The team at Huddersfield Literary Festival defied the pandemic to produce a virtual version of their annual event with performers and viewers joining from around the world.

Since its inception in 2006 the Huddersfield Literary Festival has become an increasingly popular part of the literary calendar. Unfortunately, this year COVID 19 had other ideas. However, the team worked around the restrictions to produce a fantastic digital event bringing people together from all over the globe.

Highlights included Sylvia Plath expert Heather Clark who joined from the States. Meanwhile Alexander McCall Smith, creator of the No1 Ladies Detective Agency dialled in from Edinburgh ad DI Banks creator Peter Robinson joined from Canada.

Food writer Ching de Huang was among those making a virtual guest appearance.

It was a truly international feel with audiences logging in from as far afield as Texas, Florida and Nairobi to participate in author talks, discussions and workshops.

Meanwhile, two physical projects – a Lockdown Lantern Installation in the courtyard of the LBT and a Book Trail across the town in partnership with Woven Festival – will remain for anyone taking socially distanced walks until Easter Monday.

The event exceeded all expectations with revenue beating projections by 25%. Indeed, lockdown may even have helped with any people appreciating the chance to join virtually who might normally have struggled to attend in person.

“We’re delighted with the response to our digital Festival and would like to thank our regular audiences for sticking with us in this less familiar format. We were also excited to see new audiences joining us from across the globe.” said Festival Director Michelle Hodgson. “Online events allow those who cannot normally access venue-based events to participate in the Festival and also reduce the environmental impact of performer and audience travel. At the same time, we are very much looking forward to presenting a short programme of venue-based and outdoor events later in the year, once it becomes safe to do so.”

You can view recordings of the festival events on the HLF YouTube channel, including #OutBreakOut: a series of three short films specially commissioned from Dark Horse Theatre.

There is more to come. The Festival is also planning some venue based and outdoor events later in the year, COVID permitting. Among the highlights are: a talk from Queen of Crime Val McDermid and an outdoor Stafflex Treasure Hunt with singing puppet birds. Events postponed from 2020 with the Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen and the author Gentleman Jack Anne Choma, will also be coming back for the autumn.

You can find out more about the festival in general at: https://www.huddlitfest.org.uk/