Arts Derbyshire


Derby Book Festival 2024 opens on Thursday

Derby Book Festival 2024 opens on Thursday

Derby Book Festival’ Summer events 2024 open on Thursday 30 May with 35 events planned in venues across the city over the following six days.  Tickets can be booked online at or in person or by phone at QUAD and Derby Theatre for the events they are hosting.

The Festival, which will be held from 30 May – 5 June, is funded by Arts Council England and the University of Derby, with sponsorship from several local businesses and individuals.

This year’s Festival is a ‘hybrid’ with in-person and recorded events.  A Digital Pass is available giving access to 13 recorded events, which will be available to watch for six weeks after the Festival ends (from Saturday 8 June to Saturday 20 July) for £30.


Highlights of the Festival will include Patrick Grant, fashion expert and co-host/judge of BBC TV’s The Great British Sewing Bee, who will be talking about his biography , Less, and his passion for sustainable fashion at a special event in Derby Theatre to be sponsored by Smith Partnership; Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee on her memoir An Uneasy Inheritance and LBC radio presenter and political commentator James O’Brien on How They Broke Britain, both sponsored by Geldards.

This year, there will also be a one-off Festival event with BBC newsreader, presenter and reporter, Clive Myrie who will be in conversation with former BBC Moscow Correspondent, James Rodgers.  This will be held on Monday 29 July at Derby Theatre from 7.30 – 9pm.  Tickets are on now on sale:


The Festival includes a range of genres with something for all ages and interests including:

  • Historian Alison Weir on Mary I: Queen of Sorrows and An Audience with architectural historian Dan Cruickshank
  • The Countess of Carnarvon on The Earl and the Pharoah: From the Real Downton Abbey to the Discovery of Tutankhamun, sponsored by Boolers
  • Arthur Parkinson, gardener and chicken keeper on Planting a Paradise, sponsored by EMBC
  • Mick Conefrey on George Mallory and the 1924 Everest expedition, sponsored by Geldards
  • Novelists Abigail Dean on her second novel, Day One, Sunjeev Sahota on The Spoiled Heart, set in the Peak District, and Francis Spufford on his latest novel, Cahokia Jazz
  • Children and families’ activities including Bookworms: The Kids Takeover at Electric Daisy (sponsored by Smith Partnership), FREE Storytelling sessions at Waterstones, Derbion and Derby Museums and Manga workshops at Art in the Park in Markeaton Park.

The Festival is keen to support debut authors each year and there will be a BSL interpreted event at QUAD on Monday 3 June with deaf author (and debut) Sarah Marsh and one of this year’s Observer Top Ten debut authors, Elizabeth O’Connor, sponsored by Pennine Healthcare.

The Festival will include have a Takeover Day at Derby College (Roundhouse) on Sunday 2 June with seven events, all sponsored by Darwin Escapes, and four Writing Workshops.  Visitors can buy a Day Pass for £35 which enables them to attend all seven events.  The Day winds up with the fiercely contested Annual Festival Book Quiz.

Professor Keith McLay, Provost (Learning and Teaching) at the University of Derby and Chair of Derby Book Festival, said:  “We are delighted that the varied programme of events on offer is again proving popular and we are looking forward to welcoming people back to the Festival and those visiting for the first time. It is a pleasure to have familiar names such as Polly Toynbee, James O’Brien and Dan Cruickshank speaking, as well as debut authors. The Festival’s cultural contribution to the city aligns well with the University’s civic agenda, and it is pleasure to support and foster the pleasure found in books, reading and lifelong learning.”

This year the Festival organisers are presenting three programmes with the next one, the Autumn Edition to be held from 15 – 18 November and tickets go on sale in mid November.

Copies of the Festival programme are available from all Festival venues, as well all libraries and tourist offices. The Festival is organised in partnership with all the major arts and cultural partners in the city, including Marketing Derby.

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