POET Laureate Simon Armitage launches Ilkley Literature Festival tomorrow.

Armitage is a long standing friend and creative collaborator of Ilkley. He will be opening the 2019 festival with a reading of poems from his new collection, Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic, which features some of the hundreds of poems he has written for various projects, commissions, collaborations and events.

The event is at the King’s Hall on the evening of Friday, October 4. Then across 17 days in October authors from the worlds of literature, science, journalism, philosophy, poetry, politics and stage and screen will descend on the town.

Big names include David Suchet, Prue Leith, the Booker-longlisted authors Oyinkan Braithwaite and John Lanchester and Clare Balding, who headlines the Children’s Festival alongside Mr Gum creator, Andy Stanton, and Conn Iggulden with the return of the Dangerous Book for Boys.

Renowned for its poetry, this year the festival features Pam Ayres, Raymond Antrobus and Lemn Sissay, with panels on Yeats and a strand focussing on ‘writing, rebellion and revolution’, with new commissions from 2019’s Poets in Residence: Colette Bryce, Genevieve Carver and Shash Trevett. Gyles Brandreth will also celebrate his passion for the best-loved poems in the English language with his new book, Dancing by the Light of the Moon.

Politics is on the agenda with Alastair Campbell, Chris Mullin, and the Executive Director of campaigning website, Change.org, Kajal Odedra. Steve Richards presents his new book, The Prime Ministers, and the Guardian’s investigative journalist Amelia Gentleman talks to historian Colin Grant about the Windrush betrayal.

Other notable journalists include BBC broadcaster and musician Mark Radcliffe, Kirsty Wark on her latest novel, Penny Junor, editor of GQ Dylan Jones, Martin Sixsmith, and Paul Mason.

With a focus on science and space in the anniversary year of the Moon landing, there’s a stargazing walk on the iconic Ilkley Moor. Science writer Oliver Morton explores our relationship with the Moon. Science journalist Angela Saini discusses race science in her book Superior, and Nessa Carey explores gene modification. Crime writers Peter Robinson and Denise Mina also feature, as do authors Sadie Jones, Tim Lott, Janet Ellis, and philosopher AC Grayling.

There festival also features a Fringe, bespoke film screenings, and workshops for poets, writers and readers. Full programme: ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk; Box Office: 01943 816714. Follow @ilkleylitfest