The Southbank Centre is expecting 87,000 visitors to this year's event, which will welcome authors and illustrators such as Cressida Cowell, Malorie Blackman, Chris Riddell, Jacqueline Wilson and David McKee.
The company has organised 180 events across the 12 days (13-24th February), with 50% being free to attendees. It expects to sell 27,000 tickets across the festival, and welcome 5,000 visitors to our free events each day, meaning 87,000 people will visit in total, a spokesperson told The Bookseller.
Festival programmer Tamsin Ace said: “This year we are bursting at the seams with activities and events to inspire, engage and entertain. With the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room reopening in April 2018, after two years’ refurbishment, we’re back to full capacity across our 17-acre site - which just means more fun for everyone.”
Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman and Chris Riddell will celebrate 20 years of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate, while poet Joseph Coelho will lead a storytelling game of ‘consequences’ for more than 1,300 school children. Illustrator and author David McKee will celebrate the 30th birthday of Elmer the Elephant (Andersen Press) and the current children’s laureate Lauren Child will appear on stage with Alexandra Derbyshire, the executive producer on the Paddington films.
Free events include ‘Morning Music Time’, ‘Bedtime Stories’ and this year’s ‘book in a day’ will be Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon (Hodder Children’s Books): special guests, who are yet to be announced, will read the whole book over the course of 23rd February, culminating in a book signing with Cowell.
The festival has created many inclusive events, including one on ‘touch to see books’ with Living Paintings, a charity which makes tactile and audio books for blind and partially sighted people, and the ‘Time for Bed’ storytelling sessions will be signed on 16th and 22nd February.
There will also be poetry events, organised in collaboration with The National Poetry Library, featuring Ed Boxall, Karl Nova and Rachel Rooney, among others.
The authors, illustrators and poets are represented by 10 different publishers, said the Southbank Centre.