By Alison Steel

Hastings is set to welcome award-winning and best-selling writers, performers and poets next month at the town’s newest festival.

The impressive line-up includes authors Patrick Gale, Sophie Hannah, Simon Mawer, Alison Moore, Michael Arditti, Mavis Cheek, Rianna Walcott, Rachel Malik, John McCullough and Maggie Alderson.

Patrick Gale

Sophie Hannah

Rianna Walcott

Hastings LitFest will feature workshops, author talks, panel discussions, films, plays, appearances by actors Julian Sands and Amanda Burton and performances by renowned chamber ensemble The London Mozart Players and comedy theatre company The Pantaloons.

Workshop topics for the three-day festival from August 31 to September 2, include song writing, sports journalism, scriptwriting, marketing and promotion for authors, and flash fiction.

The festival’s patron is St Leonards-born playwright, screenwriter and director Sir David Hare. He says: “Our aim is to provide a space and opportunity for writers to explore their voices, discover their creativity and to find ways in which they can pursue their ability to express themselves in writing.”

Sir David will introduce a special screening of Oscar-winning film The Hours, starring Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman, for which he wrote the screenplay.

The Guardian’s chief crime fiction reviewer Laura Wilson will be hosting a crime fiction panel featuring crime writers Marnie Riches, Chris Curran, David Videcette and Sheila Bugler.

A panel discussion, on writing for children and young people, will be chaired by Sunday Times children’s books editor Nicolette Jones. Award-winning authors Kathryn Evans, Kate O’Hearn, Katie Dale, Elizabeth Dale and Kevin Brooks will be sharing their secrets.

Other events during the three-day festival include performances of plays, film screenings, a poetry evening, and a book fair at the Stade Hall.

The festival has been running three competitions, for a crime novel, a short story and for sports journalism. Entries for the short story and crime novel competitions are now closed, but applications for the Hastings United FC Sports Writer of the Year Award (18+) and the Hastings United FC Junior Sports Journalist of the Year Award (under 18) can be made until July 31. More information is available at:

The winners of all competitions will be announced on September 2 at the Royal Victoria Hotel, where actor Amanda Burton will be presenting prizes.

Festival directors and co-curators Sam Davey and Marcia Woolf have been delighted by widespread support for the new festival.

Marcia says: “We are extremely pleased with the backing we’ve received – from sponsors, supporters and around 60 volunteers. We had no idea how well it would go, but it’s been amazing, and we’re planning to promote Hastings LitFest as an annual event in the town’s festival calendar.”

The festival is still looking for volunteers and anyone who is interested should email [email protected] Training for volunteers will take place in early August.

Hastings LitFest sponsors and supporters include the Catherine Cookson Charitable Foundation, Green Insurance Group, Gaby Hardwicke, Manningtons Accountants, John D Clarke Architects, the Magdalen and Lasher Educational Foundation, Hastings United FC, the True Crime Museum, Crooked Cat Books and Hastings Independent Press.  Venues include the Opus Theatre, Jerwood Gallery, the White Rock Hotel, Kino Teatr St Leonards, the Electric Palace Cinema, and Hastings Library.

Hastings LitFest runs from Friday, August 31 to Sunday, September 2.
Find out more and book tickets at

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