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INTERVIEW: How Lancaster Lore is telling new stories about the city's myths and legends

Mike Forde from Lancaster Lore

Imagine a world where there really are bears living in Bare, a badly behaved bin comes to life in Lancaster, and a mermaid can be seen swimming in Morecambe Bay...

Now you can create your own local myth and legend as part of the city's annual Litfest festival.

Mike Forde from Lancaster Lore is hosting a Myth Making workshop this Saturday (March 16) where people will be encouraged to let their imaginations run wild.

Their brand new stories can take inspiration from real snippets of local history or be completely made up!

And they will form part of a story trail around the city, as Lancaster Lore aims to bring these hidden tales to as many people as possible.

The workshop at the Storey Centre starts at 2pm and is open to everyone.

Primary school teacher Mike has been speaking to Beyond Radio about some of his favourite local myths, including The Mermaid of Morecambe Bay, the Badly Behaved Bin of Ridge Lane, and the Bears of Bare!

LISTEN to our interview with Mike

The annual Litfest literature festival runs from March 15 to 25 with a packed programme of author events, stimulating discussions, fun activities and opportunities for participation.

The theme of the festival is ‘Connected Histories’, exploring the ways in which our lives, countries and industries are shaped by the conflicts and innovations of the past.

Litfest will again offer a flexible hybrid format (events available to attend in-person or view online) and tickets will once again be free/pay what you can (with a recommended price of £5 per event).

Events will include the inaugural Lancaster History Lecture, as Litfest, together with Lancaster University, welcomes Sathnam Sanghera, drawing on his new book Empireworld to discuss the legacies of the British Empire.

Josephine Quinn will explore How the World Made the West (rather than the other way round) and David Kynaston introduces his insights into the seismic changes that took place in Britain during the mid-Sixties with his latest book A Northern Wind.

This was a time when the Cuban Missile Crisis threatened nuclear disaster, Lake Windermere froze over in the Big Freeze, The Beatles burst onto the music scene and Huyton MP Harold Wilson became PM.

The Big Read is back and Litfest is very excited to be working with S.F. Said.

His atmospheric prize-winning story Tyger is the choice for readers of all ages, but especially 8–12-year-olds. This alluring tale explores friendship, loyalty and bravery as two children must save the mythical tyger on whose survival the fate of their world rests.

Lancaster University creative writing tutor Oliver K. Langmead will launch his new novel, Calypso, an evocative story of intergalactic colonisation.

Okechukwu Nzelu, in Here Again Now, tells a poignant tale of broken family ties.

And poet Andrew McMillan, also with strong Lancaster connections, launches his first novel, Pity.

The Litfest Exhibition returns with a new commission by and a major retrospective from local textile artist James Fox, and contributions from The Sewing Café Lancaster and Lancaster Black History Group.

Plus, there will again be opportunities for everyone to get involved – with an expanded Northwest Landscape and Wildlife Photography Exhibition, alongside a wide offering of workshops, open mics, public call-outs, discussions, and guided walks.

Writers in Residence this year include reader Sophie Anderson, naturalist Mark Cocker, philosopher A.C. Grayling and poet Hannah Lowe – who will MC a public poetry reading on the theme of ‘Histories’.

The ever-popular Poetry Weekend will feature a packed programme including 2023 King’s Poetry Medal winner Mimi Khalvati.

There are many more exciting events exploring fiction, illustration, nature, poetry, history, ideas, storytelling, and children’s books on offer at this year’s fantastic festival.

More information can be found at litfest.org


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