CORKS will be popping as the 2017 Ilkley Literature Festival gets underway on Friday.

Alan Bennett will open the Festival with a special afternoon event from 2.30pm at King's Hall. The playwright, screenwriter, actor and author returns to the Festival for the first time since 2009 and when he will be talking about his most recent collection of diaries and essays, Keeping on Keeping On in the sold out event.

In celebration of the opening evening from 6.30pm event sponsors McCarthy & Stone will be hosting a Fizz and Canapes evening reception at The Winter Gardens for invited guests followed by an event with Stuart Maconie, bestselling writer, much loved broadcaster and journalist. He returns to the Festival with his book Long Road from Jarrow, A Journey Through Britain Then and Now, a funny, complex tale of Britain, then and now.

Rachel Feldberg, Director of Ilkley Literature Festival said: “It’s always amazing how quickly the Festival comes around, and this year we’ve got some really wonderful names kicking us off. We couldn’t be more thrilled that Alan Bennett, a true Yorkshire icon, will be opening the Festival for us; the atmosphere in the King’s Hall will be fantastic. Lots of events are selling fast, but there are still a few available for big names including Armando Iannucci and Victoria Derbyshire, so grab them while you can!”

Events in the first week of the Festival include:

• Award-winning Yorkshire-born novelist and screen writer Amanda Coe delves deep into the inner workings of families to explore childhood, class and life-changing events as she discusses her compelling new novel, Everything You Do Is Wrong. Monday, October 2, 8pm, Ilkley Playhouse.

• Brendan Cox - The tragic death of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox shook the nation and the Foundation set up in her memory inspired hundreds of communities, including Ilkley, to hold a ‘Great Get Together’. Now her husband Brendan Cox, who was a special advisor to Gordon Brown on international development, comes to the Festival to talk about his new book, a moving and passionate portrait of Jo and her life, both with her family and as an activist and MP. Thursday, October 5, King’s Hall, 7.30pm.

• Simon Armitage, award-winning poet, playwright, novelist, lyricist, broadcaster and Professor of Poetry at Oxford University and the University of Sheffield, reads from his powerful new collection The Unaccompanied, which documents a world on the brink, “giving voice to the people of Britain with a haunting grace”. Friday, October 6, King’s Hall, 7.30pm.

• Michael Rosen – So They Call You Pisher! Michael Rosen, one of the most popular contemporary poets, a renowned author of books for children including We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth, and former Children’s Laureate, brings his humorous, moving memoir of family to Ilkley. Monday, October 2, 7pm, King’s Hall.

• Women On Paper, Men In Khaki - Books played a key role in the First World War and writing by women, of all kinds, gives us a vital insight into women’s thoughts and feelings during the conflict. Three leading experts, Professor Alison Fell (University of Leeds), Dr Angela K Smith (University of Plymouth) and Dr Jane Potter (Oxford Brookes University) open up an inspiring discussion on gender and war writing. Saturday, September 30, 5.30pm, Playhouse.

• Children's Book Trail – Where's Wally? - Celebrate 30 years of looking for Wally as you help us finding in shop windows across Ilkley. Look out for the Trail window stickers to help you. All correct entries will be entered into a Prize Draw after the Festival. (Prize draw for under 12s only!). Saturday, September 30, 9am, collect trail at The Grove Bookshop.