Submissions for ILF 2020 are open from 27 Jan until 31 May. The full programme will be finalised at the end of May, so the earlier you are able to submit the better!

Please be assured we do consider every submission we receive, but sadly are not able to accommodate every talented author and great book on our programme. We’d love to be able to get back to every unsuccessful submission personally –  we are a small team and sadly it’s beyond our capacity to do so. If you have not heard from us by the 31 May please accept our sincere apologies that we have not been able to offer you or your author a place on our programme this year.

If you or an author you represent would like to be part of Ilkley Literature Festival, please read the information below as to how to submit.

About Us

Ilkley Literature Festival…

  • is the longest-standing literature festival in the north of England, established in 1973.
  • runs for 17 days every October.
  • programmes over 150 events – talks, panel discussions, poetry readings, performances, writing workshops, and interactive experiences.
  • attracts incredible writers in a wide-ranging and varied programme of genres and subjects. Literary luminaries appearing at the festival over the years have included W.H. Auden, Alan Bennett, Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Ted Hughes, Hilary Mantel and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage to name just a few.
  • will take place Fri 2 – Sun 18 October 2020.


  • Ilkley is an attractive spa town just to the north of Leeds and Bradford.
  • Good transport links with direct trains to Leeds and Bradford taking just 30 minutes.
  • Leeds-Bradford Airport is an easy 20-min drive.

What we programme:

  • Fiction
  • Non-Fiction
  • Children’s (3-12 yrs)
  • Young Adult (12+ yrs)
  • Poetry
  • Writing workshops and masterclasses

In addition to our wide-ranging general programme, for each annual iteration of the festival we look to curate events around 4-6 specific themes or strands. Please see below for info on the themes under consideration for exploration in 2020.


Ilkley and its surroundings boast a variety of high-quality venues to suit a range of audience capacities from 50 to 500.

2020 Themes/Strands

We welcome submissions of intriguing books of all kinds of topics, and love to hear about fascinating writers who enjoy being on stage and meeting readers, so please don’t think we are only interested in books that fit into one of these strands!

However, should it happen that one of your 2020 publications touches upon one of the themes below, we are keen to hear from you.


Are we facing a loneliness epidemic? We hope to shed light on this increasingly common mental health issue through non-fiction, fiction and poetry.

“Difficult Women”

Transgressive women of all kinds: the career pioneers, the social non-conformers. If a woman has ever been labelled ‘unlikeable’ or ‘difficult’, we want to hear about/from her!

Justice / Injustice

We want to explore the concepts of justice and injustice socially, philosophically, morally and legally.

After 1945: The Rise (and Fall?) of the New World Order

In the aftermath of WWII and the horror of the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the leaders of a weary and battle-scarred world came together to establish institutions – The United Nations, NATO, the IMF – which would reduce the likelihood of devastating global conflict occurring again. 75 years later these institutions are facing challenges which seem to be shaking their very foundations. How did we get from there to here and what does it mean for the security of our fragile globe?

Confronting the Climate Crisis

The threat is urgent and the timescale for effective action is short. We want to investigate the true size and scale of the challenge we face. Will our individual lifestyle choices be enough or does real hope now only lie in pressuring politicians and corporations through collective activism? In what ways can each of us really make a difference?

Publishers, Writers and Poets:

If you would like to be part of ILF 2020, ask your publicist at your publishing company to get in touch with us by completing this form.

If you are working on a particular project or touring show that might be suitable for the festival, please email us.

If you are a self published writer, a local writers group or have an idea for a more unusual event, please take a look at how to apply to be part of our Fringe Festival.

Details of our poetry competition can be found here.

Details of our micro-comissions can be found here.

Pitches from small, independent presses are welcomed as much as those from major publishing houses.


Have a question about programming or want to email us? Drop us a line at programme@ilkleylitfest.org.uk