Two seaside shows are expected to mark the return of live public performances at this year’s Folkestone Book Festival.

Musicians, writers and performers will come together on Folkestone Beach for two nights of specially curated folk music, writings and readings on the sea, against the backdrop of the Harbor Arm.

Seaside Sea Pavilion by artist Sol Calero in Folkestone Photo: Thierry Bal

The work of Venezuelan artist Sol Calero, Casa Anacaona, will host the Sea Pavilion for performances on Friday June 11 and Saturday June 12.

Singers and musicians including Seth Lakeman, former Bellowhead frontman Jon Boden; double bassist and composer Ben Nicholls and guitarist Jack Rutter will be in attendance.

The music will be interwoven with readings on the sea by Madeleine Bunting, successful writer and broadcaster Charlie Connelly and RADA graduate actor Evlyne Oyedokun.

Alastair Upton, Managing Director of Creative Folkestone, said: “We are delighted to welcome the public once again to enjoy the live events this summer. The Sea Pavilion will be an invitation for everyone to come to the far reaches of the UK to enjoy a stellar line-up. Inspired by Folkestone’s connection to the sea and maritime history, the Sea Pavilion will be a pretty special part of this year’s festival.

“This year, the festival itself will take a big leap into the future by presenting a new digital festival alongside in-person events.”

The seafront pavilion will be the backdrop for the two nights Photo: Thierry Bal
The seafront pavilion will be the backdrop for the two nights Photo: Thierry Bal

The Wellerman slum, which recently became a TikTok sensation, refers to the whaling ships owned by the Weller brothers, who originated in Folkestone before emigrating to Australia and New Zealand. Festival curators Sean Doran and Liam Browne used it as inspiration for the Sea Pavilion program.

This year’s festival – titled The Shape of Things to Come – aims to look to the future when it runs from Friday June 4 to Sunday June 13.

Drawing inspiration from author HG Wells, a 13-year resident of Folkestone, he will also examine views, predictions and opinions on a world trying to emerge from a pandemic.

Seth lakeman
Seth lakeman

Among the events that take place before the live audience are parties with author and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi; poet and author Hollie McNish; Guardian foreign correspondent and bestselling author Luke Harding; Columnist and author Polly Toynbee, politician Oliver Letwin and Katherine Rundell will also face questions from local elementary school students.

There will be new commissions from international writers including English-speaking Indian novelist and poet Amit Chaudhuri, Brazilian writer Julian Fuks and Cameroonian novelist and oprah Winfrey Book Club, Imbolo Mbue.

Hollie McNish Photo: Helmi Okbara
Hollie McNish Photo: Helmi Okbara

Other highlights include chef and food writer Anna Jones on vegetarianism and the future of the planet; Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Chancellor Lord David Lammy and Dublin-based writer Mark O’Connell.

Anna Jones will be at the Folkestone Book Festival
Anna Jones will be at the Folkestone Book Festival

There will also be special events to mark the time that Nobel Prize winner and playwright Samuel Beckett stayed in the city in March 1961, which will take place on the weekends of June 4-6 and June 11-13.

Festival audiences will be invited to follow in Beckett’s footsteps around Folkestone, guided through a hotel on the Leas, through a pub and ending at the birth, death and marriage registry. In each location, they will hear new fictional monologues, read by actors and projected on vintage televisions.

For the full program and to book tickets, visit or 01303 760750 or in person at the Quarterhouse Box Office in Mill Bay, Folkestone.

Fifth Folkestone Triennial to be held this fall.

For more information on entertainment in Kent, click here.

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