Sunrise Festival To Be Held on Wimbledon Common

Big name authors to appear at event this June

A selection of the author's appearing at this year's festival

In its 15th anniversary year, Wimbledon BookFest has announced the programme for Sunrise Festival - the first of two multi-day events on Wimbledon Common this summer.

This year it is planning to stage two multi-day festivals: Sunrise Festival (9 – 15 June) and Sunset Festival (22 – 25 September). Each will feature BookFest’s characteristic mix of high-profile speakers alongside diverse rising stars and local talent.

Sunrise Festival comprises more than 50 events over 7 days, with award-winning fiction, climate change, and the war in Ukraine being dominant themes. June also sees the return of Wimbledon BookFest’s programme of events for schools - 5000 students from south London and Surrey are expected to visit over 5 days for events with a line-up of children's writers including Lenny Henry, Lemn Sissay, Elle McNicoll, Jean Menzies and Simon Farnaby.

The marquee village on Wimbledon Common will take on a new format with the aim of offering an enhanced experience for audiences. In addition to its two main event spaces, the site will include a bookshops tent for author signings, and outdoors spaces where visitors can enjoy a coffee, light refreshments or a glass of wine.

In the fiction category there will be the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, Abdulrazak Gurnah as well as Julian Barnes and fantasy writer Susanna Clarke who wrote Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Prospect Magazine’s editor Alan Rusbridger will chair a discussion about the war in Ukraine and its long-term impact with security expert Mark Galeotti and BBC correspondent in Ukraine, Sarah Rainsford. LBC radio presenter Iain Dale discusses the state of public discourse, and suggests how we might emerge from tribalism and division in his book Why Can’t We All Get Along? Royal biographer Tina Brown promises a series of revelations about the Royal Family.

Justin Webb, longest serving presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme, discusses his memoir The Gift of a Radio and his life as a journalist and legendary broadcaster and champion of the arts Melvyn Bragg take a look back at the upbringing that shaped him in his memoir Back in the Day.

The Wimbledon BookFest village
The Wimbledon BookFest village

In Climate Challenge, three writers - Aja Barber, Jayne Buxton and Ed Winters - challenge conventional thinking on what really impacts our carbon footprint and chefs and food writers Melissa Hemsley and Anthony Warner ask how we can eat well without harming our planet.

Antiques Roadshow presenter Ronnie Archer-Morgan will share stories of the objects that shaped his own unlikely story, as well as taking a look at some owned by the audience. Art historian Suzanne Fagence Cooper explores the lives and legacies of both William Morris and his wife Jane Morris, and ventures inside two personal stories of unparalleled creative artistry.

Comedy is back at BookFest with a stand-up set from Andy Hamilton, co-creator of Outnumbered and Drop the Dead Donkey and regular panellist on Have I Got News For You. Phil Wang: Sidesplitter is a light-hearted conversation with the comedian about his memoir which reflects on his dual heritage and the contrast between Eastern and Western cultures.

Children’s events include Tom Percival with his thought-provoking picture book The River to help children understand the idea of ever-changing emotions, Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri presents his picture book Every Leaf a Hallelujah, an environmental fairy tale for our times and Michelle Paver presenting the grand finale of her bestselling Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, Wolfbane.

There will be a series of workshops and walks including Annabel Streets showing us 52 scientifically proven ways to walk for wellness; Peter Walker highlights Wimbledon’s links to slavery; and Leif Bersweden offers a botanising walk and talk around the Common. Public workshops include Mindful Meditation with Jo Bowlby; Life Drawing with Jake Spicer; Creative Writing with Cathy Rentzenbrink and Nikesh Shukla; and a Photography Masterclass with Michael Freeman.

Events for schools include a visit from national treasure Lenny Henry to present his debut children’s book. The Boy with Wings tells the story of average kid Tunde who sprouts wings during a football match to embark on an exciting journey of discovery.

The line up for schools audiences also features events with award-winning authors Rob Biddulph, Simon Farnaby, Alex Wheatle MBE, Lemn Sissay, Jean Menzies, Ross Welford and Elle McNicoll.

In addition to schools' events on-site at the Festival Village, Rene Germain, author of Black and Great - the first guide to specifically address the unique challenges many Black people face in the workplace – will appear at Ursuline High School in an event for sixth formers.

Fiona Razvi, Wimbledon BookFest’s Director said, “Wimbledon BookFest is delighted to be marking its 15th anniversary as London’s leading literary festival. We aim to create the space to reflect and discuss the big issues of the day, as well giving time out to enjoy and learn new things, and this is reflected in our programme for Sunrise. We’re also pleased to see the return of our full schools’ programme in June, for which we expect 5000 students over 5 days. 100 schools in London and Surrey now take part in our creative projects every year, an activity very much at the heart of the Festival.”

Liam Hurley, Director of Strategy and External Relations at the University of Roehampton, Principal Partner, said,“Wimbledon BookFest provides a wide range of opportunities through both the festival, and its outreach work with local schools, on which we collaborate, to enhance educational opportunities for young people from all backgrounds. We look forward to supporting the festival for another summer, and are grateful for the opportunities our partnership provides to Roehampton students through valuable work placement opportunities.”

On-site partners this year includes Festival bookseller Waterstones and official bar and cafe partner Catered by Justin alongside exhibitors Côte Brasserie, Prospect Magazine and Freddie’s Flowers.

Sunrise Festival are already on sale to BookFest Friends and go on general sale on Friday 29 April, 10am. For further information visit .


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April 25, 2022