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Performance poet Tony Walsh read some of his best known work as well as a co-operative themed poem he’d written especially for the festival in the magnificent setting of the Church of St Mary in the Baum to bring the biggest Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival to a close.The hugely popular artist got a standing ovation at the sold-out show on Monday evening.

Over the seven-day festival thousands of people watched top literary names that also included Jenny Eclair, Alan Johnson, Terry Waite CBE, Jessica Rankin and Mandasue Heller.

More than 1,550 tickets were sold – and more than 1,000 people attended un-ticketed events throughout the festival and warm up shows earlier in October.

The festival proved a big hit, across all ages, with 15 sold out performances and big crowds across the week.

Councillor Janet Emsley cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture who attended many of the events and hosted the afternoon tea with Rosie Goodwin said the festival was a big success:

“We knew it would be hard to better last year but I think we did.  We’ve had a real mix of well-known international names, prolific writers and also some less celebrated acts all playing to capacity audiences. The number of positive comments we have received from far and wide is fabulous and I think this event is great for Rochdale. The finale with Tony Walsh was truly inspiring, a real emotional rollercoaster.  I want to thank the team responsible for delivering another superb festival and our sponsors The Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre and JGM Agency.”

Festival Director Punam Ramchurn hailed it a tremendous week:

“We’ve had a truly diverse programme which helped attract audiences across the spectrum, from young people enjoying our Generation Z workshops to young families on a bat safari in the town centre and then the roar of Tony Walsh’s finale on Monday night!  It would be impossible to pick a favourite moment as there were so many … we managed to pack in such a lot in seven days, participatory arts, writing workshops, literary walks, theatre shows, big names and fringe events.”

The festival kicked off with ‘Hidden Tales’ – an afternoon of spoken word, music and film by the Petrus Community hosted by Mancunian poet, Mike Garry.

Contact’s Creative Experts, delivered a thought provoking writing and poetry workshop at Rochdale Pioneers Museum, and comedian Jenny Eclair returned to the festival for the second time, talking about ‘Listening In’- her new hilarious collection of short stories with BBC Radio Manchester afternoon presenter Becky Want.

Visual artist Jessica Rankin’s premiered a new series of new drawings, paintings and embroideries at Touchstones Rochdale with responses from internationally acclaimed poets Amy Key, Sarah Howe and Brenda Shaughnessy.

Rosie Goodwin, one of the UKs top authors hosted a delicious afternoon tea at Rochdale Town Hall as she discussed her latest novel Mothering Sunday with Councillor Janet Emsley.

25 years since his release from captivity, Terry Waite CBE kept a capacity audience at The Curtain Theatre on the edge of their seats, reflecting on his life with poems and reflections from during that ordeal and throughout the happier times of humanitarian work that have followed.

Karvan –  the smallest festival venue parked up on Toad Lane, inviting guests to map their own personal journey on life and the memories it’s brought so far.

At Number One Riverside, Mandasue Heller, one of the UK’s best-loved crime writers, discussed her novel ‘Run’ – an urban thriller based in Manchester’s criminal underworld.

The Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre hosted a day of fun family activities on Saturday, including songs, stories and rhymes performed by musician Adam Perrott.

The Whole Kahani – a collective of British fiction writers of South Asian origin presented their work at Rochdale Pioneers Museum and on Sunday Natasha Brown from Brown’s Cakes hosted an Icing and Writing workshop inspired by her new children’s book – Caught Cake Handed.

Manchester Science Festival teamed up with experts from Chester Zoo to present two workshops  – giving young people chance to get closer to nature, with ‘Build a Bug Home.’ Later on, their ‘Bat Safari’ took families on an adventure around the town centre with lanterns they had made earlier in the day.

Super-author, Guy Bass, brought his interactive Spynosaur show to the Crown Oil Arena and former Home Secretary Alan Johnson Labour politician talked about the third volume of his award-winning memoirs ‘The Long and Winding Road’ at Rochdale Parish Church of St. Chad.

The Fringe Festival, organised by All Across the Arts saw over 20 local authors and performers take to the stage at Rochdale’s Vibe bar.

The festival was organised by Rochdale Borough Council, supported by the Maskew Bequest and sponsored by The Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre and creative digital media company – JGM Agency.

For photographs, videos and more news from the festival visit or connect with @RochdaleLitFest on Twitter.


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