As it is nearly time for Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate I thought I’d pull together some top tips for attending book festivals! This is my 2nd year attending Harrogate and I am absolutely buzzing for it! Last year I went with a couple of friends and this year I’m heading down on my own and I have no fear at all after meeting so many wonderful people last year!
I’ve also attended Bloody Scotland in Stirling and Aye Write in Glasgow for the past 3 or 4 years and the book festivals are the highlights of my year! So how do you make the most of your time there and have the best experience ever? Read on to find out my top tips!
Take a backpack with you and make sure it is empty! There is no way you will come away from a festival with no new books, is there!
Take a portable phone charger – lots of opportunities for photos with your favourite authors and how gutted would you be if your phone was to run out of charge just as you bumped into your favourite author! (or if you are at Harrogate then just look out for Shell Baker of Chelle’s Book Reviews – she always has a selfie stick to hand!)
Check the weather forecast before you go and dress accordingly (although if the festival is in Scotland then make sure you have clothing for all seasons, we have been known to have 4 seasons in one day up here!) Dress code is #thereisnodresscode – wear what you feel comfortable in – crime scene tape is optional!
Check the programme before you go and plan your events; some of the bigger panels will sell out quickly but you can usually guarantee to get tickets for some events on the day. If there is a panel you definitely want to go to then you are as well to buy your tickets in advance.
I always like to try to attend at least one panel for an author I haven’t heard of or read before, it is a great way to discover new books (as if your TBR pile isn’t high enough!)
Don’t be afraid of going along on your own. Book Festivals are probably the friendliest places you can go to. There is always someone there to talk to! But even if you don’t want to talk to anyone nobody is going to stare at you if you prefer to sit quietly in a corner reading your book!
Book signings – they are so worth waiting in the queue for! All the authors are really friendly and are happy to chat and get their picture taken while you are getting your book signed!
Mingling – at Harrogate especially most of the action (no NOT that kind of action!!) takes place on the lawn! There are authors galore and last year all of them were more than happy to spend time talking to readers and getting the odd photo taken!
Have fun! You are surrounded by hundreds of readers, authors and books – what’s not to love! There is nothing better than being surrounded by fellow book lovers!
It might be a bit late for this year, but a good way of finding your feet at a book festival is to volunteer. I’ve volunteered at Bloody Scotland for the last couple of years and it is great fun! Not only do you get to meet lots of other folk as book obsessed as you are, you also get the chance to participate in the behind the scene happenings of the festival. You can be involved in anything from seating audience members, operating the roving mike to setting up the Green Room for participating authors. The Book Festivals rely on volunteers and you are always made to feel welcome and a part of the event. And of course, you get to sit in on the events where you are scheduled to assist at!
So if you are heading to Harrogate or Bloody Scotland this year, I’ll be there as usual! Please come and say hello! There is a whole new world of friends out there to be made!