Henley Literary Festival Attendance Up 50% in 3 Years

John Sentamu signingLast week’s Henley Literary Festival was the biggest yet, with record attendance and 170 events for adults and children at venues across the town.

Ticket sales were up 11% on last year to a new high of 18,700, meaning that attendance has risen by 50% in just three years since the festival became a week-long event in 2012. Michael Morpurgo’s schools talk at Christ Church had the biggest audience of any Festival event to date. Other full houses at the festival’s largest venue include Jane Hawking, Ranulph Fiennes, Ella Woodward, Cressida Cowell and John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York.

The Festival hosted the inaugural events for much anticipated memoirs by Sue Perkins and Brian Blessed at the Kenton

Michael Morpurgo at Christ Church

Michael Morpurgo at Christ Church

Theatre. The Town Hall was home for talks by Prue Leith, Tracey Thorn and Before I Go To Sleep novelist SJ Watson. Aboard the Hibernia audiences enjoyed the River Readings and Elizabeth Hazeldine on the history of Henley. Outside of Henley itself Bix Manor and Fawley Court each hosted a special agent. And running alongside the Festival was the Portrait of Henley exhibition at the Fire Station Gallery.

Over 40 events for children aged two and up took place at Christ Church, Hotel du Vin, D:TWO, the Kenton and in the Baillie Gifford Festival Hub in the town square. This included free storytellings with life-size Kipper the dog and Maisy Mouse, where both Gyles Brandreth and the mayor of Henley guested as the storyteller.

The Festival received national and international media coverage during the week, including the Daily Mail, the Times, the Telegraph, Sky News and Huffington Post.