A festival celebrating brilliant writing, music and ideas.

The Primadonna festival was set up by a group of 18 women who wanted to create a new and inclusive festival for all ages celebrating the creative community, giving prominence to work by women and introducing fresh voices alongside famous names in a fun and welcoming environment. The festival ran August 30th, 31st and September 1st 2019 in (mostly) glorious sunshine in beautiful surroundings in Suffolk and delivered an entire weekend of eclectic festivities, from interviews, panels, spoken-word performances and workshops, to live music, films and food. Check out the programme we ran, our line up of amazing speakers, and the events we ran for the curious, with advisory sessions and events created specifically for writers and activities on the programme just for fun.

Those who joined us helped create

..the world as it should be for one weekend.

Thanks to all of you who came. Please bear with us as we pull together quotes and photos from this amazing weekend, while we update the website and while we review the festival and work out its future. If you’d like to send us any feedback please do email us on the festival email addresss -

In the meantime if you’d like to perpetuate the vibe, please visit our merch page and be uplifted by Karen Karn’s amazing Primadonna logo.

August 30th, 31st and September 1st 2019


The Primadonna Festival is the brainchild of a group of women from publishing and entertainment, who include Sabeena Akhtar, Joanna Baker, Amie Corry, Jane Dyball, Catherine Mayer, Kit de Waal, Shona Abhyankar, Jude Kelly, Alexis Kirschbaum, Lisa Milton, Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Sonia Purnell, Monisha Rajesh, Catherine Riley, Athena Stevens, Cathryn Summerhayes, Sandi Toksvig and Sioned Wiliam. Together, these 18 women—the “Primadonnas”—have worked to create a festival of brilliant writing, borne out of a desire to give prominence to work by women and spotlight authors from the margins—and to create a thoroughly joyous and accessible experience. There will be live music, films and comedy and all sorts of writing represented. 


TOP ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT: Athena Stevens, Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Joanna Baker, Lisa Milton, Sioned Wiliam, Jane Dyball, Catherine Riley

BOTTOM ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT: Sabeena Akhtar, Monisha Rajesh, Catherine Mayer, Shona Abhyankar

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A series of one-on-one Q&As with some of the most exciting writing talents around—whether established or new—and with key figures from publishing, media and entertainment. 


Informative , entertaining and challenging panels covering everything from topics such as whether men can write women (a panel called “Her Breasts Preceded Her into the Room”) to the nuts and bolts of getting publishing or bringing a book to screen.


Not just a series of sound bites but an opportunity for deep dives into big themes and issues.  These will be scheduled with plenty of time for audience participation.



Surgeries will be running throughout the festival with the PrimaDonnas who will be available to give advice based on their expertise and experience.   


We’ll be bringing you the best of local talent and names from further afield plus some music industry-insider “tips for the top”.



Audience participation

We know you don’t want to just listen, but some of you want to get involved!   We’ll be running daily writing challenges & open mic opportunities for everyone.

Arts & crafts

We know that being creative is good for the soul, so we will be running arts and crafts workshops across the weekend.


We’re excited that we’ll be bringing you some of the new upcoming comedy writers and performers, as well as some familiar faces.



Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome - to the Primadonna caberet. A selection of the entertaining and perhaps risqué!


Reconnect with yourself by grabbing a massage, some music therapy or other essential indulgences.


We’ll be running a film shed thoughout Primadonna with something for everyone.  We’ll also be bringing back (for those of you who’ve been to our other festivals) the late night campfire film – a silent film with live music accompaniment screened outside by the campfire.


Dance yourself dizzy in the late night disco shed. Different sets will feature different genres Friday and Saturday nights.

Food & drink

We are what we eat, and all of the food available at Primadonnna has been selected to give you best value for money and the most delicious options including vegan and gluten free.  Our festivals are known for their delicious food.   Our beers and ciders have the lowest food mileage of any festival – they will have travelled all of 5 miles to get here.

Kids policy

Our policy is not to have separate kids areas because, for some of us, weekends are a great opportunity to hang out with our children.   Instead we make sure that there is always something happening that kids will enjoy.


More than anything, what we will be creating at Primadonna is a community.  By the end of the weekend you will have met and made friends with loads of like-minded people.   If you’re camping you will have borrowed or lent tent pegs.   You will have made each other a cup of tea, or shared your secret stash of donuts.  If you’re travelling to and from the Pentahotel in Ipswich you will have made friends on the minibus.  You will certainly have swapped email address, phone numbers and arranged to meet up again.


In our first year we will be operating to a capacity of 1,000, although we hope to be podcasting much of the festival far and wide to make the event as accessible as possible.  It’s going to be a truly special event, one that people will be saying “I was there” for years to come – so don’t leave it too late to buy your tickets if you’d like to join us in person.