Skip to main content Skip to accessibility

Literature festival enjoys fabulous fourth year

04 January 2017

First Bus Group.

October's (2016) Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival was the best yet with record ticket sales of over 3,200 and more than 4,000 people attending.

Ticket sales were the highest in our festival's 4-year history, with hundreds more attending un-ticketed events throughout the weekend and preview shows earlier in October. Revenue from ticket sales was £16,298 and spending by festival-goers in the borough is estimated at £61,500.

23 shows were completely sold out and the 'early bird' ticket offer, which knocked 30% off all tickets purchased in August (2016), was another big hit.

The festival also helped to bring the arts to new audiences, with 23% of visitors questioned saying they hadn't attended a literature-related event before. It also helped to bring new visitors to Rochdale as 40% said they were not regular visitors to the town centre. The festival attracted visitors from across the north west region and beyond, with people coming from Liverpool, Bolton, Manchester, Halifax, Leeds and Stockport.

Last year's programme included events with Jenny Eclair, Owen Jones, Simon Callow, Mark Billingham, Nikesh Shukla, Ian McMillan, Alastair Campbell, Mark Steel and Joanne Harris.

Councillor Janet Emsley, our cabinet member for culture, health and wellbeing said there was great support from the public:

"I managed to see many inspiring events and even though this was our longest festival it still went so quickly and I was sad to see it come to an end. It was a delight to welcome to the borough so many leading names. The talks, workshops, and events were informative, entertaining and captivating. I'm already looking forward to the 2017 festival and we expect to be able to announce the dates this month."

Dwayne Wells, commercial development manager from festival partner First Manchester said:

"This really was another superb festival and we were pleased to be part of it again.  We aim to support our local communities, and Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival provides the perfect platform to promote reading and learning, offering something for all ages and tastes." 

Watch a video looking back at the festival and interviews with some of the guests.

'I'm already looking forward to the 2017 festival and we expect to be able to announce the dates this month'

The festival celebrates and promotes the Maskew Collection of classic literature and philosophy at Rochdale Central Library, encouraging people to engage in thought and philosophy. It is due to the generosity of Annie and Frank Maskew, a Rochdale couple who shared a passion for reading and thinking, who originally met in Rochdale Library. They left a sum of money to be used on resources and events related to literature, and philosophy, to ensure classic works are available for future generations.

The 2016 festival was organised by us, funded by the Maskew Bequest, ticket sales and sponsorship from First UK Bus, JGM Agency, Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre and Hopwood Hall College. The Generation Z project for young people was funded by Arts Council England.

If you're interested in sponsoring this year's festival, or getting involved in other ways, email