Oxfordshire’s Best Literary Festivals

Given Oxfordshire’s rich literary history there’s little surprise that the county features some of the leading literature festivals in the UK. Oxford University has been home to more world-renowned authors (as students or staff) than you could shake a Collected Works Of Shakespeare at, and words are an integral part of the city. This love of language has seeped out into the county and each year there is a diverse spread of literary festivals, from the huge to the tiny. Here is a pick of Oxfordshire’s best literary festivals.

Image courtesy of Tejvan Pettinger

1. The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival

Image courtesy of Liz Smith

The big daddy. This week long celebration of writing, books and authors takes over the whole city and feature an endless array of big name authors giving talks and presentations. From fiction to history to cookery, the scope of what’s on offer is staggering. If you’re an aspiring author there is also a creative writing course that runs through the week.

2. Henley Literary Festival.

This is another week long event for the true literati among you. With talks by authors as diverse as Trainspotting writer Irvine Welsh and father and son team Peter and Dan Snow you can be assured of some mind-expanding experiences. There is also a great selection of events for children, making this one of Oxfordshire’s best literary festivals for the family.

3. Thame Art And Literature Festival

Celebrating its fourth birthday this year, the Thame Art and Literature Festival (TAL) runs for three days in October. Although not as heavyweight as the previous festivals TAL has some incredible events, including a short story competition, and some wonderful guest speakers such as The Guardian’s George Monbiot. 

4. Wantage Not Just Betjeman Literary Festival

This festival celebrates the life and work of legendary poet laureate Sir John Betjeman. But this isn’t a one trick pony. A variety of national and local authors will be giving talks and presentations throughout the festival so there’s plenty to get your teeth into.

5. The Not The Oxford Literary Festival

If you fancy experiencing the less mainstream side of literature, this is the festival for you. Featuring a host of cutting edge authors, this fringe festival was set up in protest at the lack of representation of many of Oxford’s local poets and authors at the Oxford Literary Festival. In its first year the event lasted about an hour, but has grown into a genuine two day event. With a distinctly anti-establishment feel, this is an exciting and diverse festival.

If you have a hunger for the joys of language then these literary festivals in Oxfordshire should whet your appetite. Be sure to check them out next time you’re staying in the area. If you are looking for a place to rest your head one of these great festivals, the perhaps consider a night at one of Four Pillars Oxford hotels.

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