Village to host celebration of books, poetry, music and film

A new three-day book festival due to take place in Hillsborough this weekend promises to provide visitors and residents with a new perspective on the picturesque Georgian village.

Pictured (l-r) are Festival Curator Jan Carson, John Hewitt Society General Manager Hilary Copeland, John Hewitt Society Chair Tony Kennedy OBE and Alderman Allan Ewart MBE.

The Hillsborough Festival of Literature & Ideas will take place from April 27 - 29, providing an attractive culture and arts event in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area.

Founded by The John Hewitt Society, the festival team have worked with local groups to ensure that community involvement is at the centre of the event, with participation and support from the Village Centre, Historic Royal Palaces, churches, bars and local retailers.

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Funded by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the festival offers more than 30 events taking place throughout the village, with a diverse line-up encompassing poetry, prose, music, film and talks.

Participating artists coming to the village for the first time include: one of Ireland’s most prolific and accomplished prose writers, Donal Ryan; Scottish First Book Award-winner Kerry Hudson; Seamus Heaney Centre Fellow Doireann Ní Ghríofa and NI Music Prize-winner Joshua Burnside.

Jan Carson, novelist and curator of this year’s festival, said: “It was such a challenge to programme events and activities which reflected the village’s heritage, diversity and stunning surroundings.

“We felt it important to include the entire community in this, the first year, of what we hope to be an annual event. There’s a wide range of talks, readings, workshops and other activities included in our programme, each event hosted by one of the village’s iconic buildings.”

The festival also offers a number of events for children and families, including The Great Hillsborough Book Hunt, writing and craft workshops, and Writers in Schools visits in association with Poetry Ireland.

The festival is supported by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and is being delivered by the team behind the John Hewitt International Summer School, a six-day festival of culture and creativity, taking place July 23 - 28 in Armagh.

Tony Kennedy, chair of The John Hewitt Society, said: “We are delighted to work with the people of Hillsborough and Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council in bringing an exciting new festival to the area. We are looking forward to this inaugural event being the beginning of an annual celebration of literature and ideas.”

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature at Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: “Visitors to the first Hillsborough Festival of Literature and Ideas have much to look forward to this Spring. We wish The John Hewitt Society and all those involved the very best of luck with this year’s programme and look forward to what promises to be a tremendous new arts and cultural event.”

To view the full festival programme and book tickets log on to