Aarhus 39

European Children's Literature Hay Festival will bring Europe’s greatest children’s writers to Aarhus, European Capital of Culture in 2017

The aim is to establish the first ever globally-recognised Children’s Literature Festival in Aarhus and to engage children across the country with a nationwide literacy campaign.The European Children's Literature Hay Festival - Aarhus 39 will take place in October 2017.   

The Aarhus 39 concept builds on three similar festival campaigns we have run with the UNESCO World Cities of Literature in Bogotá, Beirut and Port Harcourt, and the Mexico 20 project for London Book Fair’s UK–Mexico Market Focus 2015. Each of these projects has generated new festivals, new publications and long-tail campaigns that are still running across the world for a new generation of writers from Latin America (Bogotá 39), the Arab diaspora (Beirut 39) and Sub-Saharan Africa (Africa 39).

To celebrate Aarhus Capital of Culture in 2017 we have appointed a panel of three children’s writers to work with us to select 39 of their peers under the age of 40 from across Europe. Selection criteria will encompass authors of books for primary school-age children and for teenagers.


Kim Fupz AakesonKim Fupz Aakeson, from Copenhagen, Denmark, is best known for his quirky, honest and glorious picture-books for children. He is also a novelist and illustrator for comics, contributes to professional journals and newspapers, and writes for radio, theatre and film. He has published more than 80 books for children and young adults, winning numerous awards. His titles include the Vitello series, In Order of Disappearance, A Caretaker's Tale and Perfect Sense.

Ana Cristina HerrerosAna Cristina Herreros was born in León, north-west Spain, where she remembers her grandmother telling stories. An academic, author and editor, she is an expert in the oral tradition and folkloric sources. In 1992 she began professional story-telling in theatres, libraries, schools, hospitals, prisons and public parks. Her books, published in Catalan and English, include Popular Tales of the Mediterranean, The Book of Spanish Witches, Magical Geography and Popular Tales of Mother Death.

Matt HaigMatt Haig is a journalist and author living in Yorkshire whose novels have been translated into 29 languages. Children’s books include Shadow Forest, The Runaway Troll and To Be a Cat. His first book, The Last Family in England, retells Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 with the protagonists as dogs, and is to be filmed by Brad Pitt’s production company. Other titles are The Dead Fathers Club and The Possession of Mr Cave.

The 39 chosen writers will be invited to spend five days in Aarhus visiting schools and taking part in a city- and region-wide weekend festival towards the end of Aarhus’ Capital of Culture year. With venues across the city, festival events will be accessible to all and will include a range of ‘in conversation’ events, debates and creative workshops.