133 libraries taking part ~ free events programme ~ Wednesday 12 June to Sunday 16 June 2024

Manchester City of Literature is preparing to celebrate the joy of libraries with Greater Manchester and the world when the Festival of Libraries takes place from Wednesday 12 to Sunday 16 June 2024. Sharing their love of libraries will be authors, poets, performers, artists and historians, including Konnie HuqLYR (Simon ArmitageRichard Walters and Patrick Pearson) and Christopher Eccleston. Taking part are the city region’s 133 libraries, including the internationally renowned Central LibraryChetham’sThe Portico Library and John Rylands Research Institute and Library, and everyone is invited.

Interior of Portico Library

The Festival of Libraries programme will be full of imagination, ideas, connections and discussion with exhibitions, author talks, performances, installations, live music, workshops and international collaborations which are all free to take part in. The festival will also remind people the breadth of what libraries offer and the incredible contribution they make to communities as places that not only give access to books, but provide services, learning and creativity; all with an open invitation to anyone. As a UNESCO City of Literature, Manchester believes passionately in the value of libraries and the Festival of Libraries, which is Arts Council England funded, is a reflection of this. 

Bringing her Fearless Fairy Tales to the festival’s fun-filled Look for a Book trail is TV and radio presenter, screenwriter and children’s author Konnie Huq; who holds the record for being the longest Blue Peter presenter (1997-2008) and is an ambassador for the Prince's Trust and British Asian Trust. Taking place during May half term this Family Friendly adventure is for book hunters everywhere to immerse themselves into, with clues to follow and evidence to gather in the quest to discover a copy of Fearless Fairy Tales. The hiding places will be libraries across Greater Manchester and the green spaces that surround them and the clues will be set by a team of librarian super sleuths.

Konnie Huq, says, “I’m thrilled that Fearless Fairy Tales is such a big part of Festival of Libraries 2024, off on a great adventure of its own around Greater Manchester’s green and community spaces for Look For A Book! I'm proud to be supporting libraries and our young people should be too, this is such a fun way to share the range of services and activities they offer. Good luck treasure hunters and I look forward to seeing the winners in June!”

It is with eager anticipation and considerable excitement that band LYR have been commissioned to write and record a new song for the Festival of Libraries. LYR is made up of British Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, singer-songwriter Richard Walters and multi-instrumentalist and producer Patrick Pearson and performances include Green Man, Latitude and Blue Dot festivals. The track will be released in June and will be performed live at a special event taking place on Wednesday 12 June at Manchester Central Library. There will be further artist collaborations to look out for at the showcase!

Grand interior of The John Rylands

Simon Armitage, says, “I wrote some of my early poems “cramming in a carrel at Central Library” so it’s a real thrill to be performing there, giving something back to the institutions which were a gateway to personal enlightenment and a place to get out of the rain.”
Actor, and Salfordian, Christopher Eccleston, who Festival of Library lovers will know for his critically acclaimed film, television and stage work – including Our Friends in the NorthShallow Grave and the soon to be released The Young Woman And The Sea – is the first name to be announced for the Inspired by Libraries talks. These are a flagship series of events in the festival programme that give local residents and library users the chance to see a well-known figure in conversation about how libraries have impacted their lives, as well as a chance to put forward their own questions. Previous speakers have included Michael Rosen, Gary Younge, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Stuart Maconie, Cheddar Gorgeous, Simon Armitage, Guy Garvey and Radzi Chinyanganya. 
Christopher Eccleston, says, “As an actor words are the tools of my trade. When I was growing up in Salford the local library provided a vibrant lifeline to the wider world. Libraries feed people's interests and passions and provide access leading to connections being forged. I’m excited to be at Manchester City of Literature’s Festival of Libraries this year to share how I have been inspired and supported by libraries.”
Luke Burton, Director Libraries, Arts Council England, says, “The Festival of Libraries showcases the fantastic range of libraries in Greater Manchester, from the Central Library and Manchester Poetry Library to the equally important local libraries which support their communities so well. I’m delighted that we are supporting this year’s festival through our National Lottery Project Grants programme and I’m sure that local people and visitors will enjoy the huge range of talks, performances and exhibitions alongside taster sessions for Lego and creative writing.”

The full programme for the Festival of Libraries 2024 will be announced in early May. This is the fourth Festival of Libraries. In 2023 the festival included 111 events and involved Greater Manchester’s whole library network making it a unique celebration.

Chetham's Library | Festival of Libraries

Festival of Libraries’ partners include: Archives+, Central Library, Chetham’s Library, John Rylands Research Institute and Library, Manchester Poetry Library, NHS Libraries, The Portico Library, Working Class Movement Library, University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Institute Cervantes Library and Greater Manchester libraries (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan).

For further information visit: www.manchestercityofliterature.com/project/manchester-libraries-festival/