Arts Council of Northern Ireland

The Funding and Development Agency
for The Arts in Northern Ireland

028 9262 3555

Latest News
Browse Archive

Save the Date! First list of speakers announced as the ‘Greatest Literary Show’ returns to Belfast

Thursday 12th March 2020 at 3pm 0 Comments Literature

Pictured (L-R) is Noirin McKinney, Arts Council, Sanjoy Roy, Teamwork Arts, Jimmy Fay, Lyric Theatre and Colette Norwood, British Council NI. Image: Pictured (L-R) is Noirin McKinney, Arts Council, Sanjoy Roy, Teamwork Arts, Jimmy Fay, Lyric Theatre and Colette Norwood, British Council NI.

JLF Belfast returns from 12-14 June 2020

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, in partnership with British Council Northern Ireland, the Lyric Theatre and Teamwork Arts, the producers of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival in India, have unveiled plans for JLF Belfast 2020 – an international celebration of arts, culture, books and discourse.  World-class writers, Jonathan Coe, Lisa McInerney, A.L Kennedy and Shashi Tharoor, are the first speakers to be announced for this year’s festival, with a full programme to be revealed soon.

Following on from a hugely successful festival in 2019, which attracted over 1200 people, JLF Belfast will take place at the Lyric Theatre from 12th-14th June.   In the true spirit of the original festival, JLF Belfast will feature panel discussions, readings and debates with acclaimed writers and cultural thinkers from India, Ireland, the UK and beyond, in a unique literature festival celebrating a joint love of books, creativity, music, and sharing each other’s stories. Themes under discussion for 2020 will include mythology, science, climate change, environment, identity, wellbeing, music and gender, among others. 

Early bird tickets are now available, with the first 200 tickets free, but guests must register at the Lyric Theatre Box Office to secure their place.

This is the second year that Belfast has been chosen as one of a handful of international cities to host local editions of the Jaipur Literature Festival, the biggest and most spectacular literary festival in the world.  Other editions have taken place in New York, London, Houston, Adelaide, Toronto and more. 

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council, commented:

“It is with great pleasure that we can announce today that the prestigious Jaipur Literature Festival will be returning to Belfast.  We were overwhelmed by the success of last year’s event, which celebrated our links with India and our shared love of conversation, literature and debate.

“Working with our partners, this fantastic festival will be a platform for creating, sharing and promoting the creative arts and will deepen our partnership with key Indian cultural institutions. We very much look forward to welcoming international writers and audiences to JLF Belfast this June and sharing our famous Northern Ireland hospitality.”

Namita Gokhale, Author and Festival Director said,

"I am looking forward to JLF Belfast 2020 with deep excitement. The unparalleled passion and infectious energy of contemporary Irish writing is inspirational. The wonderful writers who will be joining us from around the world, and the engaged audiences at the beautiful Lyric Theatre, by the banks of the Lagan River, will help bring the magic of JLF to our Belfast edition."

Sanjoy Roy, Festival Producer and Managing Director of Teamwork Arts said,

"JLF Belfast 2019 brought together great writers and thinkers from across the world to debate, discuss and disagree! We look to continuing our conversations around identity, climate emergency, building walls, and many more themes through literature and poetry which will hopefully illuminate us all in the halls of the Lyric theatre.”

Jonathan Stewart, British Council, Director Northern Ireland, commented: 

“British Council is honoured to be working with our colleagues at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival and Lyric Theatre, to deepen the existing literature connections that we have with India, to welcome authors from India to Northern Ireland and to share Indian writing and publishing with our audiences at JLF Belfast in 2020.”

“Building inbound and outbound exchanges and opportunities between Northern Ireland and other countries, including India, is a key focus of the British Council’s work and the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival is already a key platform for Northern Ireland writers working internationally.”

Jimmy Fay, Executive Producer and Artistic Director, Lyric Theatre, added,

“The Lyric is delighted to welcome back JLF for a second year of sparkling debate, intriguing talks and a wonderful broad and diverse platform of speakers and writers. There is a long history of a vibrant Indian community in Belfast and this festival helps highlight the rich cultural connections between our countries and our neighbours.”

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival takes place in India annually and has been described as ‘the greatest literary show on Earth’. Over the last twelve years, its size and reputation have grown exponentially and it is now considered one of the most important events of its kind across the globe, bringing together a diverse mix of the world’s greatest writers, thinkers, humanitarians, politicians, business leaders, sports-persons and entertainers on one stage to engage in thoughtful dialogue and debate.

The full JLF Belfast programme of speakers will be revealed soon, keep up to date at

The first 200 tickets for JLF Belfast are free and £5 for each day thereafter.  Registration is essential.  To register for your free place or to buy tickets visit


Comments (0)

Add Your Comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.