The Suffolk Festival of Ideas 2016 will take place between October 7 and October 8 in and around Bury St Edmunds. The festival will include mass participation events and performances from nationally acclaimed writers, poets, musicians and visual artists.

The two day festival, is themed on stories and includes appearances from Brigitte Aphrodite, Jemima Foxtrot, Martin Newell and the Hosepipe Band, Ross Sutherland and Luke Wright.

In addition a large part of the festival will be given over to the sharing of stories from the communities of Bury St Edmunds. The festival’s writer-in-residence Molly Naylor will be holding free workshops for non-performers over the two days to build confidence and learn how to tell their stories. A public performance of the community’s true stories will be held on the Saturday evening.

Other festival events will see the transformation of the double decker hide at Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Lackford Lakes reserve into a story shed, hosting some of the brightest names in creative and non-fictive writing – including Melissa Harrisson (At Hawthorn Time, Rain: Four Walks in English Weather) and Paul Evans (Field Notes from the Edge – a journey through Britain’s secret wilderness).

The free performances at Lackford Lakes will be accompanied by free writing workshops with Dr Evans and a chance to print a t-shirt with screen-printing artists Off the Press. A variety of other free workshops will take place throughout the weekend.

‘Bury St Edmunds is founded on stories and, whether it is the legend of St Edmund or more personal tales of family, migration, love and loss, it is the sharing of these stories that brings communities together and shapes our individual and collective identity,’ said Matt Gaw, one of the directors of Suffolk Festival of Ideas.

‘We really hope the festival will help reconnect and remind people of the importance of stories and increase their confidence in telling them. Our hope is that the festival might provide the inspiration for the creation of a true story-telling event that continues long after the weekend.’

Supported by the Arts Council England, all performances and workshops are free or heavily subsidised.

John Orna-Ornstein, Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: ‘Stories are truly wonderful. They can inform, entertain and sometimes even scare us. They can also take us to places that only our imaginations can conjure, from Tolkien’s Middle Earth to DC Comic’s infamous Gotham City. And so we are really pleased to support Suffolk Festival of Ideas’ Stories Festival. It will help introduce more people in Bury St Edmunds to the craft of storytelling, and empower them to write and tell their own.’

The launch also marked the distribution of 100 artist-made journals across shops, cafes and public spaces in Bury St Edmunds, giving people the chance to write, draw or photograph their story of Bury St Edmunds. There are still some journals available throughout the town at various public locations. If you would like to request a journal email sfoideas@gmail.com

The returned journals will be exhibited during the festival weekend.

For more information and how to book tickets visit www.suffolkfestivalofideas.co.uk