WORKSHOP: Let’s Do Words!: Writing for Wellbeing and Resilience

Join Bethan Rees to explore the world of wellbeing-based creative writing, where the goal is: “I have written something down”… That’s it, you win!

Creative writing for wellbeing allows you to explore your feelings, the environment, your imaginative ideas and just about anything, without the pressure of spelling, grammar or inspiration holding you back. The only thing in the way of your creative limits is yourself.

Bethan will set small, attainable and fun writing exercises to encourage you to write about whatever is on your mind in that present moment.

Everything is down to choice: how deep you go, how much you share with others and how you interpret the exercises set. There will also be flexible safety guidelines in place, which will be shared at the beginning of the session.

New data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that depression rates have doubled since the Covid-19 outbreak began. Wellbeing activities, including expressive writing, have been found to boost mood, enhance wellbeing, reduce symptoms of depression, reduce intrusion and avoidance symptoms post-trauma, and even improve your working memory (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005).

Bethan Rees is currently studying for an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She is an experienced creative writing tutor who has led workshops in person and online. As a writer she has been published in a number of online and print poetry magazines and is working on chapbook/poetry pamphlet. Although she is not a counsellor, if anything should cause concern or a need for further exploration during your writing experiences, she will have signposted options available.

Note: this workshop has limited places and advanced booking is recommended.
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Age guidance: 16+

Location: Festival Hub

Please note: this event will take place in our Festival Hub on the Piazza; however, as Bethan has tested positive for covid and is unable to travel, she will appear via Zoom on a large screen at the Hub to teach the workshop.

WORKSHOP: Illustrating Children’s Books

Ever fancied producing a children’s book? Open to adults and families alike, this interactive workshop with artist Lucy Farfort will introduce you to children’s picture book illustration, looking at the basics of character design, and weaving text with imagery.

Lucy Farfort is an Illustrator and Author of dual Caribbean-English heritage. She knew from a young age, that she wanted to make a living out of her great love of drawing, however growing up in a small town in the 80s, meant she never saw children’s books with kids in who looked like her, and it was a love of manga comics and animation that initially drew her towards an illustration career.

Lucy studied Illustration and Animation at Manchester Metropolitan University, and after graduating in 2002 began work as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. As an avid fan of picture books, Lucy’s work veered increasingly towards story, and after years of freelancing whilst working a day job, she eventually followed up on encouragement to seek work as a children’s book illustrator.

In 2017 Lucy won first prize in illustration for Faber Children’s inaugural FAB Prize competition and has gone on to work with Little Tiger Press as an illustrator on their Our Town picture book series, Knight’s Of and Scholastic. This year Lucy is debuting as an author and will have a story published in the ‘Faber Book of Bedtime Stories’ out in Oct, and her own picture book ‘In Our Hands’ will be coming from Tate Publishing in September.

Please note, this workshop replaces the one advertised in our brochure with Onyinye Iwu.

This event is FREE, however, due to limited event capacity booking is required.
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Age guidance: all ages (under 16s should be accompanied by an adult)

Location: Festival Hub


SCRAPtastic Stories

Join fairandfunky for SCRAPtastic Stories – a creative, crafty story session.

Enjoy readings of Someone Swallowed Stanley, a brilliant children’s book with a strong environmental message about littering, and make a jellyfish or fish mobile from recycled materials.

A drop-in session with readings of the story at 11.30am, 1.00pm and 2.30pm.

Free (no booking required)
However, you can make a donation to the festival if you wish 

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Location: MakerWorld

Age guidance: all ages (Under 16s should be accompanied by an adult)

For accessibility please call the Piazza Centre on 01484 534594

Open Mic hosted by Talking Zebras

Join local writing group Talking Zebras for a welcoming Open Mic session in our Festival Hub.

Bring your poems and other short works to read out in front of a receptive audience or simply come along to listen and enjoy.

Thursday 31 March


Free (booking recommended due to venue restrictions)
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Age guidance: 16+

Location: Festival Hub


Spoken Word in the UK

Celebrated performance poets Rose Condo, Kate Fox and Sundra Lawrence discuss a new comprehensive anthology exploring the vast array of different styles and characteristics that make spoken word performance in the UK unique.

Spoken Word in the UK draws together a wide range of scholars, critics and practitioners to give a new perspective on performance poetics. It’s a crucial and ground-breaking companion for those teaching and studying spoken word, theatre, performance, literature and culture.

Rose Condo is an award-winning Canadian poet based in Salford. She studied Theatre & Drama at the University of Winnipeg and earned her MA in Theatre & Development Studies at the University of Leeds. Rose has been writing, performing and teaching for over 20 years, and she is the Mentoring Manager (North) for Arts Emergency. Her debut poetry collection After the Storm was published in 2020 and she has won awards for her projects and shows, which include, The Empathy Experiment, The Geography of Me and How to Starve an Artist.

Kate Fox is a stand-up poet, writer, broadcaster and speaker. She has been a performer on and contributor to many programmes on BBC TV and radio, and Poet in Residence for the Great North Run, Glastonbury Festival and R4’s Saturday Live. She has supported acts including Linton Kwesi Johnson, Hollie McNish, John Cooper Clarke and John Hegley and is a headline act in her own right. She has written two comedy series called The Price of Happiness for Radio 4 and her current touring show Where There’s Muck There’s Bras about notable northern women. Kate also a campaigner for the voices of Northerners, the working class, women and the neurodiverse to be heard.

Sundra Lawrence is a UK-based poet and writer of Tamil heritage. Her work visits themes of migration, religion and home. She is an experienced creative writing tutor and has performed her work across the UK and internationally. Sundra’s work has been broadcast on BBC TV and radio and is published in numerous anthologies. She is a Malika’s Poetry Kitchen Alumni and is the founder and director of Write Lines. In 2021, she won the Aryamati Poetry Prize.

Free (booking recommended)
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Age guidance: 14+ (Under 16s should be accompanied by an adult)

Location: Festival Hub


Adventures Around Our Blue and Green Planet

An interactive talk with Leisa Stewart-Sharpe, author of children’s books Blue Planet II and The Green Planet.

Pull on your backpack, lace up your boots and set off on an adventure around our wonderful world! Discover what makes Earth so special and experience what it looks, feels, tastes, smells and sounds like in some of the world’s most extreme places – from Mount Everest to the deep ocean.

Along the way, you’ll find out about changes happening to the planet and meet real-life superheroes – Earth Shakers – who are helping to save it. Plus you’ll discover handy tips on how small changes you make at home can make a BIG difference to the world.

Originally from Australia, Leisa Stewart-Sharpe writes stunning non-fiction and picture books, including Blue Planet II and The Green Planet, part of a major new children’s non-fiction series in collaboration with BBC Earth. Her book What a Wonderful World takes readers on a journey around the planet and her latest book How Does Chocolate Taste on Everest? is out in March.

Festival Hub, (next to Toyland) Piazza, Princess Alexandra Walk HD1 2RS

Free (booking recommended)
Book Tickets

Age guidance: 7+ (under 16s should be accompanied by an adult)