There are many reasons to join Ilkley Literature Festival as a volunteer. You’ll make new friends, see live literature talks and connect with the local Ilkley community. If you’re keen to gain valuable experience in the events world and learn how arts and cultural events are produced, we can help you do that too! 

When the first festival took place in 1973, ILF was run completely by volunteers.  Today, our Volunteer Programme continues to be a vital part of our festival.   

There are plenty of ways to get involved regardless of experience, so if you’re looking to try something new, get in touch.


Applications for the 2025 festival will open in spring 2025

Our programme offers an exciting opportunity to see how a live festival works, whilst exploring your interests. Roles are available across all aspects of the festival, from front of house to backstage production and social media support.

As a volunteer you’ll get to see events with authors from around the UK and further afield. You’ll meet like-minded people, gain valuable skills and have fun!

Applications are open to anyone aged 16 and over. Applicants under 18 years of age will need to provide written permission from a parent or carer to take part.

We work to ensure the festival is accessible to everyone. If you have any questions about whether volunteering is suitable for you, please get in touch via info@ilkleylitfest.org.uk

There are several ways you can apply to become a volunteer!

– Apply via our online form.
– Email a short (max 5-minute) video or audio recording, telling us a little bit about yourself, why you’d like to volunteer and what you hope to get out of the experience.
– Or you can get in touch and arrange for a chat with our Volunteers’ Manager. Email info@ilkleylitfest.org.uk or call 01943 601210


Our volunteers help us stage the festival in so many ways. Take a look at the roles below and see if there’s something of interest…


Live talks and panel discussions take place at venues throughout Ilkley. They traditionally last for 60-90 minutes. Being a Venue Steward is an important and diverse Front of House role. You’ll be the welcoming face of the festival, ensuring our audiences have a brilliant experience attending our events.

As a Venue Steward, you will:
– Help set out venues ready for events
– Manage queues and greet ticket holders
– Answer queries and give directions
– Take tickets on venue doors
– Help audiences find their seats
– Work the microphones during Q&A sessions
– Sit in events as monitors, assisting audiences as needed

In addition to the more traditional interview or panel style events we run workshops, outdoor and children’s events, all of which need the support of our volunteers to run smoothly.


As you can imagine, the weeks leading into the festival are pretty busy at ILF HQ!

Extra hands throughout September are needed to help us get equipment and supplies ready for each venue. You will be prepping signage, event boxes, staff passes and welcome packs for authors, amongst many other things.


If you love the outdoors, you might find yourself on a photography walking tour, urban bird watching walk or writing poetry on the Moors! Volunteers support the author and event manager, making sure all participants feel welcome. You need to be happy outdoors in all weathers and, as these events can last up to 3 hours, fit enough to be on your feet for the duration.


Throughout the year we run events for children and families. These can be active drop-in style events or fun, interactive talks with authors. Whilst it’s great to have experience dealing with children and families, as a parent, teacher or an older sibling, it is not essential in this role. You just need to feel comfortable and enjoy being around younger children and families.


This role supports the festival’s delivery across multiple locations, ensuring essential equipment and materials are in the right place at the right time.  Being a production runner does have physical aspects and will require you to move around and in between venues. You’ll get involved in the more technical side of live events, so an interest in (or previous experience of) this would be desirable. Shifts tend to be focused on the weekends in blocks of up to 6 hours.


If you’re interested in social media, content creation and want to put your creative writing skills to good use, why not join as a social media volunteer! You’ll get to cover various aspects of the festival including talks, workshops and outdoor events.  You’ll help us connect with new and existing audiences through our social platforms, whilst honing your skills and getting real experience working as part of the communications team.

Usually held over the weekends, you will assist the event manager in setting up the workshop space, looking after the author and participants. Those helping are also encouraged to participate.

Most of our programmes are sent by a mailing house, but we still mail many items ourselves.
Volunteers help stuff envelopes throughout the year and distribute these in their local areas.


No previous experience is needed but you will need to be:

  • Punctual and reliable
  • Practical and committed
  • Enjoy working with others
  • Smart appearance
  • Have a courteous, calm approach when dealing with the general public
  • Supportive of the Festival’s commitment to making events accessible and welcoming


In mid-September we provide a full October festival briefing. This covers the full range of topics you need to be aware of, including Health and Safety and festival procedures.  All volunteers need to attend, particularly so for the first year of volunteering.

Specific roles may need additional training too.

All events are run by an Event Manager so you will never be left alone.

If you have any questions or queries about becoming a volunteer, please contact us via info@ilkleylitfest.org.uk