Budding bookworms celebrate World Book Day in Merthyr Tydfil

A festival which began four years ago with a couple of hundred children and one church has now grown into one of the biggest World Book Day events.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams will open the ‘Spread the Word Literature Festival’ at St David’s Church, Merthyr Tydfil, tomorrow, March 2, at 10am.

Hosted by the Stephens and George Charitable Trust, this year the festival will be held in even more venues within the town centre, with entertainment for children of all ages including stilt walkers, jugglers, crazy golf, giant chess boards and games, fairground rides, falconry, human statues and lots more.

Every year the Festival is themed on a famous author or book. This year the theme is Harry Potter and with support from the community service woodwork department in Cardiff, it will have magical Harry Potter props including 10ft broom sticks and a Hogwarts Castle which the team have been creating for months to bring the festival to life.

There are over 200 workshops at the event, and authors, illustrators, actors and performers arriving  from all over the UK to participate. Amongst them will be Tony De Saulles who illustrates the Award winning series Horrible Science. Dan Anthony who has worked as a scriptwriter on CBBC’s Story of Tracy Beaker and S4C’s The Baaas and as well writing the successful Rugby Zombie books for young readers.

Techniquest will bring the magic of Harry Potter to the festival through spell making sessions and ITV Wales journalist Hannah Thomas will be talking about her career and life as a journalist. Henning Lohlein, award winning illustrator and writer is running workshops.

Over 2,500 children will be taking part in the event dressed as characters from the Harry Potter books. The day will start with around 1,500 children parading through the town centre of Merthyr Tydfil. Music Workshops have been held prior to the event funded by The Big Music Project through Youth Cymru and run by Aber Arts. Young people have learnt to play instruments such as ukulele’s and recorders to enhance the Festival through music.

Helen Hughes the charity’s  co-ordinator said, “The event is part of the Stephens and George Charitable Trust’s aim to empower young people through literacy. Without good reading and writing skills young people will have limited life chances. At the event, each year we bring the magical world of books alive to enthuse and educate young people.”

The Revd Mark Prevett of St David’s Church, Merthyr Tydfil said, “We are delighted to take part in this fantastic community event which has grown hugely in size over the years.”

The event is free of charge to attend and runs from 9am until 3pm on World Book Day. Further information can be obtained from helen.hughes@stephensandgeorge.co.uk 01685 375331