Author photos of Polly Toynbee, Eleanor Catton, James Naughtie and Mat Osman alongside their book covers

It has been a hectic start to 2023 at Festival HQ…

We began on a very positive note with our Manifesto for Essex Climate Emergency Youth Summit. This took place at Firstsite in mid-January as part of the inaugural EA Sustain Festival.

Anyone who was at Firstsite on the day will be aware of the amazing range of speakers in the building, extending from award-winning nature writer Helen MacDonald, Sarah Langford and Mark Cocker, to leading British environmentalist Tony Juniper and Lord Deben, Chairman of the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change. It was an inspirational day, to say the least, for all involved but especially for our young delegates.

This was quickly followed by the launch of this year’s Schools’ Project, Spoken Word Power, which involves three accomplished poets running workshops in schools on Canvey Island. The fun doesn’t stop there. A selection of the new young poets will be invited to participate in a regional schools’ slam event hosted by Basildon’s Towngate Theatre as part of World Poetry Day celebrations.

To say that we are in awe of the achievements of our young people is something of an understatement!

Take a look at the photos from our Manifesto For Essex Climate Emergency Youth Summit on Flickr

A group of people sat around a table discussing the Climate Emergency at the Youth Summit

The Tip of the Iceberg: Essex Book Festival 2023

The Festival team is currently in the process of nailing down the final details of this year’s Essex Book Festival, which is taking place 1st June-1st July.

There are some tantalising authors and events in the mix. This includes our launch event with Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee who will be launching this years’ festival at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford on June 2nd.

Other highlights include Booker Prize Winner Eleanor Catton, who will sharing insights into her new book Birnam Wood at Chelmsford Library. Rockband Suede fans are in for treat as bass player Mat Osman returns to Essex to talk about his latest book, The Ghost Theatre, while BBC Broadcaster/Writer James Naughtie will be joining us for our Criminally Good Day, which is taking place at the wonderful Electric Palace Cinema in Harwich.

The full programme will be announced on 4th April when tickets go on sale via

Author photos of Polly Toynbee, Eleanor Catton, James Naughtie and Mat Osman