Primadonna Festival to return as physical event this summer

Primadonna Festival to return as physical event this summer

The Primadonna Festival will go ahead as a physical event this summer returning to Suffolk in a new venue with guests including Naoise Dolan, Adele Parks and Michèle Roberts. 

The 2021 festival will take place at the Museum of East Anglian Life in the market town of Stowmarket from 30st July to 1st August. “The venue may be different, but Primadonna 2021 promises the same unique mix of big names and emerging voices in fiction and non-fiction, as well as comedy, live music, food, performance and more. The same ingredients which made the festival such a smorgasbord of delight when launched,” organisers said. Tickets for the July 2020 event, which was called off owing to Covid-19, are valid for 2021.  

Food writer Grace Dent will headline at the festival as well as Dolan (author of debut Exciting Times, Weidenfeld & Nicolson), authors Roberts and Parks, anti-racism advocate and activist Sophie Williams and writer and theatre-maker Stella Duffy. Helen Lederer, writer, performer and founder of the Comedy Women in Print Prize, will appear in conversation with Primadonna co-founder Lisa Milton, HQ publisher, in “a no-holds-barred confessional covering the highs and lows of these two indomitable women’s careers”.  

There will also be agents, publishers, promoters and journalists at the event enabling attendees to directly pitch their work or ask industry figures for advice. “Two aspiring writers who went to the first Primadonna came away with book deals, and one of the virtual festival’s participants now writes for Radio 4’s ‘NewsJack’ under the mentorship of Sioned William, a Primadonna co-founder and BBC Radio 4 commissioning editor for comedy,” organisers said.  

The festival also aims to open up the arts to a wider pool of people. According to organisers, the event will run its own Creative Writing ‘Masters’ programme, with teaching modules delivered by Kit de Waal, Shelley Silas, Christy Lefteri and other celebrated authors. The new course will be included in the ticket price, featuring seven hours of teaching with tutorials to be held on the festival site.

“This year will be really special,” co-founder Catherine Mayer said. “To the intense joy of the festival add the sheer delight of interacting with other people in real life and real time. We’re excited to put on an event that will help lift people after the collective hardship of the past year.”  

“There is a wonderful programme in progress and plenty of fantastic talent already confirmed to participate.” 

The Primadonna Festival was the first literary festival in the UK to specifically give prominence to women and writers from underrepresented communities launched in 2019. It was created by 17 women from across the arts industries, including writer Kit de Waal, author and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig and activist Catherine Mayer among others.  

Catherine Riley, who took over as festival director in 2019, said: "We are putting together a weekend of big ideas and small wonders."  

TIckets are now on sale at the Primadonna website. An earlybird adult ticket costs £128.13 with concessionary places costing £102.50.