It's lining up to be a vintage year for the Ledbury Poetry Festival, not least because the programme offers an engaging mix of literary stars and celebrities.

Big names include comedian and actor Alexei Sayle, the writer of the Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood, and the newly-appointed Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage.

Tickets for some events have already sold out in record time.

The Festival's artistic director, Chloe Garner said: "Tickets sales so far are up on where we were this point in 2018 - so it certainly looks as if we are heading towards a vintage year, which reflects the stellar line-up that assembles many of the greats of British poetry - Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Andrew Motion, Roger McGough, Owen Sheers, Fiona Sampson - alongside a fabulous array of poets including Margaret Atwood, Ishion Hutchinson, Ilya Kaminsky, Jay Bernard, Hannah Sullivan, Phoebe Power and recent National Poetry Competition winner, Wayne Holloway-Smith.

"We will also be announcing our own Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize winner on the opening night of the Festival."

Ms Garner added: "Tickets sold out in record time for Simon Armitage because he has just been announced as the new Poet Laureate. However we still have tickets for events with two former Laureates, Carol Ann Duffy and Andrew Motion. Carol Ann Duffy will read from Sincerity, which was her last collection published as Laureate and reflect on her time in the role. Andrew Motion will be chatting with a T.S. Eliot prize-winner and leading light of the next generation, Hannah Sullivan, so that will also be an exciting event.

"An evening with Eleanor Bron has also sold out, but there are still tickets for events with many of the stars of the Festival programme, including Alexei Sayle, Roger McGough, Owen Sheers, Ali Smith and Margaret Atwood. For Ledbury to welcome Margaret Atwood, in an intimate venue like the Community Hall, is a huge coup. Ordinarily she reads in 800 seat venues and you would most likely be sitting far away, watching her on a screen. Margaret Atwood’s events are completely unique to Ledbury – a rare reading of her own poems and a conversation about her life though poetry. So I consider these to be two special and unmissable Ledbury Poetry Festival occasions – you will want to be able to say that you were there!"

Ledbury Poetry Festival takes place this year from July 5 to July 14.

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