What festivals are on in London this May bank Holiday?

Interested in South Asian culture? Here’s what not to miss this May

The UK has long been known for its spectacular celebrations for art and literature across platforms. While traditional festivals like the Bath Literary Festival is celebrating its 70th anniversary with the likes of Susie Orbach, Amanda Palmer and SparkFest, comparatively younger festivals, such as the Bradford Literary festival includes songwriters and Manga workshops to give it a more contemporary touch.

Against this highly charged literary scene, we bring to you two festivals this May! Alchemy, a festival celebrating the cultural connections between South Asia and the UK and our own annual Litro Weekender festival to celebrate literature arising from the heart of the Korean and Indian culture.

With a spectacular mix of the new and the old, from the 4th May to the 7th May, Alchemy will titillate the senses of the audiences with a plethora of sights, sounds and smells. For 4 days at the South Bank Centre, they will host music, dance, performance and comedy events that will not only entertain you but also whet your appetite for the KERB Street Food Market for a scintillating taste of South Asia. 

Lose yourself as the vibrant team of Shiamak Davar, SHIAMAK UK DANCE TEAM, takes the stage to enthral you with gorgeous costumes and flamboyant moves or listen to The Ska Vengers for a refreshingly new take on music that blends elements of dub, punk, jazz and rap.

Highlights of the festival include a musical tour by Jarvis Cocker of the pop sensation ABBA, a solo dance performance by Akash Odera who combines Kathak dance with theatre, comedy and spoken word and much more! Take your pick from the mix of free and ticketed events to enjoy a weekend of music and dance from South Asia!

And that is not all this May! Our literary festival Litro Weekender’18 will bring to you 4 days of engaging events that explore questions on translating the Indian experience and discovering the Soul of Seoul, from 24th May – 27th May with panels on The Power of Translation across Fiction and Borders, Film Screening of The Old Garden, Negotiating the Net in an age of Fake News, discussions on the MeToo Movement, masterclass on writing, poetry reading sessions, and in an event chaired by female rights activist Sadaf Saaz, award winning translator Bae Suah will discuss how women are reclaiming the canon with journalist and commentator Suki Kim and award winning author Krys Lee.

 We will be joined by renowned writers and artists such as Suki Kim (The Interpreter), Krys Lee (How I Became a North Korean), Tishani Doshi (Countries of the Body) poet and dancer, Bae Suah (Recitation) contemporary Korean Author, Sadaf Saaz (Sari Reams) poet and director of Dhaka Literature Festival, writer Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay (Abandon), Anjali Joseph (The Living), Mary Lynn Bracht (White Chrysanthemum) and the Jaipur Literary Festival who will guest curate the events of the concluding day.a Two of our latest World Series installments Translating India (guest edited by Shashi Tharoor) launched in January at the Jaipur Literary Festival and Korean Women Grab Back due to be launched at the Litro Weekender at SOAS University, will carry in print the voices of writers from the two vibrant and undeniably diverse cultures.  

Litro’s founder and Editor-in-Chief Eric Akoto says, “Translating India and Korean Women Grab Back draws from a pot of languages and lives.”

So for 4 days this summer immerse yourself in the dazzling wonder of the rich heritage of these cultures!

“I’m looking forward to seeing other people engage with women writers from South Korea. ”

                                                    – Mary Lynn Bracht

Access full list of events and book your tickets here 


Bradford Literary Festival – a celebration of voices from diverse cultures

Hailed as one of the most inspirational festivals in the UK, Bradford Literature Festival is the place to be from 29thJune – 8th July. With more than 400 speakers and 300 events packed into iconic venues across 10 days, the festival celebrates the written and spoken word in all its wonderful forms, from poetry to politics, comics to comedy. Every year BLF invite world-renowned authors, poets, musicians and artists to visit Bradford and share their expertise and passions with inclusive, diverse audiences. 

Among the many writers launching their newly published books are Why I am A Hindu by Shashi Tharoor, who also guest edited Litro’s Translating India issue, a part of our World Series instalments, The Business Plan for Peace by Dr Scilla Elworthy; Don’t Let My Past be Your Future by Harry Leslie Smith; My Mother is Not Your Mother by Margaret Hockney, and City of Sinners by Bradford’s own A. A. Dhand.

Being the “young” festival that the Bradford Literature Festival is amidst a foliage of established ones, it has the luxury to break free from the shackles of “traditional” festival programming and celebrate literature in all forms including but not limited to films, theatre and music.

Nadeem Abbas
Sufiana Kalaam Concert

While some events at the festival will explore some of the key influences of Bradford-born artist David Hockney and launch of Margaret Hockney’s compelling memoir My Mother is Not Your Mother, others like “Songbook” -now an annual event at BLF that celebrates the lyrics and influences of a major songwriter-will discuss the female base player, Suzi Quatro’s influences as a ground breaking musician. In her own words, she “played the boys at their own game” and emerged as an icon in a highly competitive industry.

The festival will also host discussions on world affairs and politics revolving around the media’s role in fuelling Islamophobia, Europe’s love affair with the far-right and a satirical exploration of Jeremy Corbyn’s superhero persona in The Corbyn Comic Book. Major political anniversaries will also be remembered as the festival marks the centenary of the start of women’s suffrage in Britain, and of the First World War’s Armistice; 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King and much more.


In an age where borders are merging, the literary event will also include scientific explorations of gene therapy in the context of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as well as conversations between leading crime fiction writers.

Bradford being a long standing hub of diversity and culture aspires to encourage people from across the world to engage with the heritage and landscape of Bradford. Further, to champion youth’s engagement within the literary scene the festival, this year, has joined forces with the Hay Festival to launch a new pupil exchange programme where 10 students from Bradford will attend 2 days of the Hay Festival and 10 students from rom Powys and Herefordshire will attend Bradford Literature Festival in June. Additionally their new Festival Takeover initiative will offer a group of students aged 16-17 the chance to curate and manage their own session to feature on the official festival programme.

Syima Aslam, director of Bradford Literature Festival, said, 

“The festival seeks to break down these artificial barriers, by creating a space where ideas and stories can lead to mutual understanding, reminding us that it is our shared humanity that is the common denominator.”

True to its spirit, The Bradford Literary Festival is not afraid to throw in  a mix of dynamic artists together who arise from a plethora of vibrantly diverse cultures. It will witness the likes of Kashmiri Nobel Peace Prize nominee Parveena Ahanger, David Starkey, Jeanette Winterson, Robin Ince, Elif Shafak, Ben Okri, Suzi Quatro, Akala, Frank Bruno, Nimco Ali, Dennis Skinner, David Starkey, Terry Deary, Kei Miller and Joanna Hoffman.

The festival offers a delightful list of events ranging from an evening of comedy, workshops on Manga drawing, writing gothic fiction, comic strip lanterns to Out-spoken, an event that will kickstart the festival with poetry and music.

Other highlights of the 2018 festival include former heavy weight champion Frank Bruno, 70’s rock icon Suzi Quatro and Mobo award-winning hip-hop artist Akala alongside a host of literary names like Jeanette Winterson, Ben Okri, Jackie Kay and Don Paterson and politicians such as Shashi Tharoor, Dennis Skinner and Nimco Ali. The festival’s Free Family Fun Days will also return to Bradford’s City Park, with themes now confirmed as Superheroes, Outer Space, Under the Sea and Harry Potter.

Syima Aslam commented,

“This year’s programme exemplifies the festival ethos of reflecting society as a whole, giving a platform to artists from an extraordinary range of backgrounds, nations, cultures, and perspectives. The Festival is especially proud to bring to the fore marginalised voices who offer audiences the opportunity to understand our world in new, and unexpected, ways.”