The Festival returns from Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th October

Set against the backdrop of one of the country’s greatest palaces, the UK’s leading boutique literary festival returns this year with a full programme of events over four days, boasting such speakers as:

·      Alexander McCall Smith

·      AC Grayling

·      Alistair Darling

·      Philip Mould

·      Henry Blofeld

·      Tatiana de Rosnay


·      Bettany Hughes

·      Peter Snow

·      Nicholas Parsons

·      Erica Wagner

·      Melvyn Bragg

·      Muir Gray



Blenheim Palace Park

Opening the festival on Thursday 12th October will be the world-famous Oxford New College choir performing a selection of works by Monteverdi. Preceding the concert, Vatican historian and priest, Father Michael Collins will give short talk on Monteverdi.

This year’s festival also offers a special day of events on Saturday to mark the 150th anniversary of Harper’s Bazaar magazine. Editor-in-Chief, Justine Picardie will be speaking about Coco Chanel and there will be a beauty panel with authors Alyson Walsh and Abigail James and beauty editors Katy Young and Sian Ranscombe.

One of the most prolific and popular writers of modern times Alexander McCall Smith talks with broadcaster Sue Macgregor about the music and books that have influenced his life and career. McCall Smith will select some music to be played and some of his favourite passages.


The Green Goddess of BBC Breakfast Time Diana Moran joins forces with one of the country’s leading public health experts Sir Muir Gray to explain how to keep fit and healthy in later life.


Writer and broadcaster Baron Melvyn Bragg explains what drove William Tyndale to create an English translation of the Bible in 16th-century England and how his work brought about profound change in the world and continues to resonate today.


Split Second Productions returns to Blenheim with a ‘joyous and youthful’ production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.


Entertainer Nicholas Parsons takes his audience on a humorous and nostalgic journey through his long and eventful life with a version of his one-man comedy show.  Parsons sees the funny side of every situation as he highlights with superb and often hilarious observation those events that have shaped his career.


Commenting, Festival Director Sally Dunsmore said, “We look forward to welcoming festival-goers once again to the UK’s best boutique literary festival in the historic setting of Blenheim Palace.


“We have speakers on many of the big talking points of today from Brexit to globalisation and the banking crisis. Sport is well represented, and we expect retiring BBC cricket commentator Henry Blofeld’s talk on the final afternoon of the festival to be one of the hottest tickets.


“The art expert Philip Mould seems to be in the news every week as his BBC 1 programme Fake or Fortune? uncovers one new important art work after another, and we are delighted he will be with us to explain the challenges of buying works of art.”


Spilling out into the picturesque Cotswold town of Woodstock, the festival creates a convivial atmosphere all weekend throughout the historic hotels, inns, restaurants and cafes. The local secondary school, Marlborough School, also plays an active role in the festival and speakers make special trips to address the sixth form students. This year Sally Bayley will be talking to them about the Private Life of the Diary from Pepys to Tweets and Aljos Farjon, author of Ancient Oaks in the English Landscape, will be showing students the ancient oak trees in Blenheim’s park and talking about their significance.

Students are also invited to take part in the Non-Fiction Essay Prize, in association with Oxford Brookes. The subject for this year is Rural England and the winner wins £200 with prizes for second and third place also awarded.



To keep up to date with all the latest details and speaker announcements please visit the website:


Tickets for the 2017 Festival are now on sale. Most tickets are priced £12 but there is a reduced price of £9.60 for Blenheim Palace annual pass holders.

Visit  for more information.


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