The Hexham Book Festival will return this spring with its annual literary celebration.

Having grown substantially since its debut in 2006, the festival forms an important part of the regional arts calender, attracting audiences from across Tynedale and beyond.

This year the festival will debut its first ever children’s festival, the Gillian Dickinson Children’s Book Festival, which will run alongside the main event in a specially-erected Spiegeltent, or travelling tent, on the Sele in Hexham.

The mini-festival, made possible through funding from the Gillian Dickinson Trust, aims to foster creativity in the young and will host events for schools, whilst also offering an exciting new programme of comedy, spoken word, cabaret and performance for families, co-programmed with Queen’s Hall Arts.

Festival director, Susie Troup, said: “We’re so excited for this new festival, which is something I’ve been hoping to do since the first Hexham Book Festival in 2006.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to programme a series of events for children and young people, in a venue which is flexible enough to allow imaginations to really take off.

“Through the week of the children’s festival, we’ll be inviting families and schools to draw, write, learn circus skills and listen to poetry, as well as meet some of their favourite authors.

“All events will be priced as low as possible or free whilst still ticketed, to encourage attendance from as many families as possible.”

The festival will kick off with a reading of David Greaves’ The Homesick Fox, from BBC Look North presenter Carol Malia, followed by a performance of Roald Dahl’s extraordinary stories, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the BFG, from theatre company Get Lost and Found for schools.

Roald Dahl and the Imagination Seekers will also be available to families.

David Almond will headline a special schools event, with writer and presenter Konnie Huq also participating. Other notable events include a circus skills workshop, with CircMotif and Hoopla Clique.

The Spiegeltent will play host to events for adults in the evenings, with the Funny Words Comedy Gala planned for the opening night, bringing together a line-up of six comedians.

The Confetti Cabaret, with Lord Maverick’s Wonder Emporium, will see comedy, circus acts and interactive performances descend on the Spiegeltent, whilst the Quiz of Thrones, a quiz dedicated to the cult TV series Games of Thrones, will also be available.

The festival, which runs reader development programmes throughout the year supported by the Northumberland County Council, will bring big names to the region, including Deborah Moggach, author of the best-selling The Best Marigold Hotel.

Audiences can expect talks from the likes of Chris Mullin, a former government minister and author, as well as Henry Hemming, a spy novelist.

There will also be an opportunity to get ahead of the crowd with authors Holly Miller, Hazel Barkworth and Janet Skeslian Charles, as they discuss their forthcoming books.

As part of the festival for young people, Arts Council England will also present work from Northumberland-based writers, Sarah Davy, Gwennie Frazer, Hilary Elder and Angela Readman – three of which are yet to be published.

The Gillian Dickinson Children’s Book Festival runs from April 24-30, whilst the main festival will tour venues across Hexham from April 24 to May 3.