by the cobbles’ on Hammerton St.  It’s offers coffee and cakes in relaxed surroundings during the day, and cocktails and live music by night.


Red Triangle Cafe

160 St James’s St, Burnley BB11 1NR


Pop-up Reading Lounge

Pop-in to our Pop-Up Reading Lounge, Charter Walk Shopping Centre, any day during the Festival.

Relax and read a book, or enjoy one of the many readings and performances taking place in the space during the event.

Book Art Exhibition – An exhibition of ‘book art’ by Burnley College Art, Design and Fashion students at various locations around the town centre.  Using a variety of books the students creatively construct unusual artwork. Sometimes the recycled book is selected for their formal elements, other times for their content.  Even as our lives become ever more digitalized, the beauty of the printed page continues to hold sway. With this emotion as a starting point the students give new life to the discarded books and to illustrate the multimedia value of this alternative usage, the students have transformed traditional texts into works of genuine art.  The resulting book art is a visually stunning reinvention of its pre-existing form.

Charter Walk Shopping Centre

Burnley town centre, BB11 1AE

Charter Walk Shopping Centre is home to the Pop-Up Reading Lounge in a centrally located shop unit.  The lounge will be comfortably decorated and furnished to encourage visitors to relax and read a while, or enjoy a reading or performance.


Central Methodist Church

Hargreaves St, Burnley, BB11 1DU

Central Methodist Church is located just behind the Town Hall.  It is a friendly, open church and community venue and provides a meeting place for a variety of groups.  It also has a coffee bar.

The venue is accessible with ramp access.


Calico Community Room

Calico, Centenary Court, Croft Street, Burnley, BB11 2ED (next to the Bus Station)

The Calico Centre provides a comfortable and accessible community room for activities and workshops.


Burnley Women’s Centre

4 Nicholas St, Burnley, BB11 2EU


Burnley Women’s Centre offers a safe, female only space.  Whatever your needs, you can drop in to your local centre any time between 10am and 3pm.  The Centre delivers services aimed at ensuring that women can achieve their potential, develop their assets and skills and live safe, healthy and prosperous lives.

Burnley Mechanics

Manchester Rd, Burnley, BB11 1BH

Burnley Mechanics is a Theatre in Burnley Town Centre, a charity run by Burnley leisure Trust.  It is a grade II listed building with a long history.  It delivers a diverse programme of events throughout the year ranging from music theatre productions, family shows, comedy, storytelling, and crafts and arts workshops.

The Festival will be hosting performances in the Front Room, Basement and Loft.

The venue is fully accessible with ramp access to the front of the building and lift access to all floors.


Burnley Market Customer Rest Area

Burnley Market, Curzon St, Burnley, BB11 1BB

Burnley Market, is the place to go for great quality local produce, beauty treatments, fashion, technology and an amazing variety of food. The Market’s Customer Rest area will provide a relaxed and informal venue for some of the Festival’s group sessions.  The market is fully accessible by ramp and lift.


Burnley Central Library

Grimshaw Street, Burnley, BB11 2BD

Burnley Central Library is a centrally located library and community facility which offers a wide range of activities for children, teenagers and adults.  It’s resources include books, e-books, DVDs CDs and computers.

Nearby disabled parking is available on Thompson car park.

There is ramp access at the front of the building and a lift is available to all floors.


Burnley Arts Centre

Queens Park Rd, Burnley, BB10 3LB

Burnley Arts Centre is a purpose built arts venue which is home to Burnley Youth Theatre.  The Youth Theatre is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation offering drama and arts activities and opportunities for children and young people ages 0-25 and their families.

This fully accessible venue houses a state of the art theatre and offers free parking including disabled parking.


Schools Competition – A Game of Consequences

During October 2016 Schools in Burnley will be invited to take part in an exciting game of Consequences, with a literary twist.

Students will be asked to choose 6 to 10 sentences from their favourite children’s and young fiction books, in order to create a silly or quirky short ‘Consequences’ style story.

Schools will receive templates to submit their completed story on, and each story will be displayed in the Pop Up Reading Lounge in Charter Walk Shopping Centre.

A winning story will be selected on the basis of creativity and readability.  The winning school will receive a designed, printed and framed version of their story to display in their school.  The winning students will each receive a book token.

Stories must be completed by Friday 28 October ready for display in the Pop-Up Reading Lounge.

To request your copy of the Consequences template please contact rapp@burnley.gov.uk


500 Words Competition

‘A misty dawn broke over Burnley…’

How would you tell this story?

You are invited to submit a short story of up to 500 words using the above sentence as your starting point.


The winning short story will be read out on BBC Radio Lancashire and the winner will appear on air.

A line from the winning story will be selected to appear within the design of the pedestrianisation and public realm improvements scheme on St James’s St in Burnley Town Centre.

The winner will also receive a prize of books to the value of £100.


Entries to be submitted to:

By email:


By post:

Burnley Literary Festival, Burnley Council, Parker Lane Offices,
Burnley, BB11 2BY

Closing Date:

12 December 2016

Competition Rules:

  • The entry must be 500 words maximum, no minimum. The title and opening line provided are not included in the word count
  • The entry must contain the line ‘A misty dawn broke over Burnley’ at the start of the story
  • Entries must be in writing and in English but can be in any style
  • Entries can be submitted by post or email
  • Entries will be judged anonymously so please don’t put your name on the pages of the story.  Please submit a separate cover page with your name, address, telephone number and email address, the word count, the heading Burnley 500 Words Competition and the title of the story.
  • Where submitted by post entries must be printed on single sided paper, pages numbered, and securely fastened with a staple
  • All entries must have the title as a header on each page.
  • Entries submitted by post must have the correct postage – if insufficient postage is paid, Burnley Council will not pay the additional postage and the entry will be returned by the Post Office
  • There is no minimum age for entry
  • Stories can be aimed at any age of audience
  • Entrants must not work for or be an elected representative of Burnley Borough Council or BBC Radio Lancashire
  • Entries must be entirely the work of the entrant and by submitting an entry you are confirming the work is your own.  Any evidence to the contrary will result in immediate disqualification.
  • Entries must never have been published , self-published, published on any website, blog online forum or broadcast, nor winning or placed in any other competition.
  • Amendments cannot be made to entries after they have been submitted
  • Your story will not be returned so please keep a copy.  If you want confirmation we have received your postal entry, please enclose an SAE labelled ‘acknowledgement’.
  • The winner will be judged by a panel of judges chosen by Burnley Council
  • The judges’ decision is final and no individual correspondence can be entered into, nor will judges be able to comment on individual entries
  • Judging will be fair and unbiased
  • Copyright of the story remains with the author but Burnley Council and BBC Radio Lancashire has the unrestricted right to publish or reproduce all or any part of the winning story
  • Burnley Council has the unrestricted right to choose a selected line from the winning story and reproduce in any form or design as part of the pedestrianisation improvement works in Burnley town centre

Key dates:

  • The closing date for entries will be close of business 12 December 2016 (postal entries postmarked 12 December but received after this date will be accepted)
  • Entries will be reviewed and judged in January 2017
  • The winner will be announced in February 2017
  • The winner will be contacted by phone / email in February 2017.

Can I bring my children?

Please check the event listing for advice on age suitability.

How do I book?

Each event listing has a ‘Book Now’ link.  Some events are free but require a ticket, some are free and just call in, and a small number have a small charge.

Can I book tickets for more than one event?

You can book for as many events as you like.

Where do I find the venue?

For venue location please check our handy town centre map, click above, ‘Map’.  A description of each venue is listed, click above, ‘Venue’.

How can I contact the organisers?

Please click above, ‘Contact’. Fill in the form and we will come back to you very soon.

Are your venues accessible for those with disabilities?

Please check our venue listings, click above, ‘Venue’.  We have made sure our venue selection is as accessible as possible. If you have any specific requirements please click above, ‘Contact’, fill in the form and we will come back to you very soon.

Where can I park?

A link to Council parking facilities can be found here www.burnley.gov.uk/residents/streetscene/parking-and-cctv/parking

Charter Walk parking can be found here charterwalk.com/car-parking

How do I get there by Train?

Burnley town centre is a short walk from Burnley Manchester Road station. Trains travel to this station from Manchester, Blackburn, Leeds, York, Huddersfield, Hebden Bridge, Rochdale, Todmorden and more.

Burnley Central Station is also close to the town centre, and has trains services to/from Accrington, Colne, Preston and Blackpool and more. For more information about rail services visit www.northernrailway.co.uk

How do I get there by bus?

Burnley bus station is located in the town centre and is a short walk from each of the Festival venues.  For more information on the station and timetables visit www.lancashirebus.co.uk


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