Wolverhampton Literature Festival 2018: Thousands expected in city for event starting this week
Thousands of literary lovers are set to pour into the heart of the city when a festival bursts into life this week.
Almost 100 acts will help bring an eclectic mix of music, art, theatre and comedy to the city for the second Wolverhampton Literature Festival.
Organiser Phil Turner said the team behind the festivities hope visitor numbers will top last year's record of 3,000.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s explosive Rivers of Blood speech.
And to mark the occasion, the Express & Star is hosting what is sure to be a fiery discussion on the former Wolverhampton MP’s legacy.
It will feature a six-strong panel consisting of academics, politicians and authors, all of whom have a personal interest in Powell and the impact his incendiary words have had on modern day Britain.
The debate takes place on Saturday at 2.30pm in Wolverhampton University's MC001 building.
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Mr Turner said: "The festival was so successful last year, we just wanted to do it again. There's never been anything like this in the city before and there's so much writing and literary talent in Wolverhampton.
"Last year, and this year, it basically happened on the good will and the talents of people. Every single act was local but this year we have spread it a little bit further."
The three-day festival will see events spill into venues across the city including Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Newhampton Arts Centre, The Slade Rooms, Bantock House and The Grand Theatre.
Workshops, theatrical performances and debates, as well as events for children including storytelling, have been included on the line-up.
Award-winning writer and journalist Will Self will headline the celebrations, which will run from Friday until Sunday.
Slade drummer Don Powell, Magnum keyboardist Mark Stanway, Only Fools and Horses actor John Challis and author Lynsey Hanley will also feature.
The 'Great Big Children's Story Time' event will see families enjoy storytelling at Wolverhampton's 16 libraries simultaneously from 11.30am on Saturday.
Mr Turner said: "I'm really excited. It's at that stage where it's really busy but by the time the festival comes, and we can see people having a good time, that will make it all worth while.
"The festival keeps the city and the venues quite vibrant because there is so much going on and that's the way it should be.
"People will have a really good time - it's interesting, it's educational, it's funny at times. It really does encourage creativity, seeing someone inspirational."
Three themes - music and literature, politics and journalism and community voices - are set to run throughout the three-day celebrations.
Wolverhampton council's libraries services won £13,250 of funding from the Arts Council's Grants for Arts programme to help grow this year's festival - which is supported by the Express & Star.
The funding boost meant the literature festival is secured for the next four years, with organisers now looking to establish it as a permanent fixture in the city's calendar.