AMBITIOUS plans for Winchester Poetry Festival have been bolstered thanks to another funding boost.

The festival, which happens every two years, will return in October 2020 after it has been awarded funding from the main national funding body, the Arts Council.

The event has become a major player in the poetry world, with a reputation for innovative programming and for nurturing new talent, championing many of the most exciting poets from the UK and beyond.

The 2020 festival will tie in with Mayflower400 – the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower – which is being marked by a number of organisations in Hampshire.

Festival co-director Sasha Dugdale said: “The programme will focus particularly on the ‘special relationship’ between UK & American poetry and poets, in recognition of the Mayflower400 commemoration. We’re very excited about building on the demonstrable success of previous festivals with a diverse and dynamic range of poets from both sides of the pond, some very well known writers, alongside thrilling new voices and a bigger and better programme of education and community events.”

Each festival has seen a significant expansion and development of the offer to audiences, and 2020 will see some events taking place in Southampton before and after the main festival weekend October 9 to 11.

In a sign of the respect in which Winchester Poetry Festival is held, a number of US poets will travel to Winchester for the October event, some of them developing a ‘correspondence’ about their work and practice with UK based poets in the preceding months.

Stephen Boyce, chairman of Winchester Poetry Festival, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Arts Council for their continuing support of the festival and all our activities; their funding is a great boost.

“We are very proud to be able to bring this ambitious programme to Hampshire. There are a range of sponsorship opportunities available to companies who would like to work with us.”