Cumbria Crack

Borderlines Festival 2020 – Cancelled

Cumbria’s Borderlines book festival has announced the cancellation of its 2020 event because of the continuing uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The not-for-profit festival takes place annually in Carlisle in October, and 2020 would have been the seventh festival.

Last year more than 3,500 tickets were sold, with sell-out audiences enjoying talks and appearances from major national and international names including Alexander McCall Smith, Joanne Harris and Louise Minchin. As well as bringing big names to the city, at venues including the Crown & Mitre Hotel, Tullie House and the University of Cumbria, Borderlines prides itself on showcasing the best of local talent through its events and workshop programme for aspiring and established writers.

Anna Smalley, Borderlines Festival Chair, said: “We could not risk the health and safety of our festivalgoers, authors, committee members and volunteers by running the Festival at a time when social distancing and other precautions are still likely to be in place.

“As a not-for-profit festival, we rely on our 250-plus capacity sell-out events to subsidise the smaller events that showcase emerging talent, but with restrictions on mass gatherings likely to be in place for some time we could not guarantee the festival’s financial viability for 2020.”

Although the festival is not going ahead this year, the Borderlines team have announced that the festival’s annual Poetry and Photography competitions will still be going ahead.

Poetry Competition winner Ruth Quinn with poet Geraldine Green

The Poetry competition has been running since the Festival began in 2014 – last year over 150 people entered, showcasing the creativity of our county. 2019 saw the launch of the Festival’s Photography competition which was judged by award-winning photographer Ashely Cooper.

This year the theme for both competitions is ‘Hope’, as chosen by the Borderlines committee, whether that’s ‘Hope’ in the face of the challenges of 2020 or something else entirely. Borderlines welcomes all interpretations of this broad-ranging theme and looks forward to receiving creative and unique contributions from all participants. The winning entries of both competitions will be displayed in Tullie House Museum and Bookends in October.

Entrants can enter both competitions simultaneously, and some participants may wish to submit a piece of poetry based on their photograph, and vice versa.

The first prize for the poetry competition is £250. Book tokens of £50 and 2 x £25 will be awarded to three runners-up for highly commended poems.

The competition will be judged by award-winning poet Helen Mort. Helen has published two poetry collections with Chatto & Windus, Division Street and No Map Could Show Them. She won the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize for best first collection. Her novel Black Car Burning was published in 2019. She teaches creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and she is also the author of Lake District Trail Running (Vertebrate).

The first prize for the photography competition is £100, with two runners up prizes of £25. This year the competition will be judged by former Cumbria Life picture editor Phil Rigby, whose book, Portrait of Cumbria, won the Lakeland Book of the Year Award in 2018. The winner will also receive a signed copy of the book.

Entries can be submitted via the Borderlines website from Friday 26th June –

The fee to enter each competition is £5 and the last date for entries is September 6th.

The winners will be notified on October 3rd.

Anna Smalley said: “On behalf of the whole Borderlines Team – who work tirelessly and voluntarily all year round on the Festival – we want to thank all of our attendees, volunteer stewards, supporters, partners and sponsors for their ongoing support. We can’t wait to see you all again in 2021!”

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