From 26 – 30 September 2012, North Down prepares to rub shoulders with the literati at the 21st Aspects Irish Literature Festival and to mark the occasion, Aspects have been given the keys to beautiful Bangor Abbey.

We are delighted that this year we will be hosting ‘Aspects at the Abbey’ and look forward to welcoming festival-goers to this beautiful historic church and its wonderful new Parish Hall complex.

Aspects is delighted to bring to Bangor a series of old friends and new faces, supplying the eclectic mix of poetry and prose for which the festival has become renowned and this year’s programme is jam- packed with something for everyone. A series of special events will be taking place in Bangor Abbey itself, including the opening evening in conversation with veteran broadcaster James Naughtie and a debate to mark the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant with historians Lord Paul Bew and Dr. John Bew.

Colin Reid’s musical arrangement of The Third Policeman, narrated by legendary actor Stephen Rea, will take on a particularly haunting ambiance in the venue. Closing the festival will be actor Dan Gordon, who will be presenting an evening of extracts from the scripts, stories and songs he has been involved with throughout his long career.

Glenn Patterson and Conor Brady will be talking about their recent historical fiction works, discussing the attractions of taking ‘a step back in time’, and the festival will be also celebrating the republication of writing from the past as we host the launch of the centenary edition of Padraic Gregory’s Collected Work. David Park and veteran poet Gerald Dawe will be reading from their new work and considering how writing about home from elsewhere puts a new perspective on Belfast.

Bernard MacLaverty, our Aspects Author in Residence, will be reflecting on his life and career as well as working throughout the week for the Young Aspects programme as one of our visiting authors to schools. We’re celebrating debut successes this year with a session featuring Kevin Barry and Kathleen McMahon, two emerging writers who having been taking the book world by storm in 2012.

Aspects also pays its own tribute to two of 2012’s big themes – the Diamond Jubilee and sport – by welcoming Lady Bangor, Sarah Bradford, the internationally acclaimed historian and royal biographer whose most recent book is an authoritative study of the present Queen, and the Guardian’s Chief Football Writer, Kevin McCarra. A new addition to the festival programme is our lunchtime session, ‘My Reading Life’, hosted by Fionola Meredith, which will welcome someone in the public eye to talk about their reading habits and the books that mean most to them.

Alongside Bernard MacLaverty, writer and illustrator Paul Howard will be visiting school children in North Down in the course of the Young Aspects festival. Our Young Aspects Showcase Event returns to present writing from young people of the Borough on the festival Main Stage, and this year we are delighted to welcome the Young Aspects headline guest Derek Landy, whose Skulduggery Pleasant series wows readers across the world.

Regular events also return such as Colin Bateman’s Crime Night, master classes with Leontia Flynn and Tim Loane, comedy from Owen O’Neill, Kenneth Irvine’s Literary walk, readings of new work by emerging Northern Irish authors at the Ava Vin Café, hosted by Malachi O’Doherty and the

Sunday debate, which this year focuses on the Leveson Enquiry and welcomes Conor Brady and Paul Tweed to start proceedings.

Author Bernard O’Donoghue has described the Aspects Irish Literature Festival as “one of the great gatherings”, so what are you waiting for? Head to Bangor in September and we’ll see you at the festival!

Tickets are available from the festival Box Office at North Down Museum (028 9127 1200) and from Bangor Tourist Information Office (028 9127 0069).