File photo of a previous edition of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Dubai’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has reported strong sales for special events ahead of its opening next month, organisers said on Monday.

The special events include sessions featuring David Walliams and Nadiya Hussain, as well as the celebration of Charles Dicken’s 210th birthday with his great-great-great granddaughter Lucinda Dickens Hawksley at ‘Miss Havisham’s Wedding’.

The festival will take place from February 3 to 13 at its new venue for 2022, the Habtoor City Hotels.

Children’s writer David Walliams will be bringing humour with his popular characters Mega Monster and Gangsta Granny for three events.

Also popular in ticket sales is ‘Great British Bake-Off’ winner Nadiya Hussain for Saturday Supper, with a menu inspired by the recipes in her latest books and TV series, Nadiya Bakes and Nadiya’s Fast Flavours. She will be speaking during a supper on February 5.

Nadiya Hussain Image Credit: Supplied

Omar Ghobash, Assistant Minister for Culture and Public Diplomacy at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, will be discussing his foray into fiction on February 3, as his latest book details a fictionalised account of the last 24 hours of his father’s life and the circumstances surrounding his death.

Omar Ghobash Image Credit: Supplied

Miss Havisham, the spinster from Dickens’ Great Expectations, is one of literature’s most memorable characters. This year the LitFest is paying tribute to Dickens’ women with a celebratory dinner on February 7 – the 210th anniversary of Dickens’ birth – and the great-great-great granddaughter of Charles Dickens, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, will be the special guest, bringing insight into the great man’s life and the women in his stories.

Alessandro Borghese, one of the most famous chefs and restaurateurs in Italy, will be at the Taste of Italy event on February 13 featuring recipes inspired by his latest book Cacio & Pepe, which combines his recipes with anecdotes from his life.

Poetry in focus

Expo 2020 Dubai on February 7 will feature award-winning poets Dr Afra Atiq and Colombian-American Carlos Andrés Gómez, accompanied by Brent Shuttleworth, a Nashville-based singer, as part of LitFest.

The Festival’s signature event, Desert Stanzas, returns on February 8. This is a “night of poetry under the stars and among the sand dunes”, with a line-up of top poets accompanied by an oud player and a traditional Emirati buffet. The line-up includes Nikita Gill, considered to be one of the leading Instapoets; Sasha Akhtar, known for “pushing boundaries”; award-winning Noor Naga, whose debut collection Washes, Prays was published last year; and Iman Mersal, recipient of 2021 Sheikh Zayed Prize for Literature for her book Fe Athar Enayat Al-Zayat.

File photo of Desert Stanzas Image Credit: Supplied

More poetry performances will be held on February 9 at Hilton’s Firefly Lounge. The outdoor event will feature a mix of some of the best home-grown spoken word talent, with guest performances from international stars including Dominican-American Elizabeth Acevedo and Queena Bergen.

Precautionary measures 

The Festival will comply with all current COVID-19 regulations, and visitors will be asked to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination, or a negative PCR taken within the previous 72 hours.

The Festival is held with Founding Partners Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).

LitFest is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.