Stellar array lined up for ChipLit Fest

Brian Blessed. Picture by Paul Marc Mitchell. NNL-161204-132522001
Brian Blessed. Picture by Paul Marc Mitchell. NNL-161204-132522001

A host of fascinating and entertaining writers descends on Chipping Norton for the fifth Chipping Norton Literary Festival.

Celebrities and authors presenting sessions at ChipLitFest include the irrepressible actor, mountaineer and writer Brian Blessed, author Fay Weldon, celebrity chef Prue Leith and psychologist Oliver James.

Mike Gayle. Picture by Lilas Speis NNL-161204-132534001

Mike Gayle. Picture by Lilas Speis NNL-161204-132534001

Among others appearing are Joanne Harris, David Nicholls, Martin Hughes-Games, Stuart Maconie, Mark Billingham and Will Gompertz. There will be a children’s programme curated by local authors Jo Cotterill and John Dougherty.

“The festival offers something for everyone – lovers of nature, food, sci-fi, romance, politics, biography, poetry, Shakespeare and the Brontes. And there will be a ferociously-fought literary quiz on Saturday night,” said festival director Jenny Dee.

“It is our fifth year and ChipLitFest is now a regular spring fixture in town. With over 50 events running across the weekend - from April 21 – 24 - it brings in more visitors to town than any other event throughout the year. Last year it sold over 2,500 tickets.

“The festival has developed its own unique appeal. Unlike many other literary festivals held in marquees and parks, every session is right in the heart of the town using our fantastic range of public venues: The Theatre, the town hall, the Methodist Church and the library as well as The Chequers and the Crown & Cushion inns.”

Oliver James, picture by Bella Bathurst. NNL-161204-132511001

Oliver James, picture by Bella Bathurst. NNL-161204-132511001

This year it extends to Glyme Hall on the Burford Road for the first time and there will be a free shuttle bus service from the town square run by Pulham’s Coaches.

The 2016 festival has a distinctly foodie flavour. WineBear in West Street and Wild Thyme restaurant in New Street are each hosting some tempting tasting events linked to food writers and bloggers. The Albion Gallery is holding an exhibition of illustrations for children’s books.

“Every year the involvement from the town’s businesses grows bigger and bigger,” said Ms Dee. “Most of our sponsors are Chippy businesses and we are incredibly grateful to them all.

“The authors always comment on the town’s friendly welcome and it’s fantastic to see businesses here supporting the event and benefiting from the visitor numbers.”