Appledore Book Festival is set to break new ground this September by holding a drive-in festival.

Organisers have made the move to hold the drive-in festival, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, instead of the traditional nine-day festival due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The drive-in festival will run from September 18 to 22 in the grounds of Skern Lodge, with space for 100 socially spaced cars at each event.

There are 25 events scheduled in across the five-day festival, with the line-up including playwright and former Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo.

There will be appearances from TV presenter Kate Humble; science journalist Dr Michael Mosley; best-selling author Adele Parks; actor and former MEP and gay rights campaigner, Michael Cashman; comedian Lucy Porter and former British Ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch.

Author, peer of the realm and actor Michael Cashman will be at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Nikki PowellAuthor, peer of the realm and actor Michael Cashman will be at Appledore Book Festival 2020. Picture: Nikki Powell

Festival patron Jeremy Vine, who is also scheduled for the festival, said: “Once again, Appledore is at the cutting edge! Lockdown has been so hard for everyone but we honestly believe that, as things ease, people will be more desperate than ever for their annual fix of literature by the sea!

“If there’s ever been a drive-in book festival before, I’ve yet to hear of it. I hope we have a festival like no other, and show the horrible coronavirus that you can’t keep our great writers down.”

Audiences will be able to watch and listen in via FM radio and will have an opportunity to put questions to authors, who will be interviewed on a covered stage.

As well as an eight-metre LED screen to ensure everyone has a good view, those attending will be able to order refreshments direct to their car and buy signed copies of books at a drive-through stall.

A statement from the festival added: “After months of uncertainty against the backdrop of Covid-19 and continuing restrictions, the festival team hit upon the idea of a drive-in book festival where social distancing can easily be adhered to and Covid-19 safety guidelines followed.

“Of course, should the UK return to full lockdown or more stringent restrictions be put in place, then the festival will not go-ahead.”

Tickets are available online from the Appledore Book Festival website. Priority booking for Friends of Appledore Book Festival will go live on August 1, with general tickets sales going live a week later on August 8.