BBC Radio Four's Book Club to kickstart Alnwick Story Fest with guest author Ann Cleeves

Alnwick Story Fest is back for a second year with a range of venues lined up to host workshops.
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The Alnwick Story Fest had its first run in 2023 with hopes to make Alnwick the story town of the north. This year, it’s back to deliver another successful festival and fringe.

To start off with a bang, BBC Radio Four’s Book Club, presented by James Naughtie and guest Ann Cleeves, will be recording at The Accidental Bookshop, Alnwick on Thursday, February 15.

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Each month, Book Club focuses on one author and one book, with the conversation led by the audience. For this recording, Ann will be discussing the third of her Vera Stanhope novels, Hidden Depths.

James Naughtie, Radio four presenter on 'Today' and 'Book Club', and Ann Cleeves, author and guest speaker. Left picture: BBC. Right picture: Alnwick Playhouse.James Naughtie, Radio four presenter on 'Today' and 'Book Club', and Ann Cleeves, author and guest speaker. Left picture: BBC. Right picture: Alnwick Playhouse.
James Naughtie, Radio four presenter on 'Today' and 'Book Club', and Ann Cleeves, author and guest speaker. Left picture: BBC. Right picture: Alnwick Playhouse.

Two free tickets are to be given away to anyone who would like take part and is ready to share their thoughts about the novel. To apply, contact [email protected].

This event will be broadcast on March 3 and 7 on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds.

Suzy Walker, co-founder of The Alnwick Story Fest, said: “We are delighted to invite Radio Four Book Club to the Alnwick Story Fest. It's fantastic to bring a national radio station into our local town centre and bring our community together to read a book by Ann Cleeves, a local literary legend."

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The ticketed events begin on the evening of February 16 and include stories being told across Alnwick.

Expect to find David Almond giving a talk on History, Mystery and Magic at the Alnwick Garden Event Space, Alex Niven sharing Why the North Will Rise Again at the Playhouse Studio Hub and Joyce Quinn with Angels of the North at Barter Books.

On February 17, guest speakers will be delivering workshops and talks all day from Northumberland Hall, the Playhouse Main Auditorium, the Playhouse Studio Hub and Bailiffgate.

There will be something for everyone, from the family tale We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and stories aimed at younger audiences like the Rewilding of Molly McFlynn, to a workshop that will teach the art of story and even a dash of film, brought by Alnwick’s Young Filmmakers.

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The final day day of the festival will be February 18, where you will find stuff going on a the Alnwick Garden Event Space, the Playhouse Main Auditorium and the Playhouse Studio Hub.

On this day you can learn new skills at the workshops How to Write a Short Story in One Hour and Writing Memoir, or there’s something a little more humorous with Witch Hunt! and How to Get Some Haggitude.

If the ticketed events aren’t enough, be sure to enjoy the Fringe events to mingle with the authors, festival goers, writers, poets and musicians. For the evenings, Music Open Mike Nights will take place on Friday, from 8pm at the Tanners Arms, and Sunday, from 3pm at the Ale Gate. On Saturday, the Tanners Arms will host the Real Ale and All Comers Music night from 3pm.

Day time fringe events include all sorts of activities from interactive bible stories for children, to cream teas and choir performances, and even rediscovering the witch trials and executions.

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Finally, amongst the plethora of exciting events, don’t forget to pop into the Accidental Bookshop on Narrowgate for book signings taking place all weekend, you never know who you might meet.

For the full programme and to buy tickets, please visit: www.alnwickstoryfest.com.

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