Literary Festival 2017 - Althorp Estate Literary Festival 2017 - Althorp Estate

Literary Festival 2017

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Literary Festival 2017

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Described as a Literary Festival like no other, the Althorp Literary Festival is a unique celebration of the written word.

Thursday 5th October – Sunday 8th October 2017

A unique celebration of the written word, the Althorp Literary Festival takes place against the backdrop of one of England’s most beautiful private, historic houses.

Indeed it is hard to think of a more perfect or authentic venue – for literature is central to the story of Althorp.

George John, the 2nd Earl Spencer, amassed one of the greatest private libraries in Europe. By the time of his death in 1834, 43,000 volumes of the rarest, first editions sprawled through Althorp’s ground floor rooms. Today, Althorp’s strong connection with literature remains very much alive for the current Earl, Charles Spencer, is a best-selling historian.

In its first thirteen years, the Festival has been privileged to host over 300 novelists, historians, comedians, actors, politicians sportsmen and television personalities including Bill Bryson, Boris Johnson, Helen Fielding, Darcey Bussell, Sir Tom Stoppard, Twiggy, Sebastian Faulks, Jung Chang and Michael Palin.

Building on the success of Festivals past, the 2017 Althorp Literary Festival in partnership with The Week, was equally as varied and thought-provoking, and we were delighted to welcome our authors and visitors alike. To view the 2017 programme, please click here 


During the Althorp Literary Festival, talks are held in three venues.

Two venues can be found within the House; The State Dining Room and The South Drawing Room. The main auditorium, a large marquee, is situated on the back lawn behind the House.

Book Signings

All of the speakers will be available for book signings after their talks.

For those speaking within the marquee, book signings will be held within the Waterstones marquee, a very short walk away.

For those speaking within The State Dining Room or The South Drawing Room, book signings will take place in the Saloon, at the centre of the House.

Fringe Events

A variety of fringe events take place each day throughout the festival. Events include live music, poetry readings, falconry experiences and publishing workshops, courtesy of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. To view our complete programme please click here. 

Nyetimber Masterclasses – Daily, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm

‘Why not come and discover the artistry and craftsmanship behind every bottle of Nyetimber with a masterclass tasting of our award-winning collection of sparkling wines. Masterclasses are hosted by a Nyetimber Brand Ambassador on the top deck of our 1968 Nyetimber Routemaster and each masterclass will host a maximum of 8 people.’  £10.

Amazon Academy for Authors – Daily, 1.30pm

Learn firsthand how to self-publish your book and reach millions of readers on Amazon with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Through KDP, authors can publish their work in 5 minutes, with the book appearing on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours, all while earning up to 70 per cent royalties and maintaining control of the rights to your book. Join successful independently published KDP authors including LJ Ross and Mark Dawson and the Amazon team as they answer your questions, describe the publishing process and explain their own journey.

Fiori Musicali – Saturday 7th October, 7pm.

A performance from the spectacular Fiori Musicali to celebrate Monteverdi 450th. A brilliant choral and instrumental music to mark the birth 450 years ago of Claudio Monteverdi – the greatest musical genius of the early 17th Century. 

This performance will be held at St Mary’s Church, Great Brington.

Tickets are priced at £20 and can be purchased via Lance Taylor on 01604 770 097. All ticket proceeds will be going to the Tower Restoration fund, for St Mary’s Church.

Food, Drink & Shopping

The Althorp Stables Cafe offers a wide selection of fresh salads, sandwiches, pastries and cakes throughout the day, along with a varied selection of hot and cold drinks, including wine.

Other food options available throughout the Althorp Literary Festival include wood-fired pizza and Mexican delicacies, courtesy of The Original Pizza Box and Baja Cantina.

In addition to the Althorp Gift Shop, there will be an array of pop-up shops and boutiques on site including, AT Cross, Tielle Loves Luxury, The Stamford Notebook Company and Winser London who will be showcasing their latest collections.

The Official Festival Bookseller, Waterstones, can be found both in a marquee located on the side lawn and in The Saloon, within the House.

Opening Times and Parking

The gates will open each day at 9.30am and close 30 mins after the end of the last session. All visitors are required to park in the car park, by Althorp’s West Gate. This is located on Chinkwell Lane, on the road to Great Brington – postcode: NN7 4HQ.  For further information on how to find us, please click here.

There will be a courtesy shuttle bus running from the West Gate entrance to the Stables Courtyard for festival goers to use. Alternatively we advise guests to allow 15 minutes to walk from the car park to the House.


We are delighted to be supporting the Hope Centre at this year’s Althorp Literary Festival. Working to relieve poverty and tackle the causes of homelessness in Northampton by giving people a hand up, not a handout, donations can be made onsite, to help support their fantastic work.


Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa is our official Festival Partner. Steeped in tradition and history, Fawsley Hall is a beautiful, luxury country house hotel in Northamptonshire, located 25 minutes from Althorp.

Alternative accommodation can be found here.


Please see below for the speakers at the 2017 Althorp Literary Festival.


The 14th Althorp Literary Festival took place from Thursday 5th October to Sunday 8th October, 2017

To view the programme for each day of the Festival, and additional information about each talk, please select a day and click on the session time.

Supporters & Sponsors

We would like to extend a big thank you to each of our superb partners and supporters, without whom the Althorp Literary Festival wouldn’t be able to take place.

To find out more about our partners, please click on their logos.

Kids Festival

2017 saw the inaugural Children’s Festival sponsored by Sheaffer and supported by First for Wellbeing. Taking place on Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 2pm, the festival featured a variety of children’s authors alongside story-telling and poetry readings. Children could also create their own newspaper courtesy of The Week Junior, and participate in a live debate!


1. What is the Althorp Literary Festival and when is it? 

The Althorp Literary Festival is a celebration of the written word where speakers will hold events across several venues in and around Althorp House.

The 2017 Festival took place on Thursday 5th – Sunday 8th October.

2. Where does the Festival take place?

The Festival site encompasses Althorp House,  Stables Courtyard and the side and back lawns.

3. What does the ticket price include? 

A single session ticket to the Althorp Literary Festival includes access to the selected talk, access to the grounds and seasonal exhibitions.  A grounds only ticket gives no access to the Althorp Literary Festival. There is no additional access to Althorp House during the Althorp Literary Festival.

Please note that the House is not open for tours during the Althorp Literary Festival.

4. How do I buy tickets? 

Tickets to the Althorp Literary Festival can be bought online or on the gate, on the day, subject to availability. Additional sessions, also subject to availability, can be purchased at our on-site booking office.

5. Timings 

The Festival gates will open at 9.30m and closed at 7pm.

6. How do I get there? 

Directions to the house can be found here. The full address is Althorp, Northampton, NN7 4HQ.

7. Do you cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements? 

We try to offer a variety of foods at each event covering vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.

8. Are dogs allowed? 

Dogs are not permitted on the Estate due to our livestock, with the exception of guide and assistance dogs.

9. Is there disabled access? 

Blue Badge parking is available on request. The Estate, Stables and ground floor of the House are fully accessible to wheelchair users. There is no assisted access available to the upstairs rooms in the House.

Please be advised that access to one of the venues, The Picture Gallery, is located upstairs, so wheelchair access isn’t possible.

10. Is the festival child-friendly? 

There will be a children’s festival running on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th October with talks and activities for 8-12 year olds. Children are welcome to attend other sessions but please be aware the talks last 45 minutes – 1 hour each. The children’s festival is open from 10am – 2.30pm on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th October.

11. Are there cash machines? 

There are no cash machines onsite so we advise that you bring cash.

12. Can visitors pay by card? 

Visitors can pay for their tickets at the gate by card. Cards can also be used for payments in the Althorp Gift Shop and Cafe and Waterstones, our official festival bookseller. Each additional retailer and food outlet are different, so some may have card payment facilities, some may not.

13. Are there car-parking facilities on site? 

Free car parking is available to all visitors, please note that there is a 5 to 10-minute walk from the car park through the grounds to the House, however, a shuttlebus will be running regular shuttles from the visitor entrance to the festival entrance.

14. Is smoking permitted on site? 

Smoking is not permitted on site.

15. Can I bring alcohol? 

No, guests are not permitted to bring alcohol into the Festival. There will be a selection of stalls serving alcohol at the event. If a guest is found to be bringing in alcohol they will be escorted off the premises and no refund will be given.

What People Say

“The chance to meet fellow writers in such fine surroundings and in such an unrushed way was particularly special.”
Michael Palin

“Many congratulations on the Althorp Literary Festival – leaving your rivals in the shade.”
Boris Johnson

“Thank you for inviting us to partner with the Althorp Literary Festival – what a fantastic event it is! The whole experience was so smooth and enjoyable. We are all very pleased with the results”
Festival Partner

“Althorp in Northamptonshire, home to the Earl Spencer and the site of one of the loveliest Literary Festivals”
London Evening Standard


If you have any questions regarding the Althorp Literary Festival please contact us via email at or by calling us on 01604 770 107

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