Ledbury Poetry Festival comes of age this year, celebrating its 21st birthday in many languages, welcoming poets from all over the world to celebrate translation, collaboration, exchange and sharing – of words, experiences, places, feelings, convictions, stories, histories, pleasures.

The programme includes leading scientist and author Richard Dawkins, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, award-wining poet Simon Armitage, legendary Romanian poet Ana Blandiana and journalist Andrew O'Hagan, with acclaimed poet and now-Herefordshire resident Fiona Sampson taking up the post of poet-in-residence for the festival.

Founded in 1997 by a group of local enthusiasts, Ledbury Poetry Festival is today recognized as the nation's pre-eminent and biggest poetry festival. In 2017, the festival remains rooted in its local community, bringing audiences some of the most exciting names in poetry, politics and popular culture from across the world in the intimate venues, streets and parks of Ledbury.

With more than 135 events in 10 days, Ledbury Poetry Festival 2017 offers both new and dedicated poetry fans the chance to fully immerse themselves in the diverse world of poetry.

From Wednesday to Saturday, 7Airs, a series of ground breaking site-inspired performances directed by Rachel Lambert and Estelle van Warmelo, combines physical theatre, music and poetry spanning the stages of life. Two poets, one from the UK and one from Europe create one piece, connecting through the air as they breathe in two countries. All performances are free, culminating in a one-off event bringing together the week's poetry in a celebratory promenade perfo5rmance uniting people through song and air. (For times, visit poetry-festival.co.uk)

The Desert Island Poems strand of events will see Paddy Ashdown, actor Hugh Dennis and ceramics entrepreneur Emma Bridgewater share the poems that have shaped their lives, while Richard Dawkins will also share his favourite poems with Lalla Ward and I'm a Celebrity star Larry Lamb will read poems nominated by audience in Poetry Jukebox.

And wrapping the town in a big colourful poetic splash is artwork created by community groups in Ledbury and the local

environs, celebrating the magic of the outdoors. Take a seat in one of the Festival’s Outdoor Poetry Chairs, made by Salters Hill Charity and Hereford Community Farm, inspired by poetry and the local C19th arts and crafts chairmaker Phillip Clissett. Look in the fantastic shop windows, see the local traders’ ingenious displays inspired by outdoor poems. The best windows in three categories are being judged by celebrity, Hugh Dennis. This large-scale community project is a way of including everyone in the Festival: ‘poetry is embraced here, poetry matters, people care, the town is engaged with this joyous celebration of words, poems and poets’ says Artistic Director Chloe Garner.

Find full programme details at poetry-festival.co.uk.