Swindon's Festival of Literature is celebrating its 30th anniversary this week.

The annual fixture in Swindon's cultural calendar has gone from strength to strength since it was first held three decades ago, and ended up broadening its audience internationally when the pandemic forced events to be broadcast online rather than held in-person.

Over the years, it has welcomed esteemed guests such as Tony Benn, Melvyn Bragg, Ken Livingstone, Clare Balding, Esther Rantzen, Harriet Harman, Pam Ayres, Michael Rosen, Jasper Fforde, Judy Murray, and Kate Adie.

A week of fun activities, fascinating Q&A discussions, and entertaining author talks will be taking place at venues around the town from May 1 to 7.

Organiser Matt Holland said: "This has been a long journey. I'm very pleased and grateful.

"Never mind the naysayers who initially said 'we admire your enthusiasm but literature is too long a word for Swindon'. Swindonians proved them wrong.

"It's quite a strange feeling because you start something and do it again and again and think it's going alright, then suddenly 30 years have passed.

"I'm doing something I love and think is important and is great to have in Swindon. It still has that same frisson of excitement when I see people at the launch each year.

"I spend nine months preparing everything, feeling anxious and stressful, but it's worth it.

"The festival is a civilised way of exchanging ideas where people can be listened to, questioned, and challenged in a respectful way."

The announcement of the 2023 line-up faced unexpected controversy when some regular attendees threatened to boycott the entire festival due to the booking of broadcaster and House of Lords peer Claire Fox, who will discuss her book I Find That Offensive at the Swindon Arts Centre next week.

In response to this, Mr Holland encouraged people to come along, listen to differing views, and make their points in person.

The rest of the lineup includes the traditional Dawn Chorus at Lawn Woods, family-friendly fun in Lower Shaw Farm, poetry and writing workshops, and a finale full of song and dance,

There will be talks on books about travellers, free speech, nature, wonder, James Bond and The Beatles, cycling through South America, growing up as a socialist in Swindon in the 1980s, survivalist tips from Ray Mears, and comedian Rachel Parris on advice from strangers.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.swindonfestivalofliterature.co.uk