A WEEK of free events celebrating the written word starts on Saturday.

The first ever Derwent Valley Literary Festival: A Celebration of Books is being organised by the Leadgate Taskforce.

A total of 20 events, over eight days, includes sessions with writers of best-selling books such as Helen Steadman, author of Widdershins and Max Adams, who penned The King in the North.

Multi-award-winning poet, Steve Urwin, Shades of Grey Prolific, regional playwright, Tom Kelly and much-loved children’s author, Noriko Matsubara will also be taking part.

Events will take place across the Derwent Valley, from Consett to Blaydon.

Some events are indoors, others are outdoors and a few are online.

There will be discounted books on sale, and authors will be available to sign them.

Group chairman Richard Judd said: “It will showcase local authors, poets and playwrights and provide accessible community events to encourage attendance from people who might not usually feel comfortable going to author events.

“This is particularly important in a region with low literacy levels and pockets of multiple deprivation.”

Poetry in the Park will be held in at Blackhill Park on June 21 and feature four local poets. The festival includes several children’s events, two of them involving puppets with one featuring French-speaking puppets while and the other provides an opportunity for children to make and take away their own sock puppets.

Events are free, but attendees need to book tickets.

To find out more log on to: www.derwentvalleylitfest.com.