The Stanfords festival — online and free

The Stanfords Travel Writers Festival, usually part of the annual Destinations show at Olympia in London, has gone digital this year. It starts today, and will run until February 4, with more than 20 talks free on the Stanfords website. All the books will be available to buy through the company, many of them signed by the authors. Speakers include Nicholas Crane, William Dalrymple, Raynor Winn, Jini Reddy, Gavin Francis, Helen Mort and Stephen Fabes (see previous post).

Stanfords has been a staunch supporter of travel writing through the Stanford Dolman prize and its own awards scheme, and the company’s central London shop — recently moved to a new location — has been a starting point for many a writer’s journey. Thanks to Covid restrictions, that shop was threatened with closure until an appeal online for donations. Vivien Godfrey, the company’s chairman and chief executive, said crowdfunding had proved more successful than anyone could have dreamt. “We said if we raised more than our target we would use the extra funds towards a few projects, including this digital version of our Stanfords Travel Writers Festival. As a thank-you to everyone, we are showing all the talks online for free.”

The awards scheme has had to be scaled back and there will be only three prizes this year: the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award, in association with the Authors’ Club; the Bradt New Travel Writer of the Year award; and the Edward Stanford ​award for an outstanding contribution to travel writing.

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