Bookfeast Schools Festival

Kristina Stephenson talk at the North Wall

Kristina Stephenson talk at the North Wall

The Bookfeast Schools Festival is an annual event held at various interesting and inspiring venues in Oxford. In the past these have included Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers Museum, the Weston Library, the Ashmolean, The North Wall and the Story Museum.  In May 2017 we were fortunate enough to move the Festival to St Hugh’s College, Oxford.

Taking place over three to four days in May, we aim to offer around 2,000 primary school pupils the opportunity to meet top children’s authors, illustrators and poets. With bookselling managed by Blackwell’s Oxford, children are able to buy books at the events and have them signed by the author.

In addition to the Schools Festival Bookfeast organises a number of one-off author events around the county at other times of the year, ensuring that around another 500 children can listen to and meet authors.

Bookfeast Schools Festival 2018

The 2018 Bookfeast Schools Festival will take place from 2nd-4th May at St Hugh’s College, Oxford. The line-up of authors and illustrators includes:

Philip Ardagh & Elissa Elwick, Matt Carr, Tracey Corderoy, Elys Dolan, Abi Elphinstone, Claire Fayers, Pip Jones & Adam Stower, Jennifer Killick, Layn Marlow, Tom Percival, Tony de Saulles, Kaye Umansky, Steve Webb and Jeanne Willis

Oxfordshire primary schools are now invited to book their tickets and the deadline for bookings is Friday 2nd March. Please download your 2018 Festival Application Pack using the link below:

Bookfeast Schools Festival Application Pack 2018

Bookfeast Schools Festival 2017

We would like to thank the St Hugh’s community for enabling us to host the Bookfeast Schools Festival at the College in May 2017. We greatly appreciated the support of the Principal and key Fellows. The event would not have been possible without the invaluable help of the Conference Office, Thea Crapper, Luke Jackson-Ross, Kate Mellersh and the IT team.

The Festival was an enormous success:

  • 1740 Primary School children came to Festival events, plus 215 accompanying teachers and other adults, between May 16th and May 19th.
  • There were 21 author sessions, with 16 participating authors and illustrators, including Michael Rosen, Piers Torday, Cas Lester, Jo Cotterill, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Tom Moorhouse and Holly Swain, Pip Jones, Clare Vulliamy and Polly Faber, Laura Wood, Teresa Heapy, Pip Jones, Yasmin Ismail, Gary Northfield and Suzanne Barton.
  •  21 schools attended, from all across Oxfordshire. Of these, 20 were state schools.
  • 291 children participated in a trail exploring the College grounds and history.

Visiting St Hugh’s College had a significant impact on pupils and school staff:

“Great to be here and see what a college is like – we really need to raise aspirations.” Teacher, North Kidlington Primary School

Across the four days Helena Kiff and Myfanwy Lloyd, both College Alumni, also held bespoke workshops with school groups of 8 to 11 year olds offering them the opportunity to ask about St Hugh’s, going to university, and life as a student. Questions included:

“What can you study here? Is there anything I can’t study?”

“Would I get to live somewhere like this?”

“Are there more libraries like this one?”

“Could you become a doctor here?”


Bookfeast Schools Festival 2016

The 2016 Bookfeast Schools Festival was a huge success involving around 1800 pupils from 22 Oxfordshire primary schools. We ran 16 author sessions during Festival week including two Shakespeare Focus events to tie in with Oxford’s own celebrations to mark the death of Shakespeare. In addition, to extend the reach of the Bookfeast Festival, arts organisation Flash of Splendour delivered 5 unique Shakespeare workshops for children in Y5-6 at schools around the county. Around 400 children also took part in additional and enriching experiences after their author sessions – a creative writing trail (Pitt Rivers) and tours of two exhibitions: Animal (Story Museum) and Shakespeare’s Dead (Weston Library).

Authors taking part in the Bookfeast Festival in 2016 included: Atinuke, Sarah Courtauld, Julia Golding, Adam & Charlotte Guillain, A.F. Harrold, Cas Lester, Gill Lewis, M.G. Leonard, Christopher Lloyd, Lauren St John, Robin Stevens, Sean Taylor, Sam Watkins, Marcia Williams and Katherine Woodfine.

Events varied from ‘sing-alongs’ with pirates to African storytelling, practical sessions on how to write crime fiction and mysteries, and stories featuring talking beetles, Jekyll and Hyde teachers, dragons, unconventional fairies and dogs of all shapes and sizes. One courageous author brought along her own inspiration for her latest series – Murphy the Leonberger (see photos below) who wowed his audience with his passion for sausages and his high fives.

Bookfeast would like to thank all the wonderful and inspiring venues for hosting Festival events: Pitt Rivers Museum, The Story Museum, the Weston Library, the North Wall and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. These venues add so much to the children’s overall Festival experience, and the authors love visiting them too!

Such a lot to inspire them! Especially good to see those children who might not have visited or experienced such a setting so excited and inspired.” Teacher, Beckley Primary School

“Thank you for organising such a wonderful event!” Teacher, Fringford Primary School

“Very interactive, fun and at the right level for the children. Would recommend!” Teacher, St Barnabas Primary School

“I enjoyed seeing Shakespeare in comic strip form and having the opportunity to ask Marcia questions.”                                Pupil,  St Christopher’s Primary School

“I loved meeting Murphy the dog and seeing him perform his tricks on stage.” Y3 pupil, Holy Trinity School, Chipping Norton

Gill Murphy with Murphy

Gill Lewis and Murphy at the 2016 Bookfeast Festival

Caz Lester 2016

Cas Lester signing books at the Bookfeast 2016 Festival


For more information about the Bookfeast Schools Festival contact




For Bookfeast Festival 2015 competition winners and winning entries, click here

Bookfeast Schools Festival thanks our sponsors:

Blackwell's For Learning For Life




Oxford University Press