About Us

Durham Book Festival is a Durham County Council event produced by New Writing North and is part of Durham County Council’s exciting festivals programme.

The festival takes place in and around the beautiful city of Durham each October. In 2023, the festival will take place at Gala Theatre and Clayport Library. All Gala events will be live-streamed so if you are unable to make it to Durham, you can also watch from home.


Every year the Durham Book Festival invites a range of thinkers, writers and performers to appear. Events at previous festivals have included appearances from Philip Pullman, Bill Bryson, Pat Barker, Jung Chang, PD James and Simon Armitage.

Between 2013 and 2022 the festival also hosted the announcement of the Gordon Burn Prize, celebrating winners including Benjamin Myers, Denise Mina and Preti Taneja.

Alongside more traditional author events, Durham Book Festival commissions new writing each year across all forms. Previous festival commissions have included a dance-theatre retelling of Rapunzel from Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy; historian David Olusoga’s essay Black and British: Growing up in the North East; and journalism examining the legacy of the Miners’ Strike, from writers including Richard Benson and Anne McElvoy.

Our commissions originate in Durham and are often available online or published in the national media.

Working across County Durham

The festival has reached all corners of County Durham via a Big Read programme, which in previous years saw the distribution of 3000 copies of a chosen book to schools, libraries, businesses, prisons and to students all over Durham. In 2018 the festival launched a Little Read scheme, with the aim of reaching some of the youngest readers in the County.

Each year the festival works with local schools in a number of ways. We run a series of author events for local schools and also offer school-based poetry workshops working in partnership with Durham University and our Festival Laureate – an acclaimed poet, who is invited to produce a new piece of work to be premiered at the festival each year.


Founded in 1990, Durham Book Festival is one  of the country’s oldest literary festivals.

For many years it was a well-kept secret in the region’s cultural calendar, but it has grown significantly in recent years. The festival is now part of Durham County Council’s festival programme, and since 2011 has been produced by New Writing North, with support from  Durham University and Arts Council England, as well as a range of trusts and foundations and  corporate sponsors.


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