Cost of living-cancelled book festival returns

Book shelf
Keswick's Words by the Water festival was hit by rising costs and falling income [Leah Varnell]

A book festival, which was previously cancelled due to the cost of living crisis, has returned.

Organisers previously axed Words by the Water because of a "pincer movement" of escalating costs and declining ticket sales.

Director Leah Varnell said: "The 'phoenix rising' regeneration bit of this story is that it was the locals and the audiences that really put the momentum into getting this festival back."

The event is being held at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick and ends on Sunday.

Ms Varnell said she had been "inundated with many emails expressing deep sorrow" that the festival had been called off.

"In real life, people are having to make choices between paying their gas bill or buying a ticket for a festival. And so the gas bill comes first," she said.

"That's true of theatre, and gigs, and literary festivals, and all sorts of different things across the arts - that the audiences are having to make quite difficult decisions about how they spend their money."

Leah Varnell
Festival director Leah Varnell said she was "rolling the dice" bringing the festival back [Leah Varnell]

Ms Varnell said bringing the festival back was "uncharted territory".

She added: "I think things are easing a little bit for people, and we've reduced our prices. So I'm really hoping that people support this."

Organisers said: "The fallow period of the festival has shown all of us how much we need and value the arts and Words by the Water is delighted to be back in Cumbria in full capacity."

Ariel view of Keswick
Organisers say Keswick's setting is an "inspirational part of the world" [Getty Images]

Previous festivals had seen 13,000 visitors come to Keswick, according to festival chiefs.

People from New York, London and across Scotland have already travelled to the area for this year's event.

But Ms Varnell added: "We do focus quite heavily on Cumbrian and local talent as well, because we like to celebrate the area that we're in."

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