Tickets for the Emirates Festival of Literature are on sale – and new speakers confirmed

'Strictly Come Dancing' judge Darcey Bussell and radio DJ Tony Blackburn join the line-up

  Strictly Come Dancing launch 2018  Featuring: Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas, Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli Where: London, United Kingdom When: 27 Aug 2018 Credit: Lia Toby/
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Tickets for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which runs from March 1 to 9, have gone on sale – and a host of new speakers have been announced.

Ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell, women's rights campaigner Zainab Salbi, legendary radio DJ Tony Blackburn and women's leadership consultant Sally Helgesen are the latest names to be added to the line-up.

“The new names announced illustrate what a wide programme we have,” festival director Ahlam Bolooki said. “There really is something for everyone, from the light-hearted, amusing and entertaining, to gripping tales, insightful current affairs discussion and serious debate on what the future holds for us all.

“Many of the sessions are going to sell out quickly, so to avoid disappointment we advise everyone to get their tickets as soon as they can”.

Other speakers at the event

There are already more than 170 speakers, across four programmes, due to attend the festival, the Arab world's largest literary gathering. These include bestselling crime novelist Ian Rankin, Australian fashion designer Alannah Hill and author of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World Peter Frankopan.

Jane Hawking, former wife of physicist Stephen Hawking, and author of Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, has also been confirmed. She had to cancel her scheduled appearance at last year's festival at short notice after her former husband died on March 14. Her memoir was adapted for the Academy Award-nominated film The Theory of Everything.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09:  Jane Hawking attends the UK Premiere of "The Theory Of Everything" at Odeon Leicester Square on December 9, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
Jane Hawking attends the UK Premiere of The Theory Of Everything in 2014. Courtesy: Getty Images

There is an extensive children's programme, too, featuring Tony De Saulles, illustrator of the Horrible Science series; Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series; Chitra Soundar, author of the charming stories A Dollop of Ghee and You're Safe With Me; and Emirati children's authors Asma Kalban and Maitha Al Khayat.

Ticket prices vary but start at around Dh50, while there are discounts of up to 25 per cent available if you purchase a Festival Pass.

For more information, the full line-up and to buy tickets, visit


Read more:

Full programme of speakers for Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2019: Ian Rankin, Jane Hawking, Tony De Saulles and more

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