• 65 events took place across the weekend with highlights including Bernardine Evaristo, Grayson Perry, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Ben Okri, David Olusoga, Elizabeth Day, Nadiya Hussain, Jay Rayner, Stacey Dooley, Elif Shafak, and many more.

• 40% of ticketed events were free and all events were fully accessible and BSL interpreted.

• Five additional Words Weekend festivals are planned for 2020. The next edition is at The Lowry Salford and is on sale now. Words Weekend returns to Sage Gateshead in April 2021.

12,000 people attended the very first edition of Words Weekend, a brand-new spoken word festival from Fane which took place at Sage Gateshead this weekend.  65 events took place with diversity and accessibility at the heart of the festival; 40% of the programme was free and everything was gold standard accessible.  Described by festival goers as ‘Glastonbury for librarians’ the programme showcased the rich talent, heritage and culture of the North East alongside international literary giants such as 2019 Booker prize winner Bernardine Evaristo, Michael Morpurgo, Ben Okri and Elif Shafak. Turner-prize winner Grayson Perry made his Gateshead debut, festival ambassador Liv Little hosted a gal-dem takeover and music performances included the reunion of Gil-Scott Heron’s old band.

Alex Fane, Managing Director of Fane, said

We are thrilled by how many people came to our first festival this weekend at Sage Gateshead.  Words Weekend is a commitment to the future: not to rely on what has been done before and to instigate change wherever possible.  We wanted to create a new kind of literary festival centred around three core principles: diversity, accessibility and the best culture the UK has to offer.  Equally as important is our commitment to pay authors fairly on a favoured nations fee structure, something we hope will become industry standard.  We’ll be back at Sage Gateshead in 2021 and now look forward to the next Words Weekend at The Lowry in March 2020.’

Tickets are now on-sale for the second Words Weekend festival at The Lowry, Salford.  The line-up so far includes Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Simon Armitage, Frank Turner, Shaun Ryder, The Fall’s Paul and Steve Hanley, Max Porter, Emma Jane Unsworth, Kwame Alexander, Cash Carraway, Stuart Maconie, Dave Haslam and Nikesh Shukla, with more names to be announced. The festival takes place 27-29 March 2020, and tickets are now on sale. Four additional Words Weekend festivals are planned for 2020 including London next summer. For more information: wordsweekend.com.