The UK's most empowering literary festival went virtual - here's what happened

The sensational Primadonna Festival celebrates brilliant writing, music and ideas from inspirational females in the publishing and entertainment industry

The sensational Primadonna Festival celebrates brilliant writing, music and ideas from inspirational females in the publishing and entertainment industry

Words by Chantel Pereira

Heard of Primadonna Festival? It's the UK's first literary event that showcases the unheard voices of women in the publishing realm.

The brainchild of 17 leading women within the publishing and entertainment world (including Kit de Waal, Catherine Mayer, Sandi Toksvig and Lisa Milton), this wonderful and much-needed celebration of the literary arts aims to tackle the current imbalance in the publishing world, by creating a space where all ideas are welcome.

Kicking off last year in the Suffolk countryside, the festival brought together a plethora of writers, editors, readers, comedians, musicians and foodies to place a spotlight on creatives on the margin.

Journalist and the co-founder and President of the Women’s Equality Party and Primadonna Festival, Catherine Mayer

And after the success of it's grand debut, the Primadonna Festival made a virtual comeback last weekend.

Hosting an incredible outstanding ensemble of women, the festival featured June Sarpong, author and editor Sabeena Akhtar, writer Michael Donkor and Jane Dyball, Chair of Primadonna, at a live roundtable discussion of the successes and failures of life in lockdown.

Audience members were able to participate in the interactive sessions via Zoom, with the festival being streamed across various other online platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

Primadonna festival

The Primadonna committee

Other events included a live bake-a-long on Saturday lunchtime with Great British Bake-Off contestant Priya O-Shea, interactive art and writing sessions, ukulele karaoke, and the return of Make Sioned Laugh: Primadonna’s very own gameshow where contestants vie to raise a chuckle from Sioned Wiliam, Radio 4’s commissioning editor for comedy.

If you didn't get a chance to catch the festival, then it's your lucky day - as the sessions were recorded to allow for later viewings. To check out the events for yourself, subscribe to the Primadonna youtube channel.

If you like what you see, you can also donate to the Primadonna GoFundMe page, to help them continue their fantastic work and come back with a bang next year.

Set to be back in full swing in 2021, the festival will be held from 30th July to 1st August.

Niamh McCollum

Niamh McCollum is Features Assistant at Marie Claire UK, and specialises in entertainment, female empowerment, mental health, social development and careers. Tackling both news and features, she's covered everything from the rise of feminist audio porn platforms to the latest campaigns protecting human rights.

Niamh has also contributed to our Women Who Win series by interviewing ridiculously inspiring females, including forensic scientist Ruth Morgan, Labour MP Stella Creasy and ITV’s former Home Affairs Editor Jennifer Nadel.

Niamh studied Law in Trinity College Dublin. It was after enrolling in a Law & Literature class on her year abroad in Toronto that her love of writing was reignited. In no particular order, her big likes are Caleb Followill, hoops, red wine, sea swimming, shakshuka and long train journeys.