The irrepressible Felixstowe Book Festival
The Felixstowe Book Festival is now looking forward to 2021 after the challenges and successes of 2020.
The planned festival of visiting authors and workshops had to be completely reviewed when it became apparent that Coronavirus would mean the usual events at the Orwell Hotel and across the town, would not be able to go ahead.
“We kept thinking we could carry on, because my attitude was to keep a ray of optimism for as long as possible!” said Meg Reid, Felixstowe Book Festival Organiser.
Eventually Meg and her team of volunteers, with just four weeks to go, completely re-thought the festival, asking Hot Gossip Media to widen their previous brief from promoting the festival on social media to also facilitating a weekend ‘virtual’ on-line version of the festival. A JustGiving appeal to supporters raised over £1000 to help the festival go ahead.
A request to authors to record ‘A Day in the Life’ videos of themselves resulted in twelve fascinating films for the festival website and there were two further films especially for children to view. Over the festival weekend, the sponsorship of some wonderful supportive businesses, such as Jackamans, enabled six live interviews to be broadcast on Facebook and the festival website.
“The wonderful thing was that all (including the speakers) were prepared to grapple with the technology, and all were willing to give it a go! Hot Gossip worked so well and got everything up and running so efficiently and we ended up with people watching all over the world!” Meg said in amazement.
Instead of speaking to an audience of up to 200, the chosen authors found themselves being watched by people world-wide, all sending in their questions via Facebook. The final figures were in the thousands with Nicola Upson reaching an audience of 1,169, George Alagiah, 3,329, Liz Trenow 5,414 and Carol Drinkwater 3,612 people.
“Not only was it amazing for the authors but it meant that the sponsors’ names and logos were on screen throughout each interview and they were also named and thanked in the broadcasts, thereby reaching significant audiences.”
Meg and her volunteer committee are now steaming ahead with plans for June 2021.
“We have booked the Orwell Hotel for 25-27th June, but are assuming that we will still need to socially distance. We are working out the details, but we may have the bookshop and a takeaway food service in a marquee in the hotel garden. That means the main hall, The Elizabeth Suite, will be free to host the main speakers with a socially distanced audience of 80. After the huge success of the broadcast interviews in 2020, we are looking to film the authors, so people who cannot come to Felixstowe can watch for a reduced fee on-line. It is possible that the smaller hotel rooms might be used for workshops that were cancelled this year; or for intimate events such as afternoon tea with an author. We have really seen the possibilities after what initially seemed a disaster, turned into a great success.”
Meg has already had expressions of interest for 2021 from authors including Carol Drinkwater, Esther Freud, Jojo Moyes and Elly Griffiths, and publishers are already contacting her with their author suggestions.
“Everyone was so enthusiastic. We haven’t had one negative comment from viewers following the festival and people are still viewing the films on our website. The sponsors had increased exposure because of the virtual festival, and it is very exciting to be able to offer them even more publicity than in past years, by continuing the idea. We would really like to pass on our thanks to Jackamans for their continued support,” Meg concluded, “and we are very excited about the future possibilities for the Felixstowe Book Festival.”Back to all articles