Please refer to the Venues page for more information about The Book Corner, The Grayston Unity, Albany Arcade and Meandering Bear.

Downloadable programme.

Friday 4th october

10:00 – Question time with the Yorkshire Organic Gardener. The Book Corner. FREE.

Keen gardener? Plant problems? Come along and take part in our version of Gardener’s Question Time with Graham Porter.

Graham is currently the BBC Radio Leeds Gardening expert and has been in the horticultural industry for over 50 years. He has been self-employed since 1996 as a Horticultural Consultant and now considers himself to be semi-retired. He is a a full member of the Garden Media Guild and his first book has been published (November 2018) – The Yorkshire Organic Gardener.

To reserve your place, please call into The Book Corner or email cornerbookshophalifax@gmail.com

15:00 – David glover: coiner’s talk. THE grayston unity. £3.

Local historian David Glover takes a look at the true story behind the infamous ‘King’ David Hartley and the Cragg Vale coiners.

Tickets can be purchased from The Grayston Unity.

17:00 – The Quality Street Girls with Penny Thorpe. The book corner. £5.

Join us for tales of The Quality Street factory and all the gossip behind the creation of The Quality Street Girls with author Penny Thorpe, an expert on the history of chocolate in Yorkshire.

Penny was the company archivist for Nestlé for over 10 years. She has amassed a wealth of stories about the manufacture of chocolate in Yorkshire and the people involved in the industry. She is writing a series of novels, under the pen name Penny Thorpe, based on her knowledge and experience, the first of which is The Quality Street Girls set in Halifax in 1936.

Book your tickets here.

19:00 – Northern Lights – Bluemoose meets Common People. the book corner. £5.

Festival Patron and independent publisher, Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose Books will be in conversation with authors Louise Powell and Shaun Wilson, contributors to the recently published ‘Common People: An anthology of Working-Class Writers’ published by Unbound, May 2019. They will be discussing Northern voices in literature and the various challenges of getting their voices heard.

Book your tickets here.

Louise Powell recently completed a PhD in English at Sheffield Hallam University, funded by the North of England Consortium for Arts and Humanities Research. One of her short comedy sketches, ‘Are You Alright?’, was performed in 2016 as part of Bolton Octagon Theatre’s Best of Bolton production, and in 2017 she participated in New Writing North’s Significant Ink Professional Development Programme for Screenwriting. She was also shortlisted four times for the Martin Wills Writing Awards for writing on a horse-racing theme.

Shaun Wilson was born in 1980 and raised in Wigton, Cumbria. In 2011, after fifteen years as a guitarist and lyricist in various rock-and-roll bands, he began learning to write prose. He currently works as a postman and studies towards an MA in creative writing at Northumbria University. In his spare time, he co-edits the university’s creative magazine, Edge. He was shortlisted for a Northern Writers’ Award in 2018.

Bluemoose Books is an independent publisher based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Kevin and Hetha Duffy started Bluemoose in 2006 as a ‘family’ of readers and writers passionate about the written word and stories. They don’t have the heft of a London publishing house with the zillions of pounds to promote their writers but they do manage through innovative marketing to get their books into high street bookstores and reviewed in the national press.

20:00 – Mal Campbell in conversation with Sybil Bell. THe grayston unity. FREE.

Our festival patron and organiser of Independent Venue Week, Sybil Bell, talks to Mal Campbell.

Mal began his music career as a founder member of My Life Story in his hometown of Southend-On-Sea. He worked as a musician & producer in London and New York for the next 15 years and played his last show at 2014 at The Barbican with cult band Sophia for ATP’s Don’t Look Back series. Returning to music in 2011 as a promoter, Mal has taken The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge to the finals of the NME & Music Week awards numerous times over the last 5 years, booking legends like Patti Smith, Buzzcocks & The Fall alongside exciting contemporary artists such as Idles, King Gizzard & Laura Marling.

Chaired by local writer and friend of the festival, Chris Dyson.

PLEASE NOTE: The venue capacity is 18 and so it’s best to arrive early!

21:00 – James Endeacott DJ set. THE grayston unity. free.

Expect an eclectic DJ set from festival patron, former Rough Trade A&R man and all round music legend James Endeacott.

saturday 5th october

10:15 – Story time with Cathy and Ned. The Book Corner. Free.

Following on from the success of her first published book ‘Ned, go to bed’, Cathy Oakley Calvert has now penned the story of Ned’s little sister, Bess. She is a little more feisty than he is, and is always getting in a mess, but helping out her big brother is all she wants to do as she doesn’t like to see him sad. Come along and hear Cathy read ‘Bess, what a mess’ to find out if Bess really can find Ned’s favourite toy…without getting into too much of a mess.

11:30 – Fantastically Great Women with Kate Pankhurst. the book corner. free.

Join Kate Pankhurst, author and illustrator of the Fantastically Great Women series, to discover fascinating facts about some of the most amazing women who changed the world we live in.

Kate Pankhurst illustrates and writes from her studio in Leeds with her spotty dog, Olive. She loves a good story, the funnier the better, and gets her best ideas by doodling in her sketchbook; because even quick wonky drawings can spark ideas for amazing plots. She was nominated for the Kate Greenaway medal in 2018.

12:00 – Spoken Word with Ben Guilfoyle. albany arcade. free.

Benjamin Guilfoyle is a woolly hat wearing performance poet from Lancaster. He is heavily influenced by rhyme and rhythm and is armed with poetry about Robin Hood’s bottom, the life teachings of Brian Blessed and Pokemon on the Gameboy. Benjamin has recently finished his first poetry tour where he walked 125 miles to raise money for charity. He authored his first poetry collection ‘Please Insert Disk 2’ in 2019.

12:30 – spoken word with microphone jack. albany arcade. free.

Microphone Jack is a socio-political stand-up poet from Yorkshire who combines below-the-belt social commentary with cutting, dark humour in a dynamic free-form style with natural rhythm and flow. In addition to the content is Microphone Jack’s charismatic stage presence, use of rich descriptive vocabulary, diverse imagery, and a forthright delivery that is uncompromisingly to the point.

12:30 til 15:00 – pop-up bookstore. albany arcade. free.

Pop-up bookshop run by local independent bookshop, The Book Corner.

13:00 – ST AUGUSTINE’s. albany arcade. free.

The St. Augustine’s Centre is an open-access community and support centre based in Halifax. The Centre has operated for over 50 years, providing a warm and welcome environment for those in the community to access the help they need. Recently, the work of St. Augustine’s has focused on providing advice and support to refugees and asylum seekers living in the area. We are honoured to invite performers from the centre to the Albany Arcade as part of this year’s festival.

13:00 – David Cooper in conversation with Michael Ainsworth. the grayston unity. free.

David Cooper started his music life in the 1980s local band The Last Peach. A career in music PR lead to him running his own company, In House Press. In 1999 he formed Melodic, an independent Manchester based record label. In 2019, and 120 releases later, finds Melodic releasing the new single from Working Mans Club as well as records by Nyx Nótt, the new electronic project from legendary Glaswegian Aidan Moffat, and WH Lung’s debut album. Of WH Lung, David says, ‘we recently discovered WH Lung whose album we released in 2019. It’s taken 20 years, but finally I’ve found the Manchester band I’ve always been looking for.’

PLEASE NOTE: The venue capacity is 18 and so it’s best to arrive early!


Join punk poet Keiron Higgins for a poetic tour around his home town. Meet at The Book Corner and let Keiron lead the way. 

Keiron Higgins is a Punk Poet (and self-proclaimed “Punk With a Northern Soul”) from Halifax, West Yorkshire. Coming from a creative background which over the years has seen him in his hometown of Halifax be a former DJ, music producer and radio presenter, Keiron started doing spoken word as a secondary outlet to music production in 2013 after seeing the likes of close friend and fellow punk poet Cayn White over the years, and being spurred on by attending his ever first spoken word night in 2013.

14:00 – Preserved Sound – I want to hold your band: running a record label. the grayston unity. free.

Hayden Berry of Preserved Sound discusses the highs and lows of setting up and running a record label and what the future may hold for recorded music.

PLEASE NOTE: The venue capacity is 18 and so it’s best to arrive early!


A second chance to hear Microphone Jack, a socio-political stand-up poet from Yorkshire who combines below-the-belt social commentary with cutting, dark humour in a dynamic free-form style with natural rhythm and flow.

14:30 – Mayshe Mayshe. albany arcade. free.

York/Leeds based lo-fi ambient electro-pop artist Mayshe Mayshe elegantly stacks layers of vocal harmony, analogue keyboard, tuned percussion, pedal feedback, and occasionally hair-dryer noise over her skittering, organic beats to create a sonic bed for her brooding vocal hooks.

15:00 – John Robb in conversation with James Endeacott. the Grayston unity. free.

John Robb is a many-faceted creature. Bassist and singer for post-punk mainstays The Membranes, author, journalist, DJ, publisher and talking head, he’s all these things and more. John was one of the leading post punk fanzine writers in the UK with ‘Rox’ before he went on to write for the rock press with Sounds. He was the first person to interview Nirvana and coined the expression Britpop. John was instrumental in kick starting and documenting the Madchester scene with his writing. His music and culture website louderthanwar.com is currently one of the biggest music and culture sites in the UK.

Chaired by local writer and friend of the festival, Chris Dyson.

PLEASE NOTE: The venue capacity is 18 and so it’s best to arrive early!


Join the Landlubbers for some rousing industrial shanties as they sing their way around the town before performing at the Albany Arcade and The Grayston Unity.


A second chance to hear Benjamin Guilfoyle, a woolly hat wearing performance poet from Lancaster. He is heavily influenced by rhyme and rhythm and is armed with poetry about Robin Hood’s bottom, the life teachings of Brian Blessed and Pokemon on the Gameboy.

15:45 – The Landlubbers. albany arcade. free.

Shanties with a difference! The Landlubbers raise the roof with rip-roaring traditional shanties alongside their own self -penned ‘industrial shanties.’

16:00 – Mark Wright and Tom ATTah in conversation: Time Lords and Tall Tales. the grayston unity. free.

From adventures on screen to the printed word and beyond. A Sunday Times top-ten best-selling author, Halifax born Mark Wright has written more words about the worlds of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Blake’s 7 and Star Wars than is probably healthy. Join Mark and Dr Tom Attah of Leeds Arts University in discussion.

PLEASE NOTE: The venue capacity is 18 and so it’s best to arrive early!

16:15 – Spoken Word – Genevieve L. Walsh. albany arcade. free.

Geneviève L Walsh is a Halifax based poet who’s currently touring her one woman show, A Place in the Shade. She’s the founder of Halifax’s Spoken Weird, running and hosting three nights in the town centre since 2013, and is published by the Northern Soul award nominated Flapjack Press.

16:30 – John Hegley: ‘Writing drawing and drawing out the creative’ workshop. the book corner. £12. ***SOLD OUT***

Age 16+. This is a no-experience required workshop. We do not look at previous writings, we create new illustrated ones in a playful getting together. Duration: 1.5hrs.

John Hegley is a Bradford University graduate in Literature, practiced in the art of interactive literary activity. He sings, draws, gesticulates and baroque dances his words and sometimes the audience does, too. He has been on Radio 4 quite a bit and has been resident poet for Keats House, London and BBC online.

Book your tickets here.

17:00 – Landlubbers. the grayston unity. free.

The Landubbers return with more industrial shanties, this time in the intimate setting of the Grayston Unity.

PLEASE NOTE: The venue capacity is 18 and so it’s best to arrive early!

17:00 – Owter Zeds. albany arcade. free.

Legendary Hebden Bridge ska band Owter Zeds have been rocking the valley and elsewhere for 30 years. Expect dancing in the Albany Arcade! www.owterzeds.com

19:30 – New and Selected Potatoes. John Hegley performance. THE BOOK CORNER. £10.

Largely for adults but not unsuitable for curious nine year olds in spectacles. John Hegley is a Bradford University graduate in Literature, practiced in the art of interactive literary activity. He sings, draws, gesticulates and baroque dances his words and sometimes the audience does, too. He has been on Radio 4 quite a bit and has been resident poet for Keats House, London and BBC online. There is a poem about Halifax in his second latest book , Peace, Love and Potatoes.

Book your tickets here.

19:15 – the fernweh & support. albany arcade. £8.

Based on a pure and profound love for a golden era for British and US folk rock, The Fernweh bring their delicate vocal harmonies, slinking organ, manic guitar solos and grounded, kitchen-sink-drama imagery. Where better to see the much lauded Liverpool group than in a Victorian market arcade?

Supported by Rook and the Ravens coming down from the Derbyshire hills and bringing their articulate harmonic songs with them.

Doors open at 19:00. Book your tickets here.

21:30 – late night turn the page. the book corner. Free.

Turn The Page is a poetry and word night at the Book Corner. Founded and hosted by Katie Atkinson and co-hosted by Katie Ashwood. In its second year, they welcome anyone and everyone to come and share their words. They are very excited to be returning to the festival after last year’s sell out event.

22:00 – Bob Stanley DJ set (til 1am). meandering bear. free.

Record producer, member of St. Etienne, writer, journalist, but most importantly for tonight, a man famous for his massive vinyl collection, Bob will be providing the tunes into the early hours.

sunday 6th october


Families are invited to join children’s author Tom Palmer and his dog, Finn, for a half-an-hour run round the Piece Hall before it opens, followed by a short talk about his books Armistice Runner and D-Day Dog, which are aimed at children aged 8-12 who like history or running or dogs or all three. Dogs on leads very welcome. All running abilities welcome. Sun 6th Oct at 9.30 a.m.

Tom Palmer is the author of 48 books featuring spies, history, the RAF, ghosts, detectives, war, football and rugby. He has written three series for Puffin Books – Football Academy (7+), Foul Play (9+) and The Squad (9+) – and several books for Barrington Stoke, including, most recently, Armistice Runner, which has been shortlisted for 5 book prizes and D-Day Dog, published in May 2019. He has worked around the UK and the world for the National Literacy Trust, the British Council, the Reading Agency, Reading Force, the Premier League, the FA and England Rugby. He is the winner of the Solihull and Leicester children’s book awards and was shortlisted for the prestigious Blue Peter Book Award. Tom lives in Yorkshire with his wife, daughter, dog and cat.

from 11:00 – Return of the Iron Man illustration with Chris Mould. (durational event). the book corner. free.

Chris’ major project this year was to produce a new colour version of the Ted Hughes children’s classic ‘The Iron Man’. Come along and watch Chris draw an Iron Man mural on the wall in the shop and chat to him about his work.

Chris was born and raised in West Yorkshire where he still lives with his family. He is one of twenty studio artists at the prestigious Dean Clough Mills arts and business complex. His published work ranges from picture books to young fiction and throughout a long career he has also produced theatre posters, editorial cartoons for major newspapers and character development work for animated features. He now writes and illustrates his own children’s fiction. He exhibits his artwork regularly and commits to an ongoing programme of events.

15:00 – Bob Stanley and James Endeacott in conversation. the grayston unity. free.

A real treat to have two legends of the English music scene together in conversation. James worked as an A&R man for the Strokes and discovered The Libertines. Now BBC6 Music regular and record label owner, he’s in conversation with Bob Stanley. Bob, as well as being a member of the band Saint Etienne and author of the much acclaimed Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop, still finds the time to be a record label consultant, journalist and avid record collector.

PLEASE NOTE: The venue capacity is 18 and so it’s best to arrive early!

16:00 – Simon Warner and HEATH Common – Kerouac Lives! the grayston unity. free.

In 2019, it will be 50 years since the death of the acclaimed US novelist Jack Kerouac. In this anniversary event, Beat historian and popular music specialist Simon Warner joins poet and musician Heath Common to discuss Kerouac, the Beat Generation, the influence that music had on these writers and the impact these writers would have on subsequent singers and bands. In addition, they will also explore the social revolution these individuals triggered and the 1960s counterculture that grew out of their writing.

PLEASE NOTE: The venue capacity is 18 and so it’s best to arrive early!

16:00 – ‘Fact to Fiction’ with R C Bridgestock. The book corner. £5.

Former Head of Calderdale/Calder Valley CID Bob Bridgestock is now an international best selling author, along with his wife Carol who also worked for WYP as a civilian employee. The couple, who write under the pen name of R.C Bridgestock, were voted WHS Readers #8 Best Crime Authors of All Time. The writing duo created the character DI Jack Dylan, a detective from Harrowfield (Halifax); presently there are nine books in the Dylan series. This year sees the launch of a new series starring Detective Inspector Charley Mann, from Marsden, who works out of Huddersfield Police Station.

Book your tickets here.


Join local writer and historian, Jill Liddington, in the intimate setting of Hope Hall, home of Christopher Rawson. Jill discusses the complex relationship between Anne Lister & powerful banker Christopher Rawson, resident of Hope Hall 1808-49. Gain exclusive entry to this magnificent Georgian house as Jill explores the industrial rivalry and political allegiance between two of Halifax’s most distinguished historical figures. A glass of wine is included in the ticket price.

Venue: The Albany Club (formerly Hope Hall), 57 Clare Rd, Halifax HX1 2JP. For a location map, please click here. Doors will open at 16:30.

Book your tickets here.

17:00 – Katie Spencer. the grayston unity. free.

Lauded by folk legend Ralph McTell and drawing on influences such as John Martyn, Roy Harper and Laura Marling, Katie Spencer creates modern folk music which owes as much to East Riding of Yorkshire as it does to the American greats, with her striking vocals and adept songwriting backed by evocative and complex acoustic guitar.

PLEASE NOTE: The venue capacity is 18 and so it’s best to arrive early!

19:15 – michael chapman. THE GRAYSTON UNITY. £15. ***SOLD OUT***

Since emerging from the folk scene in Yorkshire, England in 1967, guitarist, and singer Michael Chapman has gained a dual reputation as one of England’s finest original singer/songwriters and most restless guitar players, equally comfortable in folk, rock, free improvisation, global music styles, blues, and jazz. With over 40 albums to his credit, this former art and photography teacher has, in the 21st century, been embraced by a host of boundary-crossing younger musicians who credit his influence on their work including Thurston Moore, Steve Gunn, Ryley Walker, Meg Baird, and many more.

PLEASE NOTE: This event is taking place at The Grayston Unity and not at The Albany Arcade as previously advertised. Book your tickets here.

19:30 – Laureate’s Choice Anthology Reading: Poetry from Vicky Gatehouse, Mark Pajak, Faith Lawrence, Keith HuTson, Natalie Burdett & David Borrott. the book corner. £8.

Join us for an intimate evening of poetry with six Laureate’s Choice Poets: David Borrott, Natalie Burdett, Victoria Gatehouse, Keith Hutson, Faith Lawrence and Mark Pajak. Help us celebrate the end of the festival with a glass of wine (included in the ticket price).

Book your tickets here.

David Borrott’s pamphlet Porthole was published by smith|doorstop as part of their Laureate’s Choice series. He has an MA in Poetry from Manchester Metropolitan University and in 2015 was awarded a Northern Writers award. He lives in the Ribble Valley with his partner and their three sons.

Natalie Burdett is from the West Midlands, and divides her time between there and the North West. She is currently studying for a Creative Writing PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her Laureate’s Choice pamphlet Urban Drift was published by smith|doorstop in 2018.

Victoria Gatehouse lives in West Yorkshire, has an MA in Poetry from Manchester Metropolitan University and a day job in medical research. Her poems have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies including The North, Poetry News, Magma, Mslexia and Poetry Salzburg Review. Competition wins include Iklley, Otley and PENfro and she has been placed in many more. Her first pamphlet Light After Light is published by Valley Press and her second, The Mechanics of Love is a Laureate’s Choice for 2019.

Keith Hutson has written for Coronation Street and for several well-known comedians. His plays have been performed at venues including The Royal Exchange, Manchester. Since beginning to submit his poetry five years ago, Keith has had over 150 poems published in journals. He has also had competition successes including being longlisted twice for the National Poetry Competition, shortlisted for the Wordsworth Trust Prize, and a winner in the Poetry Business Yorkshire Prize. Keith’s debut pamphlet, Routines, was published in 2016 by Poetry Salzburg (where Keith is now on the Editorial Board) followed by a smith doorstop pamphlet, Troupers (2018) which was selected by Carol Ann as a Laureate’s Choice. His debut full collection, Baldwin’s Catholic Geese, was published by Bloodaxe in February 2019.

Faith Lawrence lives in Manchester and makes radio programmes exploring language and poetry for the BBC. She wrote about the art of listening for her Creative Writing PhD at the University of St Andrews, and is compiling a glossary of ‘listening’ words (whilst keeping an ear out for her young son, who is usually quite easy to hear). Her poems have been published in Poetry Review and The Interpreter’s House.

Mark Pajak has written for The BBC, The Guardian, The London Review of Books, Poetry London, The North, The Rialto and Magma. He has been commended in the National Poetry Competition, awarded first place in The Bridport Prize and has also received a Northern Writers’ Award, an Eric Gregory Award and an UNESCO international writing residency. His first pamphlet, Spitting Distance, was selected by Carol Ann Duffy as a Laureate’s Choice and is published with smith|doorstop.