A FESTIVAL to celebrate Swindon's starring role in a series of novels is planned for next May.

The Fforde Ffiesta will return to the town over the spring Bank Holiday weekend at a secret venue, which is already booked but has not yet been revealed.

The event has been designed to give fans of Jasper Fforde's surreal vision of Swindon a chance to get together, although few details of next year's rendez-vous have been announced.

The last Fforde festival took place in and around Old Town and The Lawns in 2005, drawing about 200 fans from around the world to the town where the Thursday Next crime satire novels are found.

On Fforde's online fan site, it states: "The Fforde Fiesta has been confirmed for May 3 to 5 - May Day Bank Holiday 2008.

"We will be holding it at a new and very exciting venue in Swindon.

"More details will be announced in the near future, so feel free to bookmark this page.

"Please do not hesitate in contacting the Fforganisers for more information nearer the time."

An insider from the Ffiesta added: "Early reports from the Chronoguard indicate that next year's Ffiesta was a roaring success."

The 2005 festival saw "superhoop" matches on The Lawns, with much of the action centred on the Goddard Arms Hotel, which hosted a fancy dress night during the weekend, while Fforde himself also made an appearance to do an exclusive reading for fans.

It is not known if he will be attending the 2008 Ffiesta, but he will be in town during the same weekend for a signing of his latest book First Among Sequels at Waterstones, in the Brunel Plaza, from 2pm.

This is the fifth in his series of Thursday Next novels, which follow the female detective through the streets of a familiar, if somewhat removed from reality, version of Swindon.

Fforde lived here for 20 years and worked for a film company which produced the horseracing movie Champions.

His works, which have given the town an international reputation, have also led to roads in a section of the North Swindon development being named after some of his characters.