Weekend of Words launches at the Grade II* listed water palace on Friday 7 June

It became a UNESCO City of Literature in 2017 and Manchester’s literary landscape continues to thrive: save for the loss of Aspidistra and Chapter One’s transformation from bookshop to café, all of our pre-bid roundup still stands and University Green’s shiny new Blackwell’s has become a beacon of author events since launching earlier this year. 

Now Manchester can boast yet another string to its bookish bow, with the announcement of a new literary festival in the Grade II* listed Victoria Baths. 

170201 Victoria Baths 1 170201 Victoria Baths 2

Taking place from 7-9 June, Weekend of Words will creatively explore the written word through performance, poetry, specially commissioned short stories, workshops, pop-up readings and more besides. The family-friendly event will bring together some of the North West’s most celebrated writers, alongside emerging talent, and features storytelling sessions to keep the littluns entertained too.    

Supporting all of the programme will be Victoria Baths’ inaugural writer-in-residence, Sarah-Clare Conlon, who’ll be creating a new body of work influenced by the stories and structure of Manchester’s beloved water palace; uncovered from its extensive archive material available and regular visits writing in-situ. 

Sarah Clare Conlon Gwen Riley Jones
Sarah-Clare Conlon is an acclaimed local writer and performer

Fancy writing yourself? She’s also judging Splash: a water-themed creative writing competition complete with £100 cash prize (entries close midnight, Sunday 4 August).  

Weekend of Words: What’s on?


A concert in the Gala Pool by harpist Eira Lynn Jones and flautist Anna Rosa Mari, also known as The Juniper Project, will launch the festival. All funds will go towards supporting Victoria Baths in its ongoing restoration journey.


Day events span place-writing workshops (flash fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction) to a poetry panel in the beautiful Turkish Baths, while evening sees six established and emerging writers perform Baths-inspired short stories against a backdrop of magical projections. The tearoom will be open 10.30am - 3.30pm for drinks, sandwiches and cakes. All events cost just £5 each and all Saturday ticket holders get free entry to the ‘Talks, Tales & Tours’ event on Sunday.


A day of author talks, interactive children’s storytelling, readings in the former superintendent's flat and Victorian theatre in the female pool. There’ll also be an indie book fair and choir performances, as well as food options including the tearoom and a wood-fired pizza stall. Optional £5 building tours will take place throughout the day, including to areas normally off-limits.

Weekend of Words is supported using public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England