Record crowds for Rochdale's third annual Literature and Ideas Festival

Posted 20 Nov 2015 by Clancy Mason in Events

Record crowds turned out this weekend to watch top names including Dom Joly, Helen Lederer and David Starkey take part in Rochdale's third annual Literature and Ideas Festival.

More than 2,000 tickets were sold, the most in Rochdale Literature Festival history, with hundreds more attending unticketed events throughout the weekend and earlier in October at over 30 venues across the borough.

The festival proved a big hit, with sold out performances on each day of the event, which took place from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 October 2015.

'Huge coup for the borough'

Councillor Janet Emsley, Cabinet Member for Culture, Health and Wellbeing at Rochdale Borough Council, said: "I attended many inspiring events throughout the weekend and am incredibly proud to say that this fantastic cultural event gets better and better each year. To attract such big names is a great coup for our borough and something we're really proud of. We've had some incredible feedback from people who attended, with visitors using words like 'inspirational', 'mind expanding', 'emotional' and 'hilarious' to describe the many events.

"I'd like to thank all the festival staff, volunteers and local arts groups, who put together this stand-out celebration of culture, arts and ideas."

The festival kicked off on Friday, with a hilarious session with actress and comedienne Helen Lederer, who got big laughs from the audience as she talked about her new comedy novel 'Losing It'.

Helen LedererRochdale-born DJ Andy Kershaw also entertained the crowds at the Flying Horse pub with tales of growing up in Rochdale, organizing music events at Leeds University, his career in radio and television, including presenting Live Aid, and reporting from around the world.


           'Big names including David Starkey CBE, Dom Joly and Helen Lederer'

Other highlights included a lecture from well-known Historian David Starkey CBE, who told the sell-out crowd about the Magna Carta and its relevance to the modern day, 800 years after the document, which changed the course of British history, was first created.

Star of Trigger Happy TV, Dom Joly and story teller, comedian, author, poet and broadcaster Gervase Phinn, also proved big draws during the festival.

A packed children's programme saw scores of youngsters transform themselves into pirates and complete a treasure hunt at various town centre venues, including the Wheatsheaf and Exchange shopping centres.

The young people also got in on the drama, with a sell-out crowd enjoying Kristina Stephenson's "Sir Charlie Stinky Socks" at Touchstones Rochdale, while children's entertainer John Piper returned with his timeless puppet show.

Over in Middleton, Poet Lemn Sissay performed an energetic set at Hopwood Hall College, while Middleton Library hosted a well-attended event by author Frances Brody, who talked about her "Kate Shackleton Mysteries".

Author Sathnam Sanghera and Coronation Street writer Jonathan Harvey also made appearances, alongside playwright, novelist and critic Bonnie Greer OBE.

'Great feedback from both visitors and writers'

And the positive feedback didn't just come from visitors, with Ms Greer describing her appearance at the festival as "a very moving day" and Rochdale itself as a "very powerful place".

The Fringe Festival, "Outsiders in Literature" organised by All Across the Arts, was also part of the Festival. It saw 20 local authors, poets and artists enjoy three hours of creativity and fun in Rochdale's Bar Vibe.

The festival is organised by Rochdale Borough Council and is funded mainly through the Maskew Bequest. Funding is also received from ticket sales and sponsorship. Sponsors this year were Bright Books, Hopwood Hall College, JGM Design Agency and First Bus.

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