Get Ready for Wimbledon BookFest Sunset Festival!

London’s Leading Literacy Festival Wimbledon BookFest is Back (22 – 26 September 2022)

Fiona Razvi, Director of Wimbledon BookFest, said:

We feel pleased to have survived the difficult period of the pandemic by repurposing our model to open air summer festivals. But it’s wonderful to once again be able to bring schools back to New Wimbledon Theatre for a programme of inspiring events, as well as for the launch of this year’s Sunset Festival with Ai Weiwei for the public. In 2023, we hope to return to a 10-day autumn festival on Wimbledon Common, with events throughout the year with venue partners New Wimbledon Theatre and Wimbledon Library.

Nick Parr, Theatre Director at New Wimbledon Theatre, said:

Here at New Wimbledon Theatre, we are very proud of our partnership with Wimbledon BookFest.  Since 2018, our education events have brought thousands of young people into the theatre, each one seeing and hearing an amazing author on our stage and for many, experiencing a trip to the theatre for the first time.  We are delighted that after a very long break, we will be able to welcome hundreds more students into the theatre this September.

Ai Weiwei Presents his Memoir at New Wimbledon Theatre

Photo © Ai Weiwei Studio 

Ai Weiwei – one of the world’s most famous living artists and activists – will discuss his memoir 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrow at a special event on Sunday 11 September 2022 at 6pm presented by London’s leading literary festival Wimbledon BookFest in partnership with New Wimbledon Theatre. It will be the artist’s first public event linked to the paperback publication of this highly anticipated book.  

In 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrow, Ai Weiwei presents a remarkable 100-year history of China through the story of his own extraordinary life, including a childhood in exile, and his decision to leave his family for America, where he befriended Allan Ginsberg and was influenced by Andy Warhol. With candour and wit, he details his return to China and his rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar, and international human rights activist. 

For this special event, Ai Weiwei will be in conversation with broadcaster and Wimbledon BookFest Patron Samira Ahmed. As part of Wimbledon BookFest’s commitment to increasing access to cultural events, 100 tickets will be given free to local state school students of art and politics. 

Ai Weiwei’s appearance marks the launch of Sunset Festival (22 – 26 September), Wimbledon BookFest’s second multi-day festival of the year, featuring more than 40 talks, discussions and activities.

Ai Weiwei’s appearance is the first event in a renewed partnership between Wimbledon BookFest and New Wimbledon Theatre – a collaboration which began in 2018, but was paused for two years owing to the pandemic. Additionally, New Wimbledon Theatre will host a number of events for schools in September and October 2022.

Wimbledon BookFest Sunrise Festival Listings  


Sunday 11 September 2022, 6pm – 7.15pm 
New Wimbledon Theatre 93 The Broadway, London SW19 1QG 

  • Friends priority booking: Sat 20 August 2022, 10am 
  • On public sale: Tue 23 August 2022, 10am  
  • Book online at 


Thu 22 – Mon 26 September 2022 
Marquee Village, Wimbledon Common, London SW19 4UG  

  • Over 40 talks, readings and activities across five days in Wimbledon Bookfest’s much-loved marquee village. From politics to art, memoir to great fiction, there’s something for everyone.  
  • For full event listings, visit  


Thu 29 September 2022 

  • Noel Fitzpatrick  
  • Maggie Aderin-Pocock  
  • MG Leonard & Sam Sedgman   

Fri 30 September 2022 

  • Young Writers’ Prizegiving with David Almond   
  • Artichoke Hearts: From Page to Stage 

Wed 12 October 2022 

Tim Peake: The Cosmic Diary of Our Incredible Universe 

Sunset Festival Highlights

  • Kit de Waal – author of My Name is Leon (recently adapted for TV) and campaigner for increased working class representation in publishing – joins for a live recording of Always Take Notes podcast to discuss her writing and activism. 
  • Fresh from his research of latest novel Act of OblivionRobert Harris looks at the question of Britain as a monarchy versus republic by examining the 10-year interregnum period that followed the regicide of Charles I. 
  • Historical fiction writers Kiran Millwood Hargrave & Jess Kidd discuss their elegant fictional interpretations of history.   
  • Former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten shares his first hand experience of the British handove and his thoughts on future relations with China. 
  • William Dalrymple, the multi award-winning author and historian, shares the remarkable story of the rise and fall of the East India Company in his new book, The Company Quartet. 
  • Award-winning journalist and broadcaster Kavita Puri joins us to discuss the personal stories of the Partition of India, 75 years on.  
  • Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Max Hastings returns to BookFest to discuss his new book Abyss. 
  • British-French lawyer Philippe Sands takes us on an unsettling journey across international law, illuminating horrors of colonial rule, and the impact of Britain’s grip on its last African colony. 
  • Much loved actor Sheila Hancock discusses her memoir Old Rage in a gloriously irreverent event. Funny, feisty, and honest, Hancock makes for brilliant company as she reflects on her life and looks at a world so different from the wartime period of her childhood.   
  • Broadcaster and champion of the arts Melvyn Bragg look backs at the upbringing that shaped him in his memoir Back in the Day. (This event has been rescheduled from Sunrise Festival in June 2022.) 
Current Affairs:  
  • Former BBC Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen joins us for an illuminating conversation about the modern Middle East. 
  • Journalist Sam McAlister, the woman who brought Prince Andrew’s infamous 2019 interview to our screens, sheds light on unforgettable journalism of our times. 
  • One of Prospect Magazine’s 2022 World’s Top Thinkers, author and academic Lea Ypi shares her coming of age story, and explores the meaning of freedom in the personal, collective and political sense. 
  • Broadcaster Mariella Frostrup and health journalist Alice Smellie enlighten and inform with all you need to know about the menopause – delivered with a generous side order of humour.  
  • Oz Clarke, one of the world’s leading wine experts, hosts a talk and tasting of the best English wines to get quaffing. 
  • Meet the founders of award-winning Moorish restaurant Moro, husband and wife team Sam and Sam Clarke
The Arts:  
  • Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason shares her inspirational story of raising seven gifted classical musicians, interspersed with musical interludes from her children BraimahAminata and Konya Kanneh-Mason
  • Art historian, curator and broadcaster Katy Hessel shines a spotlight on women artists, and asks who makes art history? 
Comedy & Sport:  
  • Our popular Comedy Night returns on the Saturday – line up to be announced! 
  • BookFest Patron and rugby’s most entertaining storyteller Brian Moore returns with his popular Rugby Night featuring his former England team mate Martin Bayfield
Children’s Events:   
  • Author Peter Bently and illustrator John Bond present their humourous picture books Dogs in Disguise and Cats in Chaos  
  • Nick Butterworth, creator of the much loved Percy the Park Keeper series, hosts an interactive live drawing and storytelling event. 
  • Three hands-on workshops led by model makers from Aardman Studios offering the chance to create models of your favourite Aardman characters including Gromit, Morph and Shaun the Sheep. 
Participatory Activities:  
  • Guided walks include local historian Peter Walker who highlights Wimbledon’s radical socialist history on a guided walk; John Wright offers tips on how to successfully forage (and not get poisoned); and a night walk reflecting on the joys of travelling with writer and anthologist Duncan Minshall
  • Creative workshops include drawing nature with artist Dr Ali Foxton; insights into the acupressure technique of tapping with Poppy Delbridge; and illustration with Big Panda and Tiny Dragon creator James Norbury
Events for Schools:   
  • Michael Morpurgo who joins forces with the musical Kanneh-Mason family for Carnival of the Animals, an enthralling storytelling and live music event. 
  • Winner of the 2022 Blue Peter Award and Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, Hannah Gold talks about her magical polar adventure, Last Bear. 

Fiona Razvi, Wimbledon BookFest’s Director said: 

We’re delighted to be marking Wimbledon BookFest’s 15th anniversary as London’s leading literary festival with the second of our summer festivals this year. Bringing our audiences back is of paramount importance to us, and we are very much hoping such a strong line-up of authors and events will remind them of the joy of the collective live experience that literary festivals bring. Wimbledon BookFest’s Sunset Festival sees the return of some of our most loved nights including sport and comedy, as well as authors discussing the big issues of the day. We really do aim to provide events for everyone.

Wimbledon BookFest returns in 2022 thanks to support from Principal Partner University of Roehampton; Lead Sponsor Baillie Gifford; and the support of community sponsors and benefactors.  


For further information and to book your ticket(s) visit

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