In 2021 we returned to venues and took to the streets of Newark once again. The Festival took place over four days in July with audiences enjoying both socially distanced in-person events and a programme of online events at home. The programme included author talks from the likes of Sophie Hannah, Stuart Turton, Cathy Bramley, Mark Billingham and David Baldacci as well as writing workshops and events for families.
The Festival opened in style with Kadiatu, Aminata and Konya Kanneh-Mason as the first Festival headliners to take to the Palace Theatre stage, the first performers in the theatre since its closure in March 2020. The evening included an insightful conversation with the multi-talented musical family, plus what proved to be an emotional performance from Konya and Aminata to a sold-out (albeit socially distanced) audience.
Artistic Director Sara Bullimore said, “Welcoming the Kanneh-Mason family to the stage to a sold out audience was a lovely way to open the 2021 Festival. It was a beautiful evening of conversation and music, with not a dry eye in the house!”
Across the weekend we welcomed local writers, illustrators, makers and musicians to the lively and vibrant Literature Village. Also in Newark Market Place, the Festival’s headline sponsor Toyota introduced Festival-goers and shoppers to its latest hybrid Yaris featuring Toyota Smart Connect, their most advanced multimedia system yet.
On Sunday, Newark Castle was transformed into Wonderland, welcoming families for free activities and street performances from the delightful Rhubarb Theatre. The painted stones trail proved to be popular, with families searching the castle grounds for Alice in Wonderland themed painted stones
Alongside the main Festival there was also a special programme for schools, building upon the work in previous years. Four local Primary Schools took part in workshops led by the Young Journalist Academy and authors Jess Kidd and Kerry Drewery hosted online events for enthusiastic young readers.
We still felt the impact of the Pandemic. Local families who were self-isolating and sadly unable to attend previously booked events were delivered a Festival in a Bag filled with treats and goodies, plus could watch live streams of headline events and the online programme.
“I thought the atmosphere was better than ever this year. Well done to the team for your hard work. I loved being a part of it”.
The Bookcase Lowdham were once again the official Festival bookseller and webinar partners I Am In Print hosted the online programme.
The Festival was supported by funding from Newark and Sherwood District Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Newark Town Council and Newark Area for Arts and Leisure Foundation. Festival sponsors included Toyota, Tallents, Karrot Animation, Creative Apostrophe, Tailored Marketing Solutions and Use Locally.