Wimbledon’s much-loved annual BookFest will run again this year – in a slightly different form. The 2020 festival, entitled Last Days of Summer, will take place on 12 and 13 September from an open marquee on the common. Events will also be digitally streamed so that no-one misses out.
Festival director, Fiona Razvi announced the move after government guidance changed, permitting outdoor performing arts events.
She said: “One of Wimbledon BookFest’s USPs is its beautiful setting in Wimbledon Common. There is something quite magical when events are hosted there – on the edge of London but in a place so connected with nature.”
Ms Razvi acknowledged the positive impact which virtual arts events have had during the long months of lockdown, but said there is “no substitute for the live shared experience.”
“We sense a growing desire to do something live, and while we will be filming and relaying events digitally, where possible, we feel we can provide a safe outside space to host a scaled down event.”
From its bespoke open marquee, the festival will feature the usual mix of inspiring speakers and bestselling authors for adults and children. While the full programme is yet to be announced, the journalist, author, broadcaster and table tennis player, Matthew Syed has been confirmed as a keynote speaker.
Festival organisers have followed government guidance and are working with Merton Council and Wimbledon and Putney Commons to prioritise the safety of visitors, performers and staff with ticket-only events and reduced capacity to ensure social distancing.
Wimbledon BookFest’s Word Up education programme will run as usual in October, with ten author events digitally relayed to participating schools. To mark Black History Month, BookFest will donate a selection of books by black authors to the library of every Merton state school.
During lockdown the festival ran the Robert Graves Poetry Prize as well as its Young Writers’ Competition, which attracted a record number of entries from 53 south London schools.
For the latest news on the line-up visit the Wimbledon BookFest website, where tickets will be available in late August.