CHILDREN AND FAMILIES DAY – for all ages, children, and families.
Light refreshments, snacks, and lunches available on site!


Lower Shaw Farm, West Swindon SN5 5PJ
Tel 01793 535534 
(11am to 6pm)
10am to 4pm ~ 8th May ~ £5

10.30am and onwards -  Circle Garden Campfire Storytelling with tale teller Cat Weatherill by an open fire, in the open air, telling tales from here there and everywhere. 

10.30am Sunny and Zoe.
Author and illustrator Zozo Thomas, who shares her garden with cats, chickens, and wildlife, presents her new book. It tells a story about Sunny, the lonely onion. Suitable for all the family, a book to read, enjoy, and with lots of puzzles and colouring in!

10.30am onwards – Vicky Hirsch workshop.
Design and print your own book plate with craftswoman Vicky Hirsch.

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11.30am Piggery Jokery by Hand to Mouth Theatre.
A delightful half hour puppet show telling a tale that travels through the seasons. It is told by the Green Man and his hurdy-gurdy playing Droning Crone and their troupe of rag-bag characters. There is lots of laughter along the way as the old farmer tends his land and fattens Piggy-Wiggy for the winter. Extremely suitable for audience members of all ages!

12midday – An African/Caribbean inspired workshop of rhythm and movement for all – with Asafo Gyata, Bafana Matea, and friends - as part of Africa Writes Swindon events.

12.30pm Go on an adventure – with Katherine Rundell. For ages 8+.
A story about a group of children who will do anything to right a wrong. Suitable for all the family. 
The Good Thieves, a page-turning adventure book, is a modern classic from the prizewinning and bestselling author of five novels for children.
Katherine is also the author of a book for adults called Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise.

1pm The Incredible Smell, new rhyming story for children by Festival favourite poet Matt Harvey. Come and be the first to hear it, help it, and make it rhyme.

2pm Piggery Jokery puppet show – another performance.

3pm Circus Performance Finale!

All day, look out for WATERSTONES BOOKSHOP with their wonderful selection of books for the young and young at heart! 

ALSO, on Children and Families Day at Lower Shaw Farm, there may be a TREASURE HUNT, TALKING with the ANIMALS, READING & WRITING TIME, WORD GAMES, and maybe even a little bit of PLAY, ROPE-SWINGING, and HAMMOCK-JUMPING in the BIG BARN! Come, and have fun!

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Katherine Rundell – on Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne.


Reading Room, Central Library, Regent Circus SN1 1QG
Tel 01793 535534 (11am to 6pm)
4pm ~ 8th May ~ £7 (£6)

What do we know about John Donne and his myriad lives? One thing’s for sure: he was more than mere poet!
In her newly-published and very modern biography of John Donne, known as ‘the poet of love, sex, and death’, prizewinning author Katherine Rundell, who writes both about books and tightrope walking, who spent part of her childhood in Africa before eventually becoming a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, tells a fascinating story of perhaps the greatest love poet in the history of the English language, showing us the many sides of Donne’s extraordinary life. 

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Photograph: Nina Subin

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Festival Finale - where the Festival ends!

Festival Finale


Town Hall, Regent Circus SN1 1QF
Tel 01793 535534 
(11am to 6pm)
7.30pm ~ 8th May ~ £9 (£8)


With spellbinding stories, soul-searching songs, serious circus skills, wicked wordplay, marvellous music, performers at their peak, and a new book about the wonders of being human, this promises to be a fitting Finale to the twenty-ninth Swindon Festival of Literature.

Poet, lyricist, and columnist Matt Harvey has been a familiar voice on BBC Radio 4 and TV for more than two decades. During lockdown his Hi Coronavirus poem went viral. Matt’s collections of seriously serious, insightful, and delightful poems, including The Hole in the Sum of my Parts and Where Earwigs Dare, are classics of the genre.

Critically-acclaimed author, journalist, and multi-tasking mother of five, Clover Stroud marvels at life, even after a death. Last year, her sister Nell, friend of this festival and founder of Gifford’s Circus, when given years to live, suddenly died. In her new book The Red of My Blood, Clover charts a fearless passage in a life interrupted by death. Lyrical, hopeful, and life-affirming, it’s a reminder of the wonders of being human. 

Sufi-soul singer and songwriter Sarah Yaseen sings in English and Urdu, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, the 1-string ektara or with Arabic derbuka. Sarah is also a frontline singer with the world music ensemble, Rafiki Jazz and guest singer with Denmark’s all-women global ensemble Radiant Arcadia. 

Globetrotting storyteller Cat Weatherill, who loves language and dazzling images, does not sit in a chair or read from a book: she stands up and tells super stories! 

Handstander extraordinaire Nina Savidi performs Upside Down Ideas, Ανάποδες ιδέες, an interpretation of an experience her Greek grandmother had, of her first time at the circus over half a century ago. 

In an appropriately circus-fuelled performance, Jacob Hi-Ho, Darine Flanagan, Ben Walker, Michael Fergie and the Suitcase Soundsystem, will present a physically frolicsome final finale as only they can do, to celebrate being human, healthy, grateful, and happy. 

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Photograph: Paul Clarke

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