Organisers are putting the final touches to the first ever Wrexham literary festival.

Among the star attractions at the Carnival of Words are rugby legend Gareth Thomas and former Home Secretary and best-selling author Alan Johnson – not to mention a murder mystery and a session on TV sci fi show Dr Who.

The event is being supported by the town’s Eagles Meadow shopping centre where the festival will be having a pop up shop to promote the week-long festival which is on from April April 28.

The temporary shop will open on April 10 during the run-up to the festival and will host a series of free events.

Shoppers will be able to add their own lines to a “street poem” and then watch it expertly performed back at the shop.

Visitors will also be able to hear their own favourite piece of verse read out by a guest poet or to listen to a top author spinning what he promises will be tales stranger than fiction.

A group of literary figures, including writers and poets, have teamed up with Wrexham Council’s library service and Glyndwr University to launch the inaugural Carnival of Words, which will see live performances and guest appearances at a number of venues throughout the Wrexham area, including Eagles Meadow.

Gareth Thomas will lead a question and answer session about his experiences as the first openly gay rugby player while other highlights will include former Home Secretary Alan Johnson and authors who’ve written books about the smash-hit BBC sci-fi show Dr Who.

There will also be a special bus tour around the Wrexham area which will stop off at various landmarks connected with great literary figures from the past, including iconic Victorian novelist H G Wells who penned his masterpiece The Time Machine while teaching at the former Holt Academy.

Helping to mastermind the pioneering event is Wrexham-based historical fiction writer David McCall who under the pen name David Ebsworth has written a series of novels on topics from the Zulu War to Jacobite intrigue in the 18th century.

He said: “The aim of organising the first ever Carnival of Words has been to come up with an inclusive series of events for anyone who has a passion for books and writing.

“That means we’ve arranged something which is bound to interest people of all ages and backgrounds from Wrexham and further afield.

“Apart from what’s planned at the Eagles Meadow pop-up shop, we have a range of events at venues across the town including Wrexham Library, the Catrin Finch Centre and the library at Glyndwr University, Wrexham Memorial Hall, the Saith Seren Welsh pub, Gwersyllt Community Resource Centre and Wrexham Rugby Club.

“The Carnival of Words grew out of initial discussions our committee had with Dylan Hughes, Wrexham Council’s libraries officer, about coming up with a way of celebrating authors, local and otherwise, and we believe this event will be the perfect way to do that.

“We are also in partnership with Glyndwr University, to which we are grateful for providing some of the larger venues for the carnival, and the management at Eagles Meadow whom we have to thank for the magnificent gesture of providing us with a temporary pop-up shop for the week in a location which is bound to bring in a large number of people to take part in and enjoy what we will be doing.

“I’m sending out a warm invitation to anyone who loves books and writing to come and join us at some point that week.”

David added: “The Eagles Meadow shop will be open from 11am-3pm on Friday April 10, Saturday April 11, Monday April 13 and then Friday April 17, Saturday April 18, Monday April 20 and Friday April 24.

“I’ll be there on all of those days, from 1-3pm, as author in residence telling tales stranger than fiction, discussing with the people their favourite periods from history and Wrexham’s links to my own favourite topics such as Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Jacobites, the Zulu War and the Battle of Waterloo which has its 200th anniversary this year.”

At the Eagles Meadow shop on the same days as David, from 12.15pm, will be another Carnival of Words committee member Peter Read.

A celebrated Wrexham-based poet, playwright and ghost-writer, he has helped pen autobiographies of football big names including Dixie McNeil of Wrexham FC, Swansea manager Garry Monk and Everton boss Roberto Martinez.

Peter said: “We came up with the idea of organising the Carnival of Words because it seemed to us that in Wrexham there was very little being done to take writing and writers out to the public and we’re very excited about the programme we have put together with the help of Eagles Meadow, Wrexham libraries and Glyndwr University.

“We think there’s something to interest all ages and interests.

“I’ll be at the Eagles Meadow pop-up shop every day it is open as the poet in residence and will be inviting people calling in to select a poem which will then be read out by one of our visiting poets, including Tim Humphrey Jones, David Sabacci, Aled Lewis Evans and Rona Campbell.

“I’ve done quite a lot of work down in South Wales with something called street poems, which means a poet pens the first lines of the piece and then goes out into the street to invite passers-by to come up with the next lines.

“I’ll be going out into Eagles Meadow to ask shoppers to join in with something similar and the finished work will be read out on April 24 by one of our visiting poets.

“On one of the days we’ll also have a visit from children’s storyteller Jude Lennon who’ll be sharing some myths and legends of Wrexham with the help of her puppet, Lamby.”

Peter added: “We’ll be starting off the carnival on Saturday April 18 with a literary bus tour, which leaves from outside Wrexham Library at 10am and lasts until 1pm.

“Along the route the bus will call off at Hightown Barracks, which has a strong association with First World War author Robert Graves who served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers regiment which was based there, the former Holt Academy where H G Wells was teaching when he wrote his famous novel The Time Machine, Hamner, which has links with Whitbread Literary Prize winner Lorna Sage, and Bangor on Dee which was the setting for a poem by Sir Walter Scott on the slaughter of monks in medieval times.”

Eagles Meadow centre manager Kevin Critchley said: “We are delighted to help host Wrexham’s first ever Carnival of Words.

“As a keen reader myself I’m pleased to do all I can to encourage a love of books and the written word.

“There’s a very varied programme not just at Eagles Meadow but at venues across Wrexham and I’d urge as many people as possible to get involved in this fantastic event.”

Another Carnival of Words committee member, Susan Miller, said: “We are very grateful to Eagles Meadow for allowing us to use the pop-up shop, which will enable the carnival to get right into the heart of the community of Wrexham.

“Eagles Meadow has a tremendous footfall which should help us attract lots of people of all ages who are interested in books and writing.”


April 18, 10am-2pm: Literary Bus Tour leaves from Wrexham Library to visit sites in and around Wrexham.

April 18, 7-10pm: An evening with Gareth Thomas, Q&A and book signing, Catrin Finch Centre, Glyndwr University.

April 20, 7-10pm: Dinner with Secret Millionaire, author and property developer Kevin Green, who is launching his first book at Wrexham Rugby Club.

April 21: Closed event for Wrexham schools – with children’s author S F Said.

April 21, 12.30-1.15pm: Poetry book launch and reading with Liz Lefroy, Glyndwr University library.

April 21, 7.30pm: Poems & Pints, reminisce with the locals on 150 years of Wrexham FC, Saith Seren, Wrexham town centre.

April 22, from 7pm: Panel discussion with the Murder Squad, authors from the Crime Writers’ Association, Wrexham Library.

April 22, 7pm former Home Secretary Alan Johnson at Gwersyllt Community Resource Centre

April 23, 2-5pm: Writers’ workshops for budding authors, Wrexham Library.

April 23, 5pm – 6.30pm: Local author networking event

April 23, 7-9pm: World Book Night, welcome by Welsh Assembly Member Ken Skates, children’s story writing competition winners, World Book Night giveaway and guest speaker, Wrexham Library.

April 25, 11am-2pm: Whovian Happenings, family event for fans of Dr Who with  writers Justin Richards and Mark Wright, Catrin Finch Centre, Glyndwr University.

April 25, 2.30-6pm: From Romans to Redcoats, popular historical novelists describe their passion for the past and lead light-hearted discussions with the audience, Catrin Finch Centre, Glyndwr University.

April 28, from 7pm: Dirgelwch a Llofruddiaeth, a murder mystery in Welsh, Rhos Library.

Activities at pop up shop at Eagles Meadow

The shop will have displays of books relevant to the Festival, but no sales will take place. We will have programmes, posters and information.

Friday, April 10

12:15 to 1pm – Poetry with Tim Humphreys and Un Deg Un writers

1:15 – 3pm – Historical Fiction segment

Saturday, April 11

11am to 12pm – Wrexham Myths with children’s storyteller Jude Lennon

12:15 – 1pm – Poetry with David Sabacci and Chester Poets

1:15 – 3pm – Historical Fiction segment

Monday, April 13

12:15 – 1pm – Poetry – Aled Lewis Evans with Wrexham Welsh writers – Bilingual event

1:15 – 3pm – Historical Fiction segment

Friday, April 17

11:00 to 12pm – Read Aloud Session organised by the Wrexham Library

12:15 – 1pm – Wordy Birdies – a talented female duo of performance poets

1:15 – 3pm – Historical Fiction segment

Saturday, April 18

12 – 1pm – TBC

1:15 – 3pm – Historical Fiction segment

Monday, April  20

12:15 – 1pm – Rona Campbell and Mold writers

1:15 – 3pm – Historical Fiction segment

Friday, April 24

12:15 – 1pm – Peter Read with Wrexham and Ellesmere writers’ groups and the first reading of the People’s Street Poem

1:15 – 3pm – Historical Fiction segment

For more information on the Carnival of Words or to be added to the mailing list for updates and notification of ticket sales, email: The event is also on Facebook at Wrexham Carnival of Words and Twitter @WrexCarnival #wrexwords. Contact: Debbie Williams or Ann Hughes at Wrexham Library on 01978 292090. Ticket booking through Eventbrite: