Politics, heated debates, sublime music and some of the world’s leading writers – just some of the reasons to get involved with The Bath Festival 2017

We’ve all got a view on Trump, but few of us are as articulate as Man Booker prize winner Howard Jacobson. On hearing that Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States, Jacobson found himself in “a fury of disbelief.” He turned his rage into creative energy and in six weeks flat had written Pussy, a dark fairytale about a gilded prince raised on a diet of reality TV shows who rises to power. Jacobson will be bringing both his rage and his eloquence to Bath on Wednesday 24 May, 7pm at the Assembly Rooms, when he’ll be in conversation with festival literary director Alex Clark.

Another famously creative fury, Bob Dylan, is the subject of what promises to be a lively discussion and an enjoyable evening of music at the Forum on Saturday 20 May, running from 7.30pm to 10pm. There’ll be a panel of experts, hosted by music journalist Danny Kelly who is the former editor of the NME and Q magazine. And legendary jazz musician Georgie Fame will be in town, bringing his own brand of cool to the Forum on Tuesday 23 May, 7.30pm.

The peaceful world of plants is explored by garden writer and landscape designer Dan Pearson. In his latest book, Natural Selection, Dan draws on ten years of his gardening column in The Observer. He describes a garden as an oasis for creation and manages to combine sharing practical tips with elegaic prose. Hear him on Friday 26 May, 11.45am at the Assembly Rooms.

There’s the opportunity to hear the voices of other newspaper columnists. India Knight will eulogise about the joys of dogs, while Bryony Gordon uses humour and humanity to talk about mental health and life’s difficult patches. Both women will be appearing on Saturday 27 May.

Sit in one of Europe’s most beautiful rooms, under priceless chandeliers and listen to one of the world’s finest pianists. The charismatic Jeremy Denk visits the Assembly Rooms, on Sunday 21 May, 11am for a two hour performance, with a mixed programme that includes Bach’s English Suite, the Piano Sonata in B Flat by Schubert and some joyful piano rags by Joplin, Stravinsky and others. British folk giant Martin Carthy is playing with Sam Sweeeney, one-time fiddler with the legendary Bellowhead. Their combined strings will be raising the roof at the Masonic Hall in Old Orchard Street on Wednesday 24 May, 8pm. Be quick though as some events, including a visit from Ed Balls, are already sold out.

Motorcycle fans will enjoy the camaraderie of adventurer Charley Boorman, talking about biking, his serious accident and the road to recovery, at the Assembly Rooms on Tuesday 23 May, 7.30pm.

There’s much more besides to enjoy at The Bath Festival – as the poster says, Jump in!

A celebration of strong women

Star quality: Katherine Hepburn

With the likes of  celebrity expedition leader and survival consultant Megan Hine speaking at The Bath Festival, there are plenty of inspirational and powerful women being celebrated at this year’s festival…

Writer Sarah Churchwell will explore the world of actresses such as Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davies, the movie stars of the 1930s who influenced and inspired so many women and who had what’s known as ‘moxie’ – sass or attitude. Moxie: Silver Screen Goddesses is on Saturday 21 May, 5pm, Assembly Rooms.

How has politics changed for women over the past five decades? Former deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has been at the forefront of changing British politics for women since the early 1980s and will be exploring the theme of women in politics at her talk on Sunday 28 May, 11am, at the Assembly Rooms.

On Sunday 21 May, fans of crime fiction will enjoy a collective talk about Killer Women, focussing on female crime writers. Featuring writers Sarah Hilary, Erin Kelly and Mel McGrath and Guardian crime reviewer Laura Wilson, they’ll explore the female appetite for crime fiction.

There’s a musical show which celebrates the life and career of pioneering black American singer and actress Lena Horne, born 100 years ago. She forged a career despite challenges, including the ban which meant as a black woman she couldn’t stay in the same hotels as her white band, having to sleep in the tour bus. And when she appeared for the first time on film for MGM the bosses insisted her skin be lightened with make-up. This show, with a five-piece band, includes her most famous song, Stormy Weather. She also sang on Porgy and Bess with Paul Robeson. Stormy: the Life of Lena Horne is at Komedia on Wednesday 24 May, 7.30pm.

Visit bathfestivals.org.uk to book tickets to The Bath Festival.

Main image: Garden writer Dan Pearson