Children’s literature festival set for second chapter in East Park

A children’s literature festival which was one of the highlights of Hull’s City of Culture year is ready to write a second chapter after securing new funding and a nomination for a major awards scheme.

Produced by Hull Libraries, The Big Malarkey will return to East Park in Hull from 20–24 June this year, with organisers now working hard to assemble a packed programme featuring some of the UK’s favourite children’s authors and illustrators in addition to poets, musicians, artists and other creative performers.

The aim is that the event will again attract thousands of children and their families and inspire them with five days of fun talks, shows and hands-on workshops. Organisers also hope this year’s edition will help to cement The Big Malarkey in Hull’s annual calendar of festivals, and they are buoyed by being shortlisted in the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards (REYTAs) for events with under 30,000 visitors.

The 2017 festival was funded with contributions from the James Reckitt Library Trust and Hull UK City of Culture 2017. The Trust pledged its support for another event in 2018 and now organisers have confirmed that the Arts Council has also approved a funding bid.

Michelle Alford, Director of Hull Libraries, said: “The confirmation from the Arts Council is fantastic news for all involved in The Big Malarkey Festival and especially for all the children, families and school staff who had such a wonderful time at the 2017 event and who learned so much. Short-listing for the REYTAs shows that we made a big impact, and we are now looking forward very much to the awards ceremony next month.

“We had been thinking for some time about how we could launch a children’s literature festival in Hull and the City of Culture year gave us the opportunity to make it happen. The phenomenal success of the event gave everyone the appetite for more, and the funding commitments will enable us to meet that demand.
“As a children’s literature festival we believe The Big Malarkey is unique in the UK. It combines the best of outdoor festival elements of informal, relaxed, hospitable, celebratory and quirky with a real commitment to a varied, accessible, high quality programme of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, storytelling, performance and illustration in all its forms.

“It encourages children to discover the new and rediscover the familiar, to read and interact with books and stories and create their own in whatever media they enjoy – and in doing so, it gives them and their families a satisfying, welcoming and memorable day out.”

The 2017 Big Malarkey attracted 7,800 people including 2,400 children from schools in Hull and included more than 100 individual events featuring such big names as Julian Clary, Jeremy Strong, Akala and Lydia Monks. Everybpdy who responded to feedback forms said they would attend The Big Malarkey again, and the interest also generated new members for the Hull Library Service and a rush of activity on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Lisa Fisher, a teacher at Thanet Primary School in Hull, said: “The experience of The Big Malarkey is invaluable in raising the aspirations of Hull children. A unique experience incorporating dance, drama, poetry, art, music and technology. Appealing to all ages, this unmissable event needs to be a date in everyone’s diary!”

Ellen Bianchini, the Festival Director, said: “The Big Malarkey is great fun but it also has some very serious messages in the background – it reinforces a culture of good literacy, curious minds, positive attitudes to learning – and lights the fuse of children’s imagination. We look forward to announcing some big-name guests for this year’s festival very soon.”

Cllr Terry Geraghty, Chair of Hull Culture and Leisure, added: “The library service is key to developing a literate, skilled and knowledgeable workforce, with services that range from business support to IT skills courses and lending every possible kind of book for every age. The Big Malarkey Festival is a big part of our children’s offer – a brilliant way of inspiring children to read for pleasure.”

For further information about Big Malarkey please visit