Festival returns to celebrate the remarkable life of Anne Lister

Anne Lister portrait

The Anne Lister Birthday Festival is returning for 2024, with organisations across Calderdale hosting events to celebrate and remember the life and legacy of Shibden Hall’s most famous resident.

The famous landowner, entrepreneur, mountaineer, scholar, traveller, and lesbian, Anne Lister was born in Halifax on 3 April 1791. To celebrate what would have been Anne’s 233rd birthday, Calderdale Council is supporting a packed programme of events and activities from 1-8 April 2024, as part of the third annual Anne Lister Birthday Festival.

The 8-day-long festival includes events organised by many partners, bringing Anne’s story to life once more. People can walk in Anne’s footsteps, visiting her family home of Shibden Hall – including a rare opportunity to see the Library Tower, or take part in one of the many walks or talks taking place during the event.

The varied programme also includes markets; exhibitions (including the chance to see costumes from Gentleman Jack at Bankfield Museum); creative writing, dance, and craft workshops; bus tours; and the opportunity to visit Halifax Town Hall and the Calderdale Archives at the Halifax Central Library, where people can see Anne’s diaries up close.

Tickets for the festival are on sale now, with some events already sold out or with limited availability. Many of the events are free, but people are still encouraged to book a place to guarantee access. For the full programme, and for more information, including how to book tickets, go to: link)

The Council works closely with the wider Anne Lister community, and the festival also incorporates the Anne Lister Birthday Week (ALBW),(external link) and the Anne Lister Society’s academic conference.

The ALBW is a community-led series of events which started life in 2019 and is the brainchild of US-based Pat Esgate, who discovered Anne Lister’s story through Sally Wainwright’s BBC/HBO series, Gentleman Jack. The Anne Lister Society aims to foster knowledge of Lister’s extraordinary life and writings and to interpret her legacy and their conference will once again welcome academics from across the world to Calderdale.

This year’s festival is taking place just ahead of the official launch of the Calderdale Year of Culture, which takes place on Saturday 13 April 2024.  The Year of Culture will celebrate Calderdale’s 50th anniversary with a year-long programme of creativity and activity, showcasing Calderdale and bringing people together through arts, heritage, sports, and culture in all its forms. Find out more at link)

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Towns, Tourism and Voluntary Sector, Cllr Sarah Courtney, said:

“The Anne Lister Birthday Festival is back for 2024 and it’s already proving as popular as ever, both locally and further afield! In previous years, the festival has welcomed visitors from as far away as America and Australia, demonstrating the worldwide appeal of Anne Lister.

“Events as part of the festival are already selling out, but with such a packed programme including around 70 events, there’s still so much to experience, with something for everyone.”

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities, Cllr Jenny Lynn, said:

“As we celebrate LGBT+ History Month, we’re proudly promoting this year’s Anne Lister Birthday Festival. Her impact on LGBTQ+ history cannot be understated, and it’s wonderful that so many people have now discovered her story and her legacy, thanks in no small part to Sally Wainwright’s Gentleman Jack TV series.

“We’re delighted to be working with local organisations and the passionate and dedicated Anne Lister community to put together the huge programme of events for this year’s festival.

“The festival will also build up to the official launch of our Year of Culture, which will continue to develop the borough’s international profile as a place for culture, heritage, and diversity.”

Visit link), the home of all things Anne Lister, for more information and details of the festival.

For more information about LGBT+ History Month, visit link)