Programme announced for Keswick’s much-loved Words by the Water Festival
Mon 22 Apr

Programme announced for Keswick’s much-loved Words by the Water Festival

Words by the Water is thrilled to unveil the lineup for this year's festival being held at Theatre by the Lake on 5 - 9 June.

Highlights of this popular festival include events that explore Shakespeare’s language with Ben and David Crystal, spirituality with Marie Elsa-Bragg, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine with journalist Luke Harding and comedy with Robin Ince and Natalie Haynes.

Regional talent features strongly across the festival programme; from Bookcase Day and On our Doorstep Day which highlights Cumbrian writers, to radio personality Stuart Maconie, Kerry Irving (and the dogs!) and Helen Rebanks on her debut book, The Farmer’s Wife. Other themed days include Women and History, Journeys and Identity and the Self.

In addition to engaging author talks and discussions, there’s an array music, theatre and workshops to enjoy across the weekend; experience the one-woman show by theatre company On a Role, which delves into the life of beloved children’s author, Enid Blyton, tap your feet along to the Bookshop Band and get creative in an interactive workshop.

As a prelude to the festival, catch Alexander McCall-Smith, author of Mma Ramotswe and the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in Botswana, on 10 May.

Leah Varnell Festival Director said: “It is wonderful that we are putting on a 5 day festival of words and ideas again in the beautiful Lake District. It has felt like a long year with no festival in 2023, so it is very exciting to be back in 2024 and working alongside Lucy and Gwenda Matthews of Bookends to bring debate, discussion and entertainment in Theatre by the Lake this June.”

Lucy Matthews, Bookends Director said: “We are delighted to have an increased role in programming this much loved festival. We hope that everyone will leave feeling restored, nourished and revitalised by the wealth of words and ideas on offer.”

Melvyn Bragg, Festival Co-President said: “Welcome back to Keswick and what has been called ‘the jewel of literary festivals’, Words by the Water.”   

Marie-Elsa Bragg, Festival Co-President said: “Cumbria has a profound literary history to build on. Words by the Water has brought writers to experience the wild beauty of our mountains and lakes whilst readers of every generation share and debate their ideas. This year, I am grateful to have been asked to step forward again as co-president in the hope that this cultural hub will continue.” 

Speaker and Guardian Journalist Polly Toynbee said: “During the past two decades, for so many book lovers (and authors) the calendar reminds us to head to Keswick and a trip to Derwentwater for the stimulation, fun, companionship (and good eating) of Words by the Water.”