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Folkestone Book Festival's 40th year looks to the future, starting with Christmas lights

The Folkestone Book Festival may be in its 40th year, but it’s looking to the future.

The festival, which attracts world class authors, broadcasters and actors to the town each year, will, from this year onwards, be themed The Shape of Things to Come and Futures, drawing inspiration from author HG Wells.

The Christmas lights at Folkestone's Creative Quarter kicks off the festival
The Christmas lights at Folkestone's Creative Quarter kicks off the festival

Running from Friday, November 15 to Sunday, November 24, it s programme of events will be inspired by the author of The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, who lived in Folkestone for 13 years.

The event has a festive start with the switching on of the Christmas lights in Folkestone’s Creative Quarter by Booker Prizewinning author Ben Okri at the top of the Old High Street on Friday, November 15 at 5.30pm. There will be local choirs and a brass band and festive window displays.

HG Wells lived in Sandgate, near Folkestone, from 1896 to 1909 in a house overlooking the sea. While there, he mixed with the likes of Joseph Conrad, George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill.

Ben Okri will be at Folkestone Book Festival
Ben Okri will be at Folkestone Book Festival

More than 40 writers and artists will look at what the future may hold. Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar will be looking at the legacy of Seamus Heaney while Lindsey Hilsum will look at the role that journalists when the very nature of truth itself is challenged and screenwriter and director Paul Schrader will discuss his life’s work, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and the Academy Award-nominated film First Reformed, which will be screened on the festival’s opening night.

Taxi Driver and Raging Bull screenwriter Paul Schrader will be in Folkestone
Taxi Driver and Raging Bull screenwriter Paul Schrader will be in Folkestone

Events will be held at diverse venues including the Victorian Tin Tabernacle in Hythe; the Harbour Fish Bar in Folkestone and The Ledge art installation.

The Ledge by Bill Woodrow is one of the Folkestone Artworks
The Ledge by Bill Woodrow is one of the Folkestone Artworks

HG Wells’ The Time Machine is the inspiration behind a seriesof events at this year’s Folkestone Book Festival featuring musicians, writers and actors.

Co-curator Seán Doran said: “We are excited to be turning the attention of one of the UK’s original book festivals to the future. This will be far from the traditional festival set-up of authors reading from their latest book.”

His fellow curator, Liam Browne, said: “HG Wells was not just interested in how we live, but how we might live. He was a great believer in the power of books to change lives and is, therefore, the perfect figure to inspire a festival of books, ideas and future thinking.”

Imogen Stubbs will be at Folkestone Book Festival
Imogen Stubbs will be at Folkestone Book Festival

Famous actors involved include Alex Jennings of The Crown, Toby Jones of Detectorists; Greta Scacchi, who starred in Presumed Innocent with Harrison Ford; Imogen Stubbs (Honour) and Robert Glenister (Hustle). They will be joined by former BBC Young Musician of the Year, cellist Natalie Clein; pianist Julius Drake and violinist Priya Mitchell.

On Sunday, November 17, excerpts of Jean Rhys and Wide Sargasso Sea will be read by actors Imogen Stubbs and Alex Jennings, with music from Ruby Philogene and a DJ, at Lympne Castle.

Adrian Dunbar of Line of Duty
Adrian Dunbar of Line of Duty

* Folkestone Book Festival runs from Friday, November 15 to Sunday, November 24. Book at creativefolkestone.org.uk call 01303 760750 or go to the Folkestone Quarterhouse box office.

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