Shifting gears: how does a literary festival become a drive-in event?

Shifting gears: how does a literary festival become a drive-in event?July 18, 2020

Rethought for the pandemic, this year’s Appledore book festival in Devon will play to audiences in cars, who can flash their lights and listen via radio

Booklovers at the Appledore book festival this September will not be able to subject their favourite authors to the usual detailed questioning after a reading. Instead, the north Devon event is setting out to become the UK’s first ever drive-in book festival, where audience members will need to submit questions in advance, and flash their car lights to alert writers to their presence.

The Appledore book festival has been running annually since 2006, but organisers said that after months of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, it became clear that this year’s event would not be able to go ahead if social distancing was still in place. Many of the UK’s book festivals, from Hay to Wigtown, have gone online-only in the wake of the pandemic, but the Appledore team came up with the idea of a drive-in festival, to be held in the grounds of the local Skern Lodge outdoor activity centre.

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