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Words by the Water

A Festival of Words and Ideas at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick

After a challenging period post-pandemic, festival organisers are very excited to return to Theatre by the Lake for a five day festival from 5th to 9th June 2024

What started life as a short 3 day festival in Keswick 23 years ago, flourished and expanded to become a 10 day literary feast of a festival which brought enormous joy to so many people. So, in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the loss of Words by the Water was felt by both guests and speakers. The fallow period of the festival has shown all of us how much we need and value the arts and Words by the Water is delighted to be back in Cumbria in full capacity. 

An exciting development in the future of the festival is a new working partnership between independent Keswick bookshop, Bookends and Words by the Water organiser, Leah Varnell. 

Bookends director Lucy Matthews is enthusiastic about the return of the festival: ‘For over 20 years, selling books at the Words by the Water festival has been an annual highlight for Bookends. We know how much our customers look forward to the festival so we are now delighted to welcome it back to the community. We’ll have a very different role this year as, not only will we be selling books, but we will also be organising and running the festival alongside Leah. We are thrilled to be working in partnership like this and believe this year will just be the start of a wonderful new era of Words by the Water.’ 

Leah shares the same excitement as the festival approaches: ‘It has been a really challenging few years in the arts but we are absolutely delighted to be back in full force to share ideas and bring the Words by the Water festival community back together. I’m looking forward to June and hope to see lots of book enthusiasts– new and old – at the theatre again.’

Simon Stephens, Executive Director of Theatre by the Lake also welcomes the return of the festival:  ”Words by the Water has always been an extremely popular event at the theatre and we know audiences have missed it in recent years. We’re really excited for the return of the festival and to be hosting a truly wonderful celebration of literature once again here at Theatre by the Lake.”